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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish win two of three

Cory Bernard | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So much for a relaxing Fall Break. After cruising to a pair of victories during a double dual meet Oct. 15 against TCU and Oakland, the Irish hosted No. 4 Auburn on Friday.

Against the Horned Frogs (3-1) and the Golden Bears (2-4), the Irish (2-1) won six of 16 total events, led by sophomore Kelly Ryan’s victories in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Bridget Casey was also impressive, earning a pair of runner-up finishes in the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle races as Notre Dame defeated TCU (173-127) and Oakland (207-93).

Though Notre Dame recorded some impressive individual performances against the Tigers (2-0), including junior diver Jenny Chiang’s victories in the one- and three-meter dives, Auburn proved too talented. The Tigers prevailed 167-125.

Irish coach Brian Barnes said that he won’t dwell on the loss to Auburn, but also said it was important for his team’s development.

“I’m not a big fan of moral victories,” Barnes said. “However, having a ranked team like Auburn come in ⎯ you learn a lot about who you are and you begin to see the team dynamic begin to take shape. We live by the one-minute rule ⎯ one minute to get over a great swim, one minute to get over a bad swim. We’re always looking to the next one, and how we competed against Auburn was very important for me.”

Because the Irish are still adjusting to the pace of competition, Barnes said fall meets are important for the coaching staff to evaluate a team returning from the offseason.

“Everyone’s gradually getting in better shape now that we are into our actual season,” Barnes said. “The early stages are about gathering a lot of information about the team. We have 10 freshmen on this team, so we are learning a lot. The road to March really is a learning experience.”

Casey’s impressive showing so far this season has not necessarily surprised Barnes, though he said he is still in the process of evaluating her skills.

“I really didn’t have any expectations,” Barnes said of Casey heading into this year. “She is a U.S. National Junior Team member, she comes from a great family and a great club team. We recruited her to come to Notre Dame to be successful, but I’m still observing very objectively at this point and I will be for a while.”

Though still gauging Casey’s ability and role on the team, Barnes said she has caught his attention.

“Her performance at Auburn was even more impressive than

against TCU and Oakland,” he said. “She had to swim the 1,000-free and then she came back and got her first win at Notre Dame in the 200-back. She’s one to keep your eye on.”

Notre Dame next competes at Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu