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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish aim for success again

By Alex Wilcox | Friday, October 11, 2013

Notre Dame will look to build off last year’s tremendous season when they kick off the 2013-14 campaign this Friday at the Dennis Stark Relays.

Last year’s team had success in nearly every category, whether it was swimming or diving, relays or individuals. Irish coach Brian Barnes said last year was as good as any season he could remember.

“We had a fantastic year,” Barnes said. “I think it’s as good a year as we’ve ever had. We had our highest placing ever at the NCAA Championships when we came in the 16th, we had 10 All-Americans and we broke nine school records.”

In addition to all the accolades Barnes mentioned, the Irish also had the Big East Swimmer of the Year, Big East Diver of the Year, Big East Diving Coach of the Year, and Big East Swimming Coach of the Year.

With all the success the team enjoyed last year, it would be only natural to assume this year’s squad would want to replicate the same success. However, Barnes said he is looking for this year’s team to surpass last year’s achievements.

“You don’t try and duplicate it, you try to do better than that, and that’s really what it comes down to,” Barnes said. “Right now, it’s to be seen whether we have the team that can be better than 16th in the country. I think we do, I think we have a very good team this year. Now this is October, so we have to get our act together so we can get in position where we can have a heck of a year.”

Barnes said he believes this team has the potential to be even better than last year, but noted that there are always changes that need to be made.

“I do believe in this team and the girls on this team, and I think we can do that, but to improve upon that we have to make changes, and that’s really what athletics is,” Barnes said. “If you want to get better, something has to change. You can’t do what you did last year and expect to be better this year.”

While he believes the team will be very successful this year, Barnes refused to put any concrete goals on the table.

“If you want an answer based on what outcome’s going to be, I can’t really answer that,” Barnes said. “We’ll see. We’ll see what the outcome is, but my expectations for this team are that we work hard, we do everything we can do to the best of our ability, we’re going to do what’s right, and we’re going to be good to one another.”

In order for the Irish to reach the heights Barnes believes they can, he will look to his most experienced swimmers to lead the team.

“[Junior] Emma Reaney, [junior] Bridget Casey, [senior] Kelly Ryan, [sophomore] Cat Galletti, those four are retuning NCAA swimmers,” Barnes said. “The senior class, the entire class, I expect them to lead, but I think predominantly most of our leadership is going to come from in the water, it’s going to come from the ones with the most experience at the NCAA level.”

Reaney has already earned All-American honors and has swam at the NCAA Championships, but Barnes believes the best is yet to come for the junior.

“Emma Reaney swam this summer, she was 21st in the world at the 200-yard breaststroke,” Barnes said. “She’s a legitimately awesome swimmer, and she’s getting her head on straight. I’m not saying it’s never not been on straight, but what I’ve seen in the water, I’m super excited for her and what is to come.”

In addition to Reaney and the rest of the upperclassmen, this year’s incoming freshmen have the potential to impress, Barnes said. 

“I like them,” Barnes said. “I like them, but freshmen are unpredictable. I’m cautious to do too much commenting on freshmen. Everybody thinks you do the recruiting thing, but you don’t really know them until you get them on campus. But I like this freshman class.”

The squad will kick off their season Friday at the Dennis Stark Relays at Rolfs Aquatics Center at 5 p.m. 

Contact Alex Wilcox at awilcox1@nd.edu