U.S. Olympic Trials: With a Green Wave on Hand, Notre Dame Swimming Enjoyed a Meet for the Ages

Chris Guiliano

U.S. Olympic Trials: With a Green Wave on Hand, Notre Dame Swimming Enjoyed a Meet for the Ages

It was an historic week at the Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis for the Notre Dame Swimming program. 

Led by rising senior Chris Guiliano, the Notre Dame swimmers put together performances that had the swimming world talking. While Guiliano was the headliner for the Irish, qualifying for the Paris Olympics in three events, the rest of the performances by the team were nothing short of outstanding.

Notre Dame Swimming History

To understand the importance of this meet for the Notre Dame swimming program, one has to look at what the Irish program has endured through the years. The swim program at Notre Dame had very simple beginnings, starting out as a club team before becoming a varsity program in 1958 under coach Dennis Stark. Following Stark, Tim Welsh took the helm of the program in 1985 and helped the Irish claim six conference crowns in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, before moving to the BIG EAST in the fall of 1995.

It was difficult for the Irish program in the BIG EAST, until 2004, when then athletic director Kevin White fully funded all Olympic sports. With a fully funded program, the Irish were able to take control of the BIG EAST Conference. From 2005-2013 the Irish men won six BIG EAST titles (’05, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’12, ’13) and was the team that everyone else was chasing. However, change was coming to all sports at Notre Dame as they would leave the BIG EAST for the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.

With such dominant success at the BIG EAST level, expectation followed the Irish as they made their way to the ACC. However, once their team made the transition to the ACC, the success they had sustained in the BIG EAST was difficult to find once again. Those once high expectations were met with a decade of mediocrity.

In 2022, head coach Chris Lindauer was brought to South Bend to revive an Irish program that had lost its storied tradition. In his two years at the helm, he has led a culture shift that allowed the men to finish in the top 10 at NCAAs for the first time. Those performances at NCAAs had a direct correlation to Olympic Trials.

The 2024 Trials

Before coming to the meet in Indianapolis, those around the program knew Olympic Trials were going to be a historic meet for the Irish. With nine swimmers representing the program and an additional eight committed swimmers, it was the largest contingent the team had brought to the Trials.

In the water, Notre Dame athletes raced in ways that many in years prior would have been shocked to see. For the first time in program history, the team had someone advance to the semifinals. More, the team didn’t just have one swimmer advance to the semifinals, they had three…on the same night. 

Tanner Fillon and Tommy Janton were in lanes right next to each other in the 100 backstroke and Chris Guiliano made his way into the semi of the 200 Free. Janton, a rising junior, made the championship final in the 100 backstroke and, eventually, the 200 backstroke.

“I was really proud of the way that I handled myself because coming from 2021 to now, I really elevated myself,” he said. “Being in a football stadium and seeing more than 20,000 people in the crowd is just unbelievable.”

For Guiliano, he became a household name at Trials with the dominant performances. From dropping almost three seconds in the 200 free to qualify for Paris to putting up a gutsy swim to win the 100, Guiliano has undoubtedly been one of the swimmers of the meet. He added qualification in the 50 freestyle late in the meet.

Even NBC Sports broadcaster Dan Hicks noted the impact of the Irish: “It’s only natural that a man from Notre Dame would perform well in a football stadium.”

Guiliano added: “I’m just so excited to represent (Notre Dame). And for everything it means, I hope to represent it well.”

Jess Geriane, a rising senior at Notre Dame, knows exactly what it means for the program to perform on this level.

“Being able to swim at one of the fastest meets in the world is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “I think this definitely adds fuel to the fire in terms of the program’s goals and acts as motivation for greater success.”

The Green Wave

Notre Dame fans by Emily Cameron

On Wednesday, June 19, a record number of fans came to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch some of the most exciting events of the week and Notre Dame fans were no exception. The Leprechaun Legion, the name for the student section at Notre Dame home games, was in full force in the suite level. Eyes looking toward the East side of the stadium saw a group of almost 100 Irish fans decked out in green. It was a crowd of Irish fans that woke up the echoes, and brought the football energy of Notre Dame Stadium with them.

Karl Peterson, an alum of the Irish program, was one of the organizers of the large Irish contingent.

“We knew Wednesday had the setup to be a breakout day and it did not disappoint,” he said. “We wanted to get a ton of the base – alumni, parents, swimmers on the team and their friends and families together.”

The “home base” that was created filled the stadium with cheers such as “I-R-I-S-H” and “Let’s Go Irish” and even a little cowbell every time a swimmer representing Notre Dame was in the water. Seeing the support is a feeling for Guiliano that never gets old.

“It’s a different kind of emotion every single time,” he said. ‘To see their support, to see them come down and really show out, it means the world to me.”

When talking about the Irish faithful in one spot on Wednesday, Peterson added: “We thought this would be a good idea…we were wrong…it was an outstanding idea”

Janton added: “A lot of people were surprised that there was this much hype and fan base around us but that’s just the Notre Dame spirit. That’s what we bring to the table when were at a swim meet.”

Peterson also wants those to know that they don’t plan on going anywhere.

“I’ve been amazed about the number of people that have come up to me to say something about the Irish support,” he said. “I can now only say ‘get used to it!'”

It should be noted that Chris Guiliano is the second male to qualify for the Olympic Games in swimming from Notre Dame, but the first to be a swimmer at Notre Dame and qualify. In 1912, Harry Hebner won three Olympic Medals at the Olympic Games in Stockholm and was a student at Notre Dame before the swim program came into existence.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 day ago

It would be nice for Swimming World to publish a list of all the Olympians, male and female, that showed their college and current training coach. Not just one college.

1 hour ago

I’ve worked online for $84, 8254 so far this year, and I attend school full-time. I’ve heard about an internet business opportunity that I’m employing, and I’ve made a ton of money. It’s quite easy to use, and I’m glad I learned about it. This is what I do.Please click this link for additional information. Thank you >>>>> joinwork7.blogspot.com

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x