Reaney shines at championships
Kit Loughran | Monday, March 24, 2014
Junior Emma Reaney dominated the pool at the NCAA championships.
Reaney won the national championship in the 200-yard breaststroke at the NCAA championships on Saturday night. Reaney, who set an American record time in the event one month ago at the ACC championships, broke her own NCAA, U.S. Open, and American records with a winning time of 2:04.06. She is the first swimmer from Notre Dame to win an individual title.
“I personally could not imagine a better way [than winning a national title] to represent the University that I love so much,” Reaney said. “No one ever thought that a school not known for swimming like Notre Dame could be on top of that podium and it feels great to prove them wrong. I’m so proud to be Irish.”
With her record time, Reaney had a second and a half margin over runner-up finishers Katie Olsen of Stanford and Breeja Larson of Texas A&M, who tied for second with a time of 2:05.88.
Reaney dominated the race from the beginning and had the fastest split for each lap. She swam the first 100 yards in 59.35 and the final 100 in 1:04.71. But Reaney said the race was far from effortless.“[The most challenging part was] staying in my own lane,” Reaney said. “I’m usually not someone to get in my own head during meets, but this one proved a little harder than normal to keep my thoughts on me. I think it taught me a lot about how I operate and how to handle pressure.”
Despite the added pressure, Reaney was able to keep her eye on the prize and not back down.
“During warm ups, [Irish coach Brian Barnes] was pretty much building up my confidence by telling me how strong I looked before the race, and I felt it,” Reaney said. “I’d been training all year for that event and knowing I had all the hard work of this season behind me, I was pretty confident when I stepped up to the blocks.”
Reaney’s performance Saturday night mirrored her successful junior campaign. She finished this weekend’s meet with three All-America trophies, which brings her career total to 10. Reaney is now only two trophies away from passing former Notre Dame swimmer Carrie Nixon, who had 12 during her career.
Overall, the Irish tied with NC State for 16th place at the Championships. Reaney contributed 12 points in the 200 IM, 16 in the 100 breaststroke and 20 in the 200 breaststroke. The Irish beat ACC rivals North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech and Florida State.
Freshman Katie Miller beat her personal record in the 200 backstroke in the preliminary round for a 22nd place finish (1:57.54). Senior Christen McDonough ended her Notre Dame career with a 50th place finish in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:14.99 in the preliminary round. She finished 27th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.65. Junior Bridget Casey took 32nd place in 200 fly (1:57.93) and 45th in the 400 IM (4:17.26).
“I’m really proud of this team this season,” Reaney said. “We are working our way up in the swimming world and we couldn’t do it without the huge amount of love we have for one another. We are so close and the ups and downs of this season have taught us a lot that I think we can use in our favor next year.”