Reaney sets American record
Kit Loughran | Monday, February 24, 2014
The Irish made quite the splash — and some significant history — with a 6th-place finish at their first ACC Championships appearance in Greensboro, N.C.Virginia captured its seventh-straight ACC title, but Irish junior Emma Reaney stood out from the pack and made national news by setting the American record in the 200-yard breaststroke Saturday night with her first-place finish. She swam an the event in 2:04.34 to break Texas A&M senior and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Breeja Larson’s record by .14 seconds.
“It’s all pretty surreal right now,” Reaney said. “I can barely finish basic human functions right now, let alone comprehend what happened this weekend, but I honestly couldn’t be happier.
“To have all of my hard work pay off like this is the most rewarding feeling I’ve ever experienced.”
Reaney not only set a national record this weekend, but she also earned distinction as the Most Valuable Female Swimmer of the event. Reaney set four additional school records this week in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.46), 200-yard individual medley (1:54.92), 200-yard medley relay (1:37.61) and 400-yard medley relay (3:33.93). Her 200-yard breaststroke, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley times set not only school records, but also set ACC, ACC meet and ACC Championships record times.
Reaney’s times in the 100-yard breastroke and the 200-yard individual medley earned her two more first-place finishes to go along with the result in the 200-yard breaststroke. She and her relay team of freshman Catherine Mulquin, senior Kate Ryan and junior Courtney Whyte took third and second place in the 200-yard medly relay and 400-yard medley relay, respectively.
“We showed up in a big way in the medley relays and I think we took a lot of people off guard,” Reaney said. “We definitely want to work our way up those standings in the years to come.”
With Reaney leading the way, the Irish had strong individual performances throughout the championships that helped them accumulate 802 points during the week to earn their sixth place finish out of 12 teams. Virginia secured the top spot with 1,433 points, North Carolina took second with 1,205 and Florida State rounded out the top three with 972.
“I think we held our own pretty well,” Reaney said. “I’d say it was a pretty solid start for our first year in the conference.”
All 20 Notre Dame swimmers either competed in finals or scored points as the Irish continued to break individual record times. Six school records were set and six individual swimmers paved their way to the NCAA Championships. Reaney, Ryan, Mulquin, Whyte, junior Suzanne Bessire and freshman Katie Miller automatically qualified for the NCAA. However, a few other Irish swimmers wait until next week to hear the official word on their NCAA qualifications.
Though the Irish did not win the championship title, they remained consistent and competitive throughout the week.
“Our team’s biggest strength [this week] was definitely how close-knit we are,” Reaney said. “We were genuinely invested in every single swim, and it is so incredibly helpful to know that your whole team is behind you supporting you when you step up to the blocks.”
With that sense of team unity and support, the Irish will return to the training pool. Reaney may be an American record holder, but even she cannot get too ahead of herself with the NCAA Championships quickly approaching.
“We just go right back into training [from here],” Reaney said. “We have about three weeks until NCAAs so we’ll go back to regular training for about half of that, and then rest again until the meet.
“It’s such an exciting time of the season, and I can’t wait to get going.”
The Irish move onto the NCAA Championships, which begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, Minn., at University Aquatic Center.
Contact Kit Loughran at email@example.com