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ND Women’s Swimming and Diving: Strong relays make Irish competitive in Big East

Matt Unger | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the opening events of the Big East Championships, the Irish saved their best season times for the finals of each relay race. Notre Dame took third in both the 800-yard freestyle relay and 200-yard medley relay.

The Irish sit in second place with 135 points in the team standings, only nine points behind first-place Louisville.

In the 800-yard freestyle, the Irish team of senior Amy Prestinario, sophomore Kelly Ryan, and freshmen Suzanne Bessire and Emma Reaney finished third with a time of 7:15.31. They beat their previous top time on the season by more than six seconds. First-place West Virginia set a meet record with a time of 7:06.87.

Meanwhile, junior Kim Holden, sophomore Sarah Dotzel, Prestinario, and Ryan also earned third in the 200-yard medley, finishing in 1:40.94. Their finish time was the squad’s fastest on the year by over two seconds.

“The times dropped because our swimmers were well-rested and ready to go,” Irish assistant coach Kate Kovenock said. “Both our relays were strong, but we were pretty keyed up and need to get our emotions under control.”

Each relay swimmer also earned All-Big East honors with a top-three finish in an event, and Prestinario and Reaney each earned two.

“[Prestinario] has really developed into a true leader since the beginning of the year,” Kovenock said. “And [Reaney] has a tremendous learning curve and poise, especially for her first time at this kind of meet as a freshman.”

The Irish must have a balanced effort to catch the first place Cardinals, as 15 Notre Dame swimmers will compete in scoring events today. Only six competed Wednesday, Kovenock said.

“We need to have a balanced lineup and take advantage of all opportunities,” she said. “We also must realize that [success at this meet] requires a whole team effort.”

The events today kicked off the swimming portion of the Big East championships, as the diving competition spanned last Friday through Sunday. Entering the day, Notre Dame was second with 71 points, trailing first-place Louisville by only three points.

The Irish continue the second day of the Big East championships with four events at Trees Pool at the University of Pittsburgh. Preliminary races for the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard Individual Medley, 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay begin at 10:00 a.m. with the finals starting at 6 p.m.

Contact Matt Unger at munger3@nd.edu