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ND Women’s Swimming and Diving: Casareto, Chiang battle for top spot, lead team

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At 3-2 on the year and with a roster sporting 10 freshmen, the Irish have seen their share of ups and downs so far this season. However, Notre Dame has always been able to count on its divers.

Against TCU and Oakland to start the season, freshman Allison Casareto placed second in the three-meter dive. In every other three- and one-meter dive, the Irish have taken first. Included in that streak is first place finishes in both diving events against Auburn, last season’s No. 4 team nationally.

Most of the credit goes to Casareto and junior Jenny Chiang, who have teamed up to for multiple first and second finishes this season. Chiang has twice won the Big East title in the three-meter and participated in the USA Diving Winter National Championships in February and again competed nationally over the summer. She said she began the fall with high expectations, but has also gotten help from her teammate.

“I came off a really good season in the summer after competing for nationals last year,” Chiang said. “I came into this season hoping I would perform even better than last year. Obviously I always hope to get first every time I dive, but it hasn’t been just me. Allison has been doing really well. It’s nice to win but it’s also nice to see her do well.”

According to Chiang, the competition between Notre Dame’s two top divers does not mean bad blood. She said they instead focus on the team’s success.

“It’s always very friendly competition in practice,” she said. “I always want to see her do well. It’s also nice because if I don’t do well, I know Allison or [freshman] Jordan [Russell] or someone else will do well to fill in and pick us up on an off day.”

In addition to her superior effort during meets, Chiang also assumes a veteran’s position during practice. She said she expected the young Irish squad to need help, just as she did as a freshman, but that each diver requires a different form of leadership.

“I think it’s a little of both,” Chiang said of her leadership style. “Coming in I was expecting to take a lot of the leadership role just because the other divers were so young. They had a lot of questions just like I did when I was a freshman. Also, there’s the aspect of seeing what other people do and just learning from them. It works differently for different people.”

Contact Cory Bernard at [email protected]