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ND Women’s Swimming: Notre Dame looks to recapture Big East championship

By Matt Unger | Thursday, October 13, 2011

From 1997 to 2010, the Irish women’s swimming and diving team dominated the Big East, finishing first each year as conference champions. Though Louisville ended the 14-year streak last season, the Irish are gearing up to begin another run of Big East championships as they begin their season Friday.

The team will host and compete in the annual Dennis Stark Relays at the Rolfs Aquatic Center against Oakland and Texas Christian University.

The meet pays tribute to Dennis Stark, the former coach of both men’s and women’s swimming at Notre Dame.

Key swimmers returning for the Irish this season include junior Kim Holden and senior Amy Prestinario. Last season, Holden, who competed in back and fly events, held the squad’s best times in the 50, 100 and 200-yard backstrokes, along with the 100-yard fly. In addition, Holden qualified for the NCAA championships in March and competed in three events, including the 100 and 200-yard backstrokes.

Holden was just one of two Irish swimmers to qualify for the NCAA championships, the other being graduate Samantha Maxwell. Holden has been a stand out since her freshman year, when she won four Big East titles and earned six all-Big East honors.

The other team leader, Prestinario, a freestyle and individual medley swimmer, looks to continue her contributions to the team as a senior. Last season, she held the team’s two best times in the 50-yard freestyle and three of the five best times in the 100-yard freestyle.

Meanwhile, the diving team earned first place with 68 points in the 2011 Big East Diving Championships. Juniors Kimmie Lisiak and Jenny Chiang are two returning divers from that squad, which will feature three freshmen this season.

At the 2011 Big East Swimming Championships, the Irish took second place with 655.5 points, placing them 165 points behind the first place Cardinals.

Following the Dennis Stark Relays on Friday, the Irish will host Auburn at the Rolfs Aquatic Center for a meet Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.

Contact Matt Unger at [email protected]