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ND Women’s Swimming: Program sets sights on 15th conference title

Observer Staff Report | Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Irish will travel to Pittsburgh this weekend for the Big East championships in the hopes of securing their 15th championship in their 17-year history in the Big East.

The one-week meet will kickoff on Friday with the diving portion of the championships. Junior diver Jenny Chiang is seeking her third Big East title in the 3-meter dive.

The swimming portion of the meet will begin on Wednesday and will run through Saturday evening. The Irish (6-6) have had great success in the last fifteen years at the Big East meet. They finished second last year behind only Louisville. The second place finish snapped a Big East record of 14 consecutive titles.

The Irish have a number of key members returning from last year’s team, including three individual champions and four members of winning relay teams. Junior Kim Holden and sophomore Kelly Ryan lead the Irish with a combined eleven Big East individual titles.

Holden is a seven-time Big East champion who won the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and was a member of the 400-medley relay that won the conference title last season. Ryan, meanwhile, is a four-time Big East champion who won the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle as a freshman. Ryan also goes into the meet with the top times in the 50-freestyle (23.17), 100-freestyle (49.62), 100-backstroke (53.60) and 200-backstroke (1:55.66).

Led by Emma Reaney, the freshmen have been a key spark for the Irish all season. Reaney has earned three Big East Women’s Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week awards — a new conference record for most honors in a season. She looks to finish among the top of the conference in the 200-individual medley after notching a new school record and the best time in the conference this season at 1:57.67.

With anticipation and pressure mounting prior to the championships, the Irish look to bring home a conference title when they take to the pool in Pittsburgh on Friday.