Aug. 13, 2004
Andrew MacKay (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands/Cayman Prep & H.S.), who will enroll at the University of Notre Dame as a freshman later this month and join its men's swimming and diving team, is headed to Athens, Greece, for the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, which officially kick off with today's opening ceremonies (televised by NBC beginning at 7 p.m. in South Bend). MacKay, the first-ever Olympic swimming qualifier for the Cayman Islands, will compete in both the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys in the Olympic Aquatic Centre of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex.
MacKay, who will become the first Olympian in Irish men's swimming and diving history when he joins the team, will first jump in the pool on Saturday, competing in the preliminaries of the first race of these Games, the 400 IM, slated to begin at 10 a.m. (Eastern European Summer Time), which is 2 a.m. (Friday night/Saturday morning) in South Bend. The top eight swimmers in the prelims advance to the finals, which are scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. Saturday morning in South Bend). NBC is scheduled to cover both the prelims (coverage beginning at Noon in South Bend) and finals (8 p.m. in South Bend) of the 400 IM.
After a three-day break, MacKay will return to action next Wednesday, Aug. 18, for the prelims of the 200 IM, which begin at 11:47 a.m. in Athens (3 a.m. Wednesday morning in South Bend). The top 16 then move on to the semifinals, scheduled for Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. (EEST) (Noon in South Bend). The top eight swimmers will compete in the final on Thursday evening at 7:54 p.m. (EEST) (11:54 a.m. in South Bend). NBC is scheduled to cover the 200 IM during its evening coverage on both days (beginning at 8 p.m. in South Bend), and might also feature prelim action on Wednesday (its coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. in South Bend).
The official website of Irish athletics, www.und.com, will feature detailed coverage of all 10 Olympians with Notre Dame ties competing in this year's Games. Included in that coverage will be diary entries and photos documenting their time in Athens.
MacKay, a 5-9, 150-pound graduate of Cayman Prep and High School, holds Cayman national records in long-course meters in all backstroke, breaststroke, and individual medley events, as well as the 100-meter butterfly. He is coached by former U.S. great Dave Kelsheimer. MacKay failed to qualify for the Olympics in his top event (100 backstroke), but then garnered an invitation in the 200 IM at the 2003 Caribbean Championships in Jamaica. His 400 IM qualifying time came at the '03 Pan Am Games.
In the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Mackay, 17 years old at the time, registered the fastest start reaction time (.63 seconds) in the entire 78-swimmer field in the 200 IM (he finished 48th). His extensive international experience includes competing at the 2002 World Short Course Championships in Moscow, reaching the semifinals at the '02 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, and becoming the first Caymanian to advance to the finals in the Pan American Games, in '03. Mackay earned 31 medals (14 gold, 11 silver, 6 bronze) at the CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Agreement) Swimming Championships, setting six records on the way. He medaled in nine events (4 gold, 5 silver) in the Island Games, setting three records, of which the 100 back mark still stands. Mackay also won the Cayman Islands Swimming Coach's Award in '02. His top long-course times include 2:08.15 in the 200 IM and 4:32.96 in the 400 IM.
While MacKay will be the first Irish men's swimmer to compete in the Olympics, two Notre Dame women's swimmers have arrived on campus as Olympians. Jilen Siroky, who graduated in May after an injury-plagued collegiate career, competed at the age of 15 in the 200-meter breaststroke for the United States in the Atlanta games in 1996. Christel Bouvron (Singapore, Singapore/Raffles Girls' Secondary School), who will be a junior at Notre Dame this fall, competed in the 400 free and 200 butterfly in the 2000 Sydney Olympics for Singapore, and she will once again take part in the 200 fly in the Athens games.
Since the Antwerp Games in 1920, Notre Dame has been represented (by current, former, or future athletes) in 15 of the 20 Summer Olympics, including each of the last 10. A total of 10 Olympians in the Athens Games have ties to the Irish, by far the most of any Games. The previous high was three in both the 1992 and '96 Olympics. Irish athletes have won nine medals, most-recently a silver by Swedish epeeist Bjorn Vaggo in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. That total includes a pair of golds, both in men's basketball (Vince Boryla in '48 and Adrian Dantley in '76).
For more information on the Olympics, see www.athens2004.org, while complete television listings of coverage by the NBC family of networks can be found at www.NBCOlympics.com.