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ND Women’s Swimming: ND earns best finish at NCAAs in 11 years

Andrew Cardoza | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

For Notre Dame, this past season was full of personal growth and success in the pool. The six-month period of competition was capped up with top-five finishes in all its invitational meets. Irish coach Brian Barnes knows this season was one to remember for all its successes and hard work behind it.

“There was so many highlights and great things to take away from this wonderful season,” Barnes said. “I am proud on how our girls performed all season. We brought the hard work from practice to the meets and [it] showed.”

The Irish (5-5) concluded their season with a 22nd place finish at the NCAA championships, the highest the Irish have finished in the last 11 years. The Irish finished second in both swimming and diving at the Big East championships and produced two All-Americans; freshman Emma Reaney and sophomore Kelly Ryan.

“My favorite memory was this season was just seeing us putting girls on the podium at meets,” Barnes said. “You put so much time into the year and you gain so much out of it.”

Reaney came into the NCAA championships seeded 10th in the 200-yard individual medley, improved by one slot in the morning session, and finished just 0.16 seconds out of eighth place, an automatic All-America scroll. She became the first Irish swimmer to earn All-America honors since Samantha Maxwell in 2010. She is also the first Irish freshman to earn those accolades since Katie Carroll in 2004.

“From this season, I have learned that you never know for sure what your limits really are,” Reaney said. “Just when you think you’ve gone the fastest time you ever could, if you keep working hard, there’s no saying how much time you can shave off.”

Reaney also lowered the Irish 200-yard individual medley record from 2:00.09 to 1:55.67 with her NCAA effort. She was three-time Big East Swimmer of the Week, the 2011-2012 MVP and a four-time Big East champion in the 400-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard individual medley, and 100-yard breaststroke, as well as the Big East championships record-holder in the 200-yard individual medley.

“I need to make sure to keep pushing myself and not letting myself be satisfied with anything,” Reaney said. “Next season can be better as long as push myself to its highest potential.”

Barnes said Reaney taking five seconds off the school record in the 200-yard individual medley was an amazing part of the season.

“She worked so hard this season to get where she is at,” Barnes said. “Taking five seconds off the record is an outstanding accomplishment and it was just fascinating to watch and be a part of.”

Junior diver Jenny Chiang qualified for the NCAA championships for the first time in her collegiate career and placed first for the third consecutive year on the three-meter board at the Big East championships.

“I think my favorite memory from this season would probably have to be watching my teammates perform at our Big East conference championship,” Chiang said. “Since our team was mostly compromised of freshmen, it was awesome to see them not only compete in their first big conference meet, but also do incredibly well.”

Barnes knows if this season was any indicator, next year will be even better and hopefully yield even stronger results.

“This year’s team was a little different in that we has an incredible, determined team spirit,” Barnes said. “We have a young team and I am enthusiastic and encouraged for an exciting future.”

Contact Andrew Cardoza at acardoza@nd.edu