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ND Women’s Swimming: Team takes second at conference meet

Brian Hartnett | Sunday, February 19, 2012

Despite success in several individual and relay events over the final two days of the Big East championships at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh, Notre Dame was unable to take home the conference crown, falling to Louisville for the second consecutive year by a score of 758.5 points to 593.5.

The Irish took three individual titles over the final two days of competition, giving them four individual titles overall. Freshman Emma Reaney, who had claimed a victory in Thursday’s 200-yard individual medley, added a win in the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday to her impressive first-year resume. Reaney finished the 100-yard breaststroke event in 59.85 seconds, becoming only the second Irish swimmer to break the one-minute mark in the event.

Sophomore Kelly Ryan put on an impressive show Saturday night, taking the title in the 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle events. Ryan finished the 200-yard backstroke in a time of 1:55.56, which broke the Trees Pool record, before quickly transitioning to the 100-yard freestyle, which she won for the second consecutive year with a time of 49.38 seconds. With these two victories, Ryan now holds four individual Big East titles, which is tied for seventh in school history.

Ryan said she attributes her success in the Big East championships mainly to the encouragement of her teammates.

“I think this year we’ve all really connected as a team, and it’s really good to know that the team will support me through the ups and downs of a race,” she said.

The Irish relay teams were a major factor in the team’s second-place finish, as the 400-yard medley relay picked up a title Friday and the 400-yard freestyle relay followed up with a victory Saturday. The 400-yard medley relay squad of Ryan, Reaney, junior Kim Holden and senior Amy Prestinario took the fourth consecutive title in the event for the Irish, breaking the Trees Pool record with a time of 3:36.28. The 400-yard freestyle team of Ryan, Prestinario, freshman swimmer Suzanne Bessire and Reaney put forth a record-breaking performance of their own, shattering the school record in the event with a time of 3:18.93.

“I think our relay teams were so successful because of the confidence we have in each other,” Ryan said. “I think it was really important for us to trust the people on the relay with us fully and know that they could do well under any circumstance.”

Although the Irish claimed six titles, they were unable to catch Louisville, which led by three points going into the swimming portion of the championships. They never relinquished their lead, pulling away in the final two days of competition to win by 165 points.

With conference competition now completed, Notre Dame will focus its efforts on the NCAA Swimming and Diving championships, held in Auburn, Ala. in mid-March.

The Irish will return to competition Feb. 25, when they travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to compete in the Boiler-Make-It Last Chance meet.

 

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu