March 26, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - One year after a program record nine student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, the University of Notre Dame men's swimming and diving team will enter a total of eight competitors in the 2014 NCAA meet this week at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.
Senior two-time All-American Frank Dyer, junior All-American Zach Stephens and junior All-American John Williamson each posted NCAA Championship individual qualifying times during last month's Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship, which also permitted five Notre Dame relay teams to enter the meet field. Senior co-captain Colin Babcock, sophomore Matthew Buerger and freshman Tom Anderson will make their first career NCAA Championship appearances, while junior All-American Kevin Hughes returns to the national championship meet for the second straight season, as relay-only competitors.
Based on his strong performance at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championship earlier in March, freshman Joe Coumos is scheduled to compete in all three diving disciplines as the only Notre Dame diving meet participant. Coumos is the first Irish diver to qualify for the NCAA Championships since 2008, and just the third different diver in team history to earn a bid to the event (Bob Ebel, 1975; Michael Bulfin, 2006 and 2008).
The 2014 NCAA Championships are scheduled to begin on Thursday, with the preliminary heats of the meet set for 11 a.m. (CT). Event finals will follow later in the day at 7 p.m. All three days of the championship will adhere to the morning preliminary/evening finals format of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. starts.
Legendary Notre Dame head coach Tim Welsh will lead the Irish in his final collegiate swim meet prior to retirement. Welsh, who has coached Notre Dame for the past 29 seasons, has mentored 23 men's NCAA Championship qualifiers during his tenure, including 20 in the past four years alone.
Dyer is set to make Notre Dame program history as the first four-time NCAA Championship qualifier in his return to the national meet, and will look to earn All-American status for the third straight year. Dyer was a member of the last season's Irish 800 free relay team that finished in 16th place at the NCAA meet in Indianapolis, earning honorable mention All-America honors.
The Loudonville, N.Y. native became the program's first All-American after swimming to a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Federal Way, Wash. Dyer posted automatic qualifying times for the 100 (42.84) and 200 freestyle (1:33.20, ACC champion) for this season's NCAA meet, and added an invited time of 4:19.69 in the 500 freestyle.
Stephens makes his second career NCAA Championships appearance after enjoying a standout showing last month in Notre Dame's first ever appearance at the ACC Championship, sweeping the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Stephens broke the longest standing ACC meet record time in the 100 breaststroke (52.59) during his gold medal swim, and added another program record in the 200 breaststroke (1:53.34) later in the competition as the top finisher in the distance.
The Bloomsburg, Pa. native will look to build upon last year's success at the NCAA Championship, where he joined Dyer as just the second Notre Dame individual swimmer to cop All-America accolades at the national championship meet. Stephens' 16th place time of 1:56.43 in the 200 breaststroke met honorable mention All-America criteria. He is scheduled to swim the 100 (52.59) and 200 (1:53.34) breaststroke and the 200 Individual Medley (1:44.01) at the 2014 NCAA meet.
Williamson earned his second career NCAA invitation on the strength of a school record swim in the preliminary heat of the 200 butterfly in February at the ACC Championship. Williamson tapped the wall in 1:43.09 to set the 15th-best NCAA qualifying time in the event. Williamson added an additional B-cut of 1:43.21 during his finals heat at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.
The Bloomington, Ill. native joined both Dyer and Stephens as individual Irish All-Americans at the 2013 NCAA meet, nearly setting the then university record with a finals swim of 1:44.18 to place 13th overall. Williamson is entered in the 200 butterfly with his 1:43.09 effort from the ACC Championship, and also posted invited times in the 100 butterfly (47.20) and 500 freestyle (4:23.22).
Coumos was the top Notre Dame finisher in all three diving disciplines at the Zone C meet on March 13-15 in Columbus, Ohio to punch his ticket to the NCAA Championships. He finished third in the 1-meter dive final with a total of 683.20 points, claiming the seventh of eight men's entries to the national championship meet. The Tomball, Texas native also chipped in a fifth place result off the 3-meter board (697.35 points), and finished 13th in platform diving with a 276.55 point series.
Babcock caps his collegiate career as an eligible relay competitor after helping set the Irish program record in the 800 freestyle relay (6:21.74) at the ACC Championship. The effort was one of five Notre Dame swims at the meet to achieve an NCAA A-cut. Babcock also helped the 400 freestyle relay squad claim an NCAA B-cut (2:55.07) during the conference championship.
The Covington, La. native added individual B-cut times in the 200 IM (1:45.12), the 100 breaststroke (53.36) and the 200 breaststroke (1:59.17) at the ACC meet in Greensboro.
Hughes joins Dyer, Stephens and Williamson as returning All-America performers after swimming with the 16th place 800 medley relay team at the 2013 NCAA Championships. He earned his invitation to this year's national championship meet as the third member of the 800 freestyle relay lineup, along with Dyer and Babcock that established the program record in the distance at the ACC Championship.
The Rye, N.Y. native also set the new Irish mark in the 1650 freestyle (15:14.70) at the ACC meet, and contributed NCAA B-cut swims in the 200 (1:36.34) and the 500 freestyle (4:23.26) events.
Buerger was a member of two record-setting Notre Dame relay entries at the ACC Championship, helping the Irish log top times in both the 200 freestyle (1:18.72) and 400 medley relay (3:09.50). The 400 medley relay squad was one of three Notre Dame relays that earned NCAA A-cut time standards.
The Wexford, Pa. native established the Irish 100 backstroke record (47.17) during his leadoff split of the medley relay, and copped additional NCAA B-cut swims in the 200 IM (1:47.19) and 200 backstroke (1:45.20).
Anderson rounds out the Notre Dame roster as the second Irish freshman in as many seasons to compete at the NCAA Championships, after Bogac Ayhan raced with both the 200 and 400 medley relay teams in 2013. Anderson was the fourth swimmer on Notre Dame's record setting 800 freestyle relay at the ACC Championship that earned the second Irish A-cut time standard of the conference meet.
The San Diego, Calif. native added standout individual performances as well in Greensboro, setting team records in both the 400 IM (3:45.82) and the 200 backstroke (1:44.05) during the competition.
Live finals coverage will be available on ESPN3 on both Friday and Saturday, and can also be viewed via the WatchESPN app.
2014 Notre Dame NCAA Individual Qualifiers (swimmers can also compete in relays)
17. Zach Stephens: 1:44.01*
42. John Williamson: 47.20#
4. Frank Dyer: 1:33.20*
11. Zach Stephens: 52.59*
24. Frank Dyer: 42.84*
7. Zach Stephens: 1:53.34*
15. John Williamson: 1:43.09*
Joe Coumos: 683.20 points*
Joe Coumos: 697.35 points#
Joe Coumos: 276.55 points
*- Automatic Qualifying Time/Score
Notre Dame Qualifying Relays
200 Medley Relay (1:25.46)
400 Medley Relay (3:09.50)
200 Freestyle Relay (1:18.72)
400 Freestyle Relay (2:55.07)
800 Freestyle Relay (6:21.74)