March 30, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - The Notre Dame men's swimming and diving squad completed the third and final day of action Saturday at the 2013 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championship at the IUPUI Natatorium. John Williamson nearly duplicated his lifetime-best swim to place 13th in the 200 butterfly, and Zach Stephens swam to a 16th-place performance in the 200 breaststroke. Both swimmers earned their first career individual honorable mention All-America honors, becoming just the third and fourth athletes in program history to be recognized individually. Notre Dame finished the NCAA Championship with seven points as a team, the second highest point total in university history, in a tie for 36th place.
The Irish wrapped up one of their most successful outings in this meet, accruing All-America honors in three events, with five total swimmers bringing home honorable All-America scrolls. This marks the first time in program history that the team has brought home to the dome more than one such honor. The honorable All-America citation in the 800 freestyle relay also marked the first time in the storied past of the program that a relay placed within the top 16 of an event.
"Today was great, and it really all started last night with the 800 freestyle relay. We learned last night how to score, and we were able to do it again today twice," said head coach Tim Welsh. "When we left the NCAA Championship meet last year with Frank Dyer, we learned from him how to score. We had three goals for the team related to this meet for the season. The first was to bring the largest group of participants in program history. The second was to have a relay score, and the third was to have more than one person score. We definitely can build off this, and there is still a lot more we can work on to improve on this going forward."
Williamson and Stephens become just the third and fourth athletes in swim and dive program history to place individually within the top 16 of an event, joining teammate Frank Dyer, who placed fourth in the 200 freestyle at last year's NCAA Championship in Federal Way, Wash., and diving great Michael Bulfin, who placed 15th in the 3-meter springboard dive at the 2008 iteration of the NCAA Championship, also held in Federal Way, Wash.
Stephens wrapped up his sophomore season with a strong 16th place finish in the 200 breaststroke. "My main goal coming into this meet was to make it back in either the "A" or "B" final, and to be able to make that goal in the morning was pretty exciting," said Stephens. "It's tough to swim at night, but it's really exciting to be swimming against the best in the world, and it helps me look toward next year to plan where I need to be to get into the top eight next time."
Williamson stopped the clock 13th overall in his 200 butterfly competition, the second highest individual finish in school annals. "Prelims was really fun today. The race went well and felt really good," said Williamson. "Getting back to finals was something I was really looking forward to, especially in that event (the 200 butterfly). It's a completely different experience to swim in finals than compared to prelims. The crowd is so much louder at night, and it's much more of an isolated event, with each heat being its own focus. Looking forward, next year will be great. We will lose a few great seniors, but we have a young team at the core. We are looking forward to developing the team a lot more, and I can't begin to imagine the ways we can be surprised with people stepping up as it comes."
Frank Dyer competed in the 100 freestyle, wrapping up his individual slate of events with a 21st-place finish. Dyer finishes the meet with another All-America citation (800 freestyle relay), bringing his career total to two after his fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle at the 2012 NCAA Championship.
Cameron Miller (31st) and Chris Johnson (36th) competed alongside Stephens in the 200 breaststroke as well to round out the individual swims in the morning session. The relay quartet of Dyer, Stephens, John McGinley, and Bill Bass placed 28th in the final team entry of the meet.
Seniors Bill Bass and John McGinley were joined by sophomore Kevin Hughes to earn their first All-America scrolls as part of the historic 800 free relay with Dyer. In a program-first this year in bringing not only their first relay, but qualifying all five relays for the NCAA Championship, Notre Dame wasted little time in recording their first relay points in university history.
Finals Session | Event Summaries
200 Breast: Zach Stephens earned his first individual All-America scroll, picking up honorable mention nods for a 16th place finish in the even ... became just the third athlete in swim and dive program history to garner such an accolade ... opened the race with a split of 55.91 ... hit the pad in 1:56.43 to finish the race and wrap up his season.
200 Fly: John Williamson picked up his first career All-America award via his strong performance in the distance butterfly ... sophomore joins the ranks of the elite few in program history to earn such a citation individually (Dyer, Bulfin, Stephens) ... took out the first half of the race in a quick 49.62 ... stopped the clock in 1:44.18, consistent with his preliminary swim and just off his university record pace.
Preliminary Session | Event Summaries
100 Free: Frank Dyer took out his first 50 yards in a swift 20.86 ... finished just off his school-record pace, clocking in at 43.24, two tenths behind his swim at the BIG EAST Championship last month in Indianapolis ... finished 21st overall in his last individual swim of the meet.
200 Breast: Zach Stephens maintained the same pace that made him BIG EAST Champion and the school record-holder, and he was rewarded with a time just off his personal best ... his performance earned him 15th place in the morning session, and nets him an invite to come back and swim in the "B"-final at night ... Stephens is the first Irish swimmer to swim his way into finals at this meet, and the first Notre Dame breaststroker ever to have an opportunity to earn an All-America scroll at night ... Cameron Miller finished the event in 1:57.95, placing 31st overall ... Chris Johnson posted his best time of the season, finishing 36th overall in 1:59.17.
200 Fly: John Williamson became the second Notre Dame swimmer in this meet, and the third swimmer (fourth athlete) in program history to earn a chance at a top-16 finish, stopping the clock in 1:44.00 to place 12th in the morning session and return for the "B"-final at night ... Williamson's time was only six hundredths of a second off his personal best and university record.
400 Free Relay: The squad of Frank Dyer, Zach Stephens, John McGinley, and Bill Bass wrapped up the morning action the final relay entry for the meet ... the quartet finished in 2:57.34, placing 28th overall in the field.
THE IRISH AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP:
Results by Athlete: