Justin Plaschka und NCAA Division 1
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

Day 2 of the 2017 NCAA Division I Swimming Championships in Indiana saw a number of the CARIFTA region’s top sprinters in action including Jamaica’s number 1 sprinter Justin Plaschka. Justin who is a Junior at the University of Notre Dame was in record setting form on Thursday March 23.

The first standard to fall was the 200 yard freestyle relay mark in the morning heats .The team of Plaschka 19.66 (split time 9.38),Daniel Speers18.85,Reed Fujan 19.37 and Tabahn Afrik 19.41 recorded a total time of 1:17.29. That performance placed them 13th overall and bettered their previous standard of 1:17.37.

In the individual 50 yard freestyle event Plaschka went faster than his lead off leg to place 33rd in a time of 19.58 (split time 9.34).

The second record to fall would be in the 400 yard medley relay. The team of Robert Whitacre backstroke 46.67, Trent Jackson breaststroke 52.06,Plaschka  butterfly 45.89 and Afrik freestyle 42.18  set a new school mark of 3:06.90.That bettered their old record of 3:07.99 set the ACC’s (Atlantic Coast Championships).Justin’s butterfly split then was 46.36.After the preliminaries in the event Notre Dame was 15th .

In the 200 yard freestyle relay B Finals in the afternoon Justin would set 2 records in one event. Leading off the relay Plaschka would lower his own school record of 19.38 with a time of 19.35 (split time 9.25). His teammates Speers 18.73, Fujan 19.50 and Afrik 19.39 helped Notre to a total effort of 1:16.97. It was also the best showing ever for the school at the Championships in the event as they placed 3rd .

The 400 yard medley relay team was disqualified in the B final.



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Justin Plaschka Silver medallist in the 50 yard freestyle Photo courtesy of Perry McIntyre and Nancy Bradley

Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka will join a number of the CARIFTA region’s best male swimmers who will be competing at the NCAA Division I Championships to be held from March 22-25 at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis. Before Justin competed as freshman on the Notre Dame 200 yard medley relay at the Championships in 2015 the last Jamaican to compete at the highest level in Division I was Olympian Sion Brinn in 1995 for Louisiana State University. In 2016 he emulated Brinn’s feat in qualification for an individual event when he met the standard for the 50 and 100 yard freestyle as well as the 100 yard butterfly. In addition to that he swam Fighting Irish teams in the 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays. For 2017 he will be competing in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle, the 200 and 400 yard medley relays as well as the 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays.

Qualification for the Championships in Indianapolis was possible due to Justin’s good showing at the ACC Championships held in Atlanta Georgia from Feb 27 to March 2.The school record book at Notre Dame now features the name Justin Plaschka prominently in 7 events.

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Justin reacting to new school record and pb in the 50 yard freestyle Photo courtesy of Perry McIntyre and Nancy Bradley

In the 50 yard freestyle Plaschka earned his first medal in the 50 yard freestyle at the Championships when he won Silver in the event. He swam to a PB of 19.54 (split time 9.41) in the heats. In the final he was out even faster in 9.32 to win Silver in another PB of 19.38.In winning the medal he bettered the school record of 19.45 set by teammate Daniel Speers in the morning preliminaries.

When draftingthecaribbean spoke the Notre Dame junior on March 4 he spoke about his achievement

I went into the final knowing that it was going to be a super close race and I knew that I’d have to have to really try to focus to get my hand on the wall first so in the race I really worked on hitting my underwater properly and not burying my head too much and it worked out pretty well. I was really happy with my time and also how my teammate, Dan Speers did as well because we were both on the bubble for NCAA invite times

In 2015 Plaschka finished 26th in the race in 20.12 .Last year he was 8th in 19.72.

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ACC 200yard freestyle relay Bronze medallists from left to right Dan Speers, Reed Fujan, Taban Afrik and Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of Perry McIntyre and Nancy Bradley

In the 200 yard freestyle relay the Fighting Irish team of Justin 19.61, Speers 18.86, Tabahn Afrik 19.61 and Reed Fujan 19.29 posted a total time of 1:17.37 to win the Bronze. That bettered the NCAA A standard of 1:17.77 as well as the old school record of 1:18.46 which was set at last year’s championships.

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ACC 400 yard frestyle relay Bronze medallists from left to right Daniel Speers, Justin Plaschka, sprint coach April Woo, Afrik Tabhan and Reed Fujan Photo courtesy of Perry McIntyre and Nancy Bradley

The same quartet would be assembled for the 400 yard freestyle relay. They would again be faster than the NCAA A standard of 2:52.45 as well as the school record from the 2016 ACC Championships of 2:52.18. Plaschka 43.54, Afrik 42.52, Fujan 42.96 and Speers 42.54 had a total effort of 2:51.56 to win the Bronze medal.

The consistency of being under the NCAA A standard of 1:25.05 and the 2014 school record of 1:25.46 was again exhibited in the 200 yard medley relay. The team in this race was Robert Whitacre backstroke 21.87, Trent Jackson breaststroke 23.66, Justin butterfly 20.63 and Speers freestyle 18.72.Their combined effort of 1:24.88 won the Bronze.

The 100 yard freestyle saw Justin breaking 43 seconds for the first and setting a school record. He accomplished the feat by winning the B final in a time of 42.87 (split time 20.11). The previous record of 42.96 was set by teammate Afrik in the morning heats. He gave his thoughts about the event

“In the 100 freestyle I was pretty disappointed with my morning swim and had really wanted to make it into the a-final so I was really determined to go faster at night. Also going into the final session we were in a super tight team race for third place so I knew that any points mattered. I really just layed everything on the line and went out as hard as I could and tried to hold on and it was a super painful race but it went pretty well. I was happy with my time but more happy that I was able to win the heat for my team”.

The 100 yard butterfly saw Justin just missing out being the first swimmer from Notre Dame to clock a sub 46 second time. He swam to 46.05 (split time 21.40) .The old school record was 46.37.In the Championship final he 4th in 46.19 (split time 21.35). He gave his insight on the race

“The 100 fly actually surprised me with how well I did in the morning session. I am usually a much better performer in the night session so I was very happy with how I swam in the morning and to go a best time. In finals my coach just wanted me to take it out hard and I tried to which is what hurt me a little on the back half but I’m still very happy with how I swam”.

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New school record holders in 200 and 400 yard medley relay Dan Speers, Justin Plaschka, Robert Whitacre and Trent Jackson Photo courtesy of Perry McIntyre and Nancy Bradley

The 400 yard medley relay team of Whitacre backstroke 46.56, Jackson breaststroke 52.03, Justin butterfly 46.36 and Speers freestyle 43.04 sped to a new school record of 3:07.99 to place 4th overall.Notre Dame had their highest position ever of 3rd at the ACC’s with 923.5 points.


Plaschka told of training leading up to ACC’s and the reasons behind the faster collegiate times this year

Training up to ACC’s was great. This year we have a great sprint group and everyone was training hard and competing and everyone was swimming well in practice so the mood was very upbeat. This year is the first under our new head coach (Mike Litzinger) and the atmosphere on deck has been totally different from the years in the past. Everyone has really been working hard and working as a team and striving to be better and I think the fact that everyone has been doing so well together and working so hard for each other has really made the team improve how it has this year. We wanted to go into conference and surprise people and I think we did that.

He also spoke about the impact of representing Jamaica and plans for the summer

I think it has definitely helped me out in certain ways. It gave me experience and confidence competing at such high level meets and under the spotlights and it is definitely helpful at meets where there is a lot of pressure on you. I think that I am hoping to compete at the world championships this summer. Hopefully that will be my Big meet for the summer”

Justin, who is the fastest swimmer Jamaica, has ever produced in the yards as 19.38, short course metres 22.51 and long course metres 22.77 will be first be in action in the heats of the 50 yard freestyle on Thursday March 23.


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Justin Plaschka Photo Courtesy of

Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka continues to improve his form ahead of the World Short Course Swimming Championships to be held in Windsor Canada from Dec 6-11. He showed his increased speed at the North Carolina State Greensboro Aquatic Center Invitational held from Nov 17 to Nov 19.


In the 200 yard freestyle relay he led off the Notre Dame A team with a time of 20.09 under the NCAA B standard for the 50 yard freestyle of 20.19. It was just off his season best of 20.00. The other team members comprising of Daniel Speers (19.21), Tabahn Afrik (19.61) and Reed Fujan (19.79) combined for a total time of 1:18.70 to place 2nd . It was the 9th fastest time in the NCAA Division 1 this season. The team’s performance was just off the school record of 1:18.46 set at the 2016 ACC competition. That exact time is also the NCAA B standard for 2017. A time that should be beaten as the season goes on.

Plaschka’s season best in the 50 yard freestyle would fall in the A final of the event. He would better the 201.19 B standard for the 5th time this season and break the 20 second barrier when he record 19.91 (split time 9.56) for 4th place.

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Justin Plaschka

Another season best would be realized in the 100 yard butterfly. In the final he broke the 22 seconds barrier in the 1st 50 with a split of 21.85. He stopped the clock in a time of 46.82 well under the NCAA B standard of 48.29. He was not far off his personal best and school record of 46.37.

In the 100 yard freestyle heats Justin lowered his season best from 44.84 to 44.74 to make the B final. In that race he went under the 44 seconds barrier and NCAA B time of 44.29 to record a win in a time of 43.96 (split time20.60).

In the 100 yard backstroke he was 33rd in a time of 49.73(split time 23.21). That was his fastest ever collegiate performance and his best time since May 2014.

The Fighting Irish seem set to break a number of school records in the relays this season. In the 400 yard medley relay the team of Rob Whitacre backstroke (47.81), Trent Jackson breaststroke (53.83), Plaschka butterfly (46.81) and Afrik freestyle (42.98) clocked a season best time of 3:11.43 for 3rd place. It was just off the 2016 school best time of 3:11.42 and closes in on the school record of 3:09.50.

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Notre Dame’s record breaking 400 yard freestyle relay team at the back from left to right Daniel Speers and Tabahn Afrik In front Justin Plaschka and Reed Fujan

The 400 yard freestyle relay saw the team of Afrik 43.31, Speers 43.43, Reed Fujan 43.76 and Justin 43.74 recording a total time of 2:54.24 for 2nd. It was just off the NCAA B time of 3:53.68.It places them at number 10 in the nation.

The 200 yard medley relay saw Justin turning a freestyle split of 19.43 to help the A team to 6th in 1:27.43. When asked about his performances Justin said

“I’m just overall very happy with the times that I was able to put up at the invitational. We had only suited up and rested for about three days and the fact that I was able to go 43, 19 and 46 were all awesome as I’ve never done that besides on a full taper.”

Notre Dame placed 2nd of the 8 competing teams with 1593 points.


Justin Plaschka
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

Jamaica’s Justin Plaschka continues to round into form ahead of his senior team debut at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada in December with a strong performance against Purdue on Friday October 28.


Plaschka was unbeaten in all 4 of the events that he contested. In the 50 yard freestyle he recorded a season best and NCAA Division I B time of 20.13 (split time 9.70).His previous season best standard was 20.51. Justin bettered the B cut of 20.19 with just his 3rd individual race of the season. It also ranks Plaschka 15th in Division I. At the World Short Course Championships which will be contested in a 25 metre pool he will be chasing the 50 metre freestyle mark of legendary Jamaican swimmer Sion Brinn. That Jamaican standard was set at 22.33 in his World Cup victory in Malmo Sweden in 1997.

In the 100 yard butterfly he posted a winning time of 48.86 (split time 22.39). He was again within striking distance of the NCAA B time of 48.29.His target in Windsor for the 100 metre butterfly will be 56.22. That mark was set by Aidan Chow in November 2015.

In relay action his Fighting Irish A team of Daniel Speers (20.54), Reed Fujan 20.51 and Tabahn Afrik (19.72) posted the 7th fastest time in Division 1 of 1:20.71. Plaschka’s 2nd  leg split of 19.94 was his best freestyle performance of the season.

Notre Dame also put in their best team performance in the 200 yard medley relay posting a time of 1:29.77. The splits for that effort were Robby Whitacre backstroke 23.23, Trent Jackson breaststroke 25.43, Justin butterfly 21.26 and Speers freestyle 19.85.

Notre Dame won the contest 165 to 135.


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Justin Plaschka Diving off the blocks

The University of Notre Dame’s Jamaican sophomore Justin Plaschka continued to improve his form leading up the World Short Course Swimming championships in Windsor in December. Competing in a 2 day meet (Friday Oct 21 to Oct 22) against Georgia Tech at the Herb McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta saw Justin registering big time drops.


In the 100 yard butterfly dropped from 51.00 to win the race in 48.37 (split time 22.40). It also bettered the NCAA B standard time of 48.49

The Fighting Irish A team of Plaschka 20.63, Daniel Speers 19.87, Tabahn Afrik 20.11 and Reed Fujan 20.51 posted a winning time of 1:21.12 in the 200 yard freestyle relay. That beat the season best of 1:22.84 and puts the team as 5th fastest in Division I. Justin also set a season best with his opening leg time which also doubled as the fastest opening split of the relay.

The A team would again be on top of the podium in the 400 yard freestyle relay. The splits for that event were Afrik 44.49, Speers 44.41, Fujan 44.94 and Plaschka 44.58. The total time was 2:58.49 which put them well clear of Georgia Tech A who touched in 3:01.89. It also ranks the team as the 8th fastest in Division I.


Plaschka’s season best of 20.63 would not last long as he clocked 20.51 for 2nd in the individual event. He would be on the podium again in the 100 yard freestyle when he hit the pads in 44.83 for 2nd place. In the 400 yard medley relay Justin swimming the butterfly leg for the B team clocked 48.61 to help them to 3rd in 3:20.55.

The Fighting Irish beat the Yellow Jackets 181-172.

Justin had the following thoughts about his performance

“I was happy with my times as they’ve been some of my best in season times in my college career. And I was happy that I was able to go these times and compete even though we are in the middle of intense training. It makes me excited for the rest of the year and makes me look forward to racing at Short Course Worlds”.


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Justin Plaschka


Top Jamaican sprinter Justin Plaschka had his first yards meet of the season when his Notre Dame team faced the University of Oakland. The meet was held at Notre Dame’s home pool on October 8.


Justin finished 2nd in the 50 yard freestyle 20.83 (split time 10.22) to teammate Daniel Speers. Speers won the event in a time of 20.57. In the 200 medley relay Justin’s Fighting Irish B team finished a close second to the A team 1:31.86 to 1:31.01. The splits for the B team were Plaschka backstroke 23.35, Rex Riley breaststroke 25.81, Soren Holm butterfly 22.10 and Reed Fujan freestyle 20.60. Justin had the 2nd fastest backstroke split of the 8 competing relay teams.

Competing for exhibition purposes only, Plaschka posted 51.00 in the 100 yard butterfly with a time of 51.00 (split time 24.10). His A team in the 200 yard freestyle relay, also swimming for exhibition posted the fastest time of the day. Plaschka started the relay with the fastest opening split of 21.00, next was Speers 20.17, followed by Reed Fujan 20.55 and anchored by Dan Fujan 21.112 for a total time of 1:22.84.  Notre Dame won the contest 175 to 107.


Justin Plaschka
Justin Plaschka Photo courtesy of

Jamaican Justin Plaschka opened his 2016-2017  season with a relay win as Notre Dame faced off against the University of Iowa and Michigan State of Friday Sep 30 in East Lansing Michigan.


The meet which was held in a long course (50 metre pool) saw his Fighting Irish A team win the 400 metre freestyle relay. The team of Tabahn Afrik (52.60), Daniel Speers (54.80), Plaschka (55.25) and Reed Fujan (52.94) won the event in 3:35.59. Michigan State A was 2nd in 3:38.12 and Iowa A 3rd in 3:38.25.


In the individual 100 metre freestyle he finished 4th in a time of 54.51. He also had a 4th place finish in the 400 metre medley relay. He split 58.11 on the butterfly leg as his B team finished in a total time of 4:02.74.

Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 159 to 62 and also turned back Iowa 151 to 72.

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Justin Plaschka

Plaschka who holds the national records in the 50 (24.46) and 100 metre butterfly (54.71) events has been selected to represent Jamaica at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Windsor Canada from Dec 6-11.

Justin had the following thoughts about his season opener and his up senior level debut

I’m just very excited to start up another season. Training the past few weeks before the meet has been extremely difficult so it was good to just go out and race. Training has been going very well so I am excited to see how the rest of the year goes. I am also very excited to be able to go to the Short Course World Championships. I’ve always felt I am better in a shorter pool and it will be exciting to compete for the first time in a 25 meter pool.”