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ND Women’s Swimming: Squad travels to Auburn

By Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Irish coach Brian Barnes will revisit his former program as the Irish travel to Alabama to take on the Auburn Tigers in a Friday afternoon dual meet.

Barnes, who helped coach both Auburn’s men’s and women’s teams to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, said that his close ties with the Auburn coaching staff will make the visit more enjoyable and instructive.

“It’s friendly, that’s what’s nice about this meet,” Barnes said. “We’re going down and we’re going to compete against a team that’s well-coached, and we have a relationship with the coaching staff that’s a giving relationship, so one way or the other, we’re both going to learn something, both programs.”

Auburn beat Notre Dame 167-125 at the Rolfs Aquatics Center last season, and Barnes said the Tigers, who finished seventh in last year’s NCAA Championships and have won five national championships in the past decade, will provide a good challenge for the Irish this time around.

“They’re very reputable. They’re one of the more storied programs in Division-I NCAA history,” Barnes said. “[They’re] a very good program. We’re facing very good competition this weekend.”

That competition includes senior breaststroker Micah Lawrence, who took a redshirt season in 2011-2012 to train for the U.S. Olympics team. She qualified for the London Games in the 200-meter breaststroke, eventually finishing sixth in the finals. She has not lost a breaststroke race so far this fall. Tigers senior multi-eventer Katie Gardocki is undefeated in the 500-meter, 1,000-meter and 1,650-meter freestyle events.

The Irish might not have an Olympian on their squad, but they do have senior backstroke and freestyle specialist Kim Holden. Barnes said Holden has stood out over the past few weeks at the Dennis Stark Relays and in practice.

“Kim Holden’s been very consistent, very strong, very confident and just hard working,” Barnes said.

Barnes said that he hopes to see that confidence and consistency from all his swimmers Friday.

“I’d like to see improvement from the Dennis Stark Relays two weeks ago,” Barnes said. “As a coach, you always want to see improvement from meet to meet, and I want to see us compete and experience a ranked team and stand with poise and confidence and have a great attitude and compete.”

The Irish will also be sending three divers to Alabama to compete, including senior Jenny Chiang and sophomore Allison Casareto.

“I do have new dives for them,” Irish diving coach Caiming Xie said. “Auburn is a good team, so it will be a tough meet for the beginning of the season.”

The Irish will dive into action at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center at Friday at 4 p.m.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]