Nov. 11, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame head men's swimming and diving coach Tim Welsh will step down from that position at the end of the 2013-14 season after 29 seasons with the Irish and a 37-year collegiate coaching career--and current Irish associate head coach Matt Tallman will take over that spot following 13 seasons on the Notre Dame coaching staff.
"I've truly enjoyed working with Tim Welsh, in great part because of his great understanding and appreciation for what being a student-athlete is all about," says Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick.
"He has been a perfect fit at Notre Dame for all these years because he absolutely understands what's required in the pool, in the classroom and in all the other areas that we seek to develop our student-athletes. Tim has been recognized by his peers on multiple occasions for that vision, and he will leave the program next spring at an admirable level of accomplishment."
Since arriving at Notre Dame in 1985, Welsh's teams have posted a 321-178 (.643) dual-meet record, while winning 22 league titles (15 Midwestern Collegiate Conference, six BIG EAST Conference, one North Star Conference). His swimmers have earned 26 invitations to the NCAA Championships, gaining All-America honors on 11 occasions and winning more than 45 BIG EAST events. Welsh ranks behind only track and field's Joe Piane (39 seasons) as the longest-serving athletics program leader at the University.
"It's time for me and for Notre Dame men's swimming to move on to the next stage," says Welsh. "When I started coaching--even before we came to Notre Dame--I did so because, for me, coaching was a higher form of teaching since it necessarily involved coaching the whole person. As I leave coaching, it is my hope and dream to continue to work as an educator in some capacity. I may spend more time reading more books than looking at stop watches; I may write more essays than workouts; I may speak more in classrooms than in team rooms. But whatever I do, it will always be infused and informed with the love and the values of Notre Dame and Notre Dame swimming. My schedule will change, but my heart will not. It will be here on this campus and with this team.
"Before any of that happens, we have a nearly full season of training and racing ahead of us. As we move through this year of transition, we are fully committed to that purpose and vision. I am fully confident that the very best days of Notre Dame men's swimming are still to come, and I am equally confident that Matt Tallman will lead us there."
Under Welsh's guidance, the Fighting Irish captured the program's first BIG EAST title in 2005 and repeated the feat in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Notre Dame has sent competitors to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in six of the past nine seasons, with Frank Dyer earning the program's first swimming All-America honor in 2012 and a record nine Irish swimmers competing at the 2013 NCAA meet. Welsh is the winningest swimming coach in Irish history in terms of dual-meet victories and more than 200 Notre Dame records have been set during his tenure.
As part of eight seasons as head men's and women's coach at John Hopkins University prior to coming to Notre Dame, he helped Hopkins to back-to-back NCAA Division III national championships in 1978 and 1979--while being named national coach of the year in `79. Welsh has coached 33 teams that have claimed conference championships and 21 that have won nine or more dual meets in a season.
After 17 years with minimal access to scholarship aid, Welsh's Irish program became fully funded in terms of scholarships in 2002. His tenure has featured 10 seasons with 10 or more dual-meet victories, including a 12-1 mark in 1989-90 (best win-loss mark in school history). The Irish also were 11-1 in 1997-98 and set the school record for wins in a season in 1987-88 and 1990-91 with identical 13-3 marks.
Also the Irish women's coach from 1985-86 through 1994-95, Welsh's teams won MCC titles every year the Irish were in the conference (from 1987-95). The last women's program Welsh coached finished with the best record in school history, 14-1. Welsh sent 11 Irish women's swimmers to the NCAA Championships, including three-time All-American Tanya Williams.
Perennially on Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America list (which ranks teams according to grade-point average), Welsh's Irish claimed the top spot in 1999 and have been in the top 10 eight times since 1990. The program was honored in 2009 with the BIG EAST Team Excellence Award (3.272 grade index.).
Welsh in 1993 received the Richard E. Steadman Award by the College Swim Coaches Association, given annually to a swimming or diving coach in the high school, club or university ranks who has done the most to spread joy and happiness in swimming. He received the American Swimming Coaches Association's (ASCA) distinguished Ousley Service Award in 2004. One of Welsh's key developments is the ASCA Fellows Program designed to professionally and thoroughly prepare the next generation of coaching leaders. Welsh was president of the ASCA from 2009-11.
Welsh graduated magna cum laude from Providence College in 1966, then earned his master's degree at the University of Virginia in 1967. Welsh spent four seasons as men's assistant swimming coach at Syracuse beginning in 1974. He and his wife, Jacqueline, are parents of two sons--Tim, a 2002 Notre Dame graduate, and John, a 2005 Notre Dame graduate.
Tallman is in his 13th season at Notre Dame and his seventh as associate head coach. Tallman spent his first five campaigns serving as assistant coach for the Fighting Irish before assuming his associate position in July 2006. In 2013 he was named the rising assistant coach of the year by CollegeSwimming.com.
"I have great confidence in Matt Tallman and his ability to move forward with our men's swimming program. I've watched him grow into this opportunity, and I'm certain he understands the proficiencies necessary to sustain our program at the national level," says Swarbrick.
"To become the third head coach of the men's swimming and diving program at Notre Dame is the greatest thing to happen in my professional career. The University of Notre Dame and its department of athletics are synonymous with excellence. I am truly honored to lead and guide our young men through their collegiate journeys. We will be a team always striving to better ourselves as student-athletes in the classroom and in the pool, but as importantly to become better people day in and day out," says Tallman.
"Coach Welsh has been nothing short of the best role model a younger coach could ever want. He has allowed me to grow as a coach and a person since my arrival on campus and I owe him more than I could ever pay back or express for the opportunity to be on his staff at Notre Dame. He has been the perfect fit for everything that Notre Dame stands for, and I know that he will never be too far when I am seeking advice. He is Notre Dame swimming and diving for me and always will be."
Tallman joined the Irish staff in 2001, shortly after the Notre Dame athletics department announced that each of the University's 26 varsity sports would receive full funding. His recruiting efforts have helped produce some of the top classes in the history of the program--including the 14th-best incoming class in 2009-10, 12th-best in 2010-11 and 25th-best in 2011-12, which in turn has made Notre Dame a factor on the national scene. Tallman helped guide the Irish to their first BIG EAST championship in 2005, and the Irish repeated as champions in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. The stretch was the most successful in the history of Notre Dame swimming and diving.
Tallman was also instrumental in preparing and presenting a proposal to the NCAA to institute a new selection process for the Division I Swimming Championships. Thanks to Tallman's efforts, the NCAA Championship Cabinet approved the new process, which took effect at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
Prior to his stint at Notre Dame, Tallman served as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland in 2000-01, with the Terps peaking at 16th in the national rankings that season (their highest listing in school history). Tallman previously spent two years as the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was selected Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 after helping the women's team to the PSAC title, and he also led his teams to sixth- and seventh-place finishes at the NCAA Division II championships. In those two seasons at IUP, the women's squad was 18-0 in dual meets, 15 swimmers achieved All-America honors and five student-athletes were named Academic All-Americans.
A 1997 graduate of the Catholic University of America, Tallman swam for four seasons and captured 11 titles at the Capital Athletic Conference Championships. Originally from Lindenwold, N.J., he is married to the former Heather Grzeskowiak and they are parents of daughter Hannah and son Martin.