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ND Women’s Swimming: Behrens helps lead ND into Big East stretch run

Molly Sammon | Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When it came time to pick a college after a heavy recruiting process, the choice was easy for junior Maggie Behrens, who currently holds the team’s seasonal best times in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events.

“I’ve always been a big Notre Dame fan since both of my parents went to school here,” said Behrens, who hails from northwestern Indiana. “I feel in love with the school, the traditions and, most importantly, the team.”

Partially because of her parents’ experiences at Notre Dame, Behrens was not caught off-guard by the school’s academic challenges. In fact, they were more a selling point than a deterrent to joining the Irish.

“I knew I didn’t want to compromise my education for athletics, and Notre Dame has that great balance and is strong in both areas,” Behrens said. “You have to learn how to balance your time and make a lot of adjustments.”

Behrens credits much of her growth in the sport to her years of practice in high school.

“High school swimming in Indiana was a big deal,” Behrens said. “It got me where I am today.”

Currently, Behrens is competing in three different events, the 50-free (23.81), the 100-back (55.61) and the 200-back (2:01.66). All three of her seasonal best times were reached at the Ohio State Invitational on Dec. 5-7.

“I’ve always loved the backstroke, maybe because I get to breathe as much as I want,” Behrens said. “I like the 50-free because it’s short and sweet.”

With just a few weeks to go before the Big East Championships on Feb. 18, Behrens is ranked third in both the 100-back and 200-back, and tenth for the 50-free in the conference’s pre-championship rankings.

“Even though we are confident, the Big East meet can still be a very nerve-wracking meet, both as an individual and as a team,” Behrens said. “Knowing that all the hard work you have put in for the last six months comes down to a few races is very stressful.”

Tough practices and a winter break training trip to the Bahamas have been quite helpful in preparing the team for the challenge of the championships at the natatorium in Indianapolis, where the team will try for its 13th straight Big East title.

“We have nine water work-outs a week, plus three weightlifting sessions, and dryland [workouts] on Saturdays,” Behrens said.

An intense practice schedule – which Behrens said includes nine water work-outs, three weightlifting sessions, and a Saturday dry-land workout each week – has not only prepared the team for conference championships, but has also intensified team bonding.

“[Behrens] really is a team player who knows how to be both competitive and supportive at the same time,” senior Claire Hutchinson said. “She loves to race; she brings that type of mentality to practice with her everyday, and it really elevates the intensity of our training environment.”

Approaching the most important part of the season, Behrens has a clear plan of preparation for the conclusion of the season.

“My biggest challenge for the rest of the season will be fixing the small, technical aspects of my races in time for the Big East Championships,” Behrens said. “I’ve put in the hard work, now I just need to make the right adjustments to make sure my races are perfect.”