Casey races and honors her family legacy
Benjamin Padanilam | Tuesday, February 3, 2015
“She’s a short person, but she has a very big heart,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “She’s a gentle person, but she’s an intense competitor. She’s a loving person, but she’s very disciplined. I just think she combines a lot of the characteristics that you want to see in not just a great athlete, but also a person who is going to be a great leader in life, a great performer in life. I think she has all the tools.”
This was the praise Welsh had for Irish senior Bridget Casey.
After celebrating senior day last weekend at the final Shamrock Invitational of her college career, Casey is nearing the end of an era for her family. She grew up bleeding blue and gold, watching her father, uncle and two sisters all graduate and compete on the swimming and diving team at Notre Dame.
“I’ve known about Notre Dame my entire life,” Casey said. “You know the little kids running around in cheerleading outfits at football games? I was one of those kids. So this was definitely like my dream school. I’ve always wanted to come here.”
In fact, when Casey was making her college decision four years ago, her parents had to force her to look at other schools just so she was sure Notre Dame was the place she wanted to be.
“I always compared everything to Notre Dame,” said Casey. “When I was looking at schools, swimming was a big priority of mine obviously, along with academics and everything else. But my parents actually forced me to look at other schools. And I did like other schools, but this feels like home to me and it was just the perfect place. This was no other place that I wanted to go honestly.”
Throughout her career at Notre Dame, Casey has accomplished a great deal. Two milestones in particular, however, stand out to her, she said. The first of these accomplishments was qualifying for the NCAA championships, which she was able to do twice.
“Definitely making NCAAs my sophomore and my junior year, that was a big highlight of mine,” Casey said. “That was always a dream to make it to that meet and kind of be at that elite level.”
The second of these accomplishments was more personal in nature. In her sophomore year, Casey broke the school record in the 200-yard butterfly, which she then broke again her junior year at the ACC championships with a time of 1:56.52. The previous record-holder was her older sister.
“I was always looking at the record,” Casey said. “And I think she knew eventually I would break it. It actually meant a lot to me because it was her record and I really wanted that record. And it was actually interesting because when my dad swam here, he had the 200 fly pool record, and his pool record was 1:57.4 and the first time I broke it, I had a 1:57.4 so it was kind of weird. But then breaking it again last year, that was great. It was my best time ever and I made NCAAs again. It was unbelievable, a very humbling experience, and it was my goal.”
In the end, however, when she looks back on her career at Notre Dame, Casey says that she will most fondly remember being a part of her team.
“We have a very unique culture,” Casey said. “We’re very close-knit; we’re all best friends; we’re a huge family. We make memories in and out of the pool, in the social world, in the classroom, like everywhere on campus. They’ve shaped like everything that was Notre Dame for me.”
Casey will take the pool at home for one last time when the Irish take on Cleveland State this Saturday at noon in Rolfs Aquatic Center.