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    Laura Thomas (@NDSportsBlogger)


    This morning, I woke up to what seemed like a million retweets from One Direction fan accounts on my twitter feed.

    At first, I thought I was being spammed. But, I quickly realized it was former Notre Dame swimmer Emma Reaney who was responsible for the retweets.

    Not only was she retweeting a bunch of tweets about 1D but she was actually MENTIONED in these tweets.

    Turns out, Emma went to a One Direction concert last night dressed up as a caterpillar.

    What? Yeah, I know. It sounds odd and sweaty but what happened next was awesome.

    At some point, Emma decided to throw her caterpillar costume on stage. Band member and British heartthrob Liam Payne then decided to put the costume on and perform the rest of the night in the caterpillar suit.

    He was even still wearing the suit when he left the concert.

    So, not only is Emma Reaney a national champion, a Notre Dame record holder and an American record holder, she is now also "the girl whose caterpillar costume Liam wore on stage."

    1D fans everywhere loved it. And so did we.

    Emma, we miss you here at Notre Dame but we're glad you're having fun in the "real world"!

    And if for some reason you don't know who Emma Reaney is, watch this video about her. It made me cry.

    A New Home

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    While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.

    From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.

    Here's a look at our three new blog websites:

    UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics

    Strong and True: Notre Dame Football

    Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer

    Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.

    Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.

    The Irish Remember Title IX

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    This past Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, an educational amendment that changed the world. In part, Title IX states:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...

    Last week, several Notre Dame student-athletes reflected on the momentous act in a feature for ESPN.

    Chiang On the Brink of History

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    5745119.jpeg Junior Jenny Chiang continued her dominance off the 3-meter springboard last Saturday when she took home the gold medal for the Irish for the third straight season. Chiang totaled 320.90 points over the course of six dives to win the title.

    Chiang became the first-ever Irish diver to win three titles off the 3-meter board at the conference meet. In fact, she is only the seventh athlete - and second diver - in program history to win three titles in the same events at the BIG EAST Championships. Meghan Perry-Eaton won the 1-meter title from 2003-05.

    Looking towards next season, only Kelly Hecking has won four titles in the same event (the 100 back from 1999-2002) at the conference stage. Chiang is truly on the brink of Irish history as she tries to become the first Irish diver to win four titles in the same event.

    Additionally, not only did Chiang prolong her own streak of consecutive 3-meter BIG EAST titles, but with her victory, the Notre Dame diving program has now won the last five 3-meter titles at the league meet.

    The dominance of Irish diving program traces back to veteran coach Caiming Xie, who is a six-time BIG EAST Diving Coach of the Year. Caiming, who is in his 16th year at the University, has led four Irish divers to the NCAAs, including four-time participant Heather Mattingly and three-time participant Meghan Perry-Eaton. Under Caiming's tutelage, Chiang hopes to become the fifth member of that select group.

    - Andrew Bartolini ('13)

    Never Forgetting

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    PNDP-O1992-0127-p01.jpg The Notre Dame swimming community came together last night - and shared stories, smiles, hugs and tears - at a Mass of Remembrance on the 20th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame women's swimming team bus accident. Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., presided, and its president emeritus, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., delivered the homily at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

    Shortly after midnight on Jan. 24, 1992, in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, a bus bringing the Irish women's swimming team back to campus from a meet at Northwestern University slid off the Indiana Toll Road and rolled over. Meghan Beeler from Granger,Ind., and Colleen Hipp from St. Louis, both freshmen, lost their lives in the accident. Most of the other swimmers, coaches and staff were injured, including Haley Scott, also a freshman, who was paralyzed for more than a week.

    Some 18 hours after the accident, Father Malloy presided at a Mass in the Basilica for the Notre Dame community to mourn and pray. The Mass on Tuesday was in memory of Meghan and Colleen, in thanksgiving for healing, and in appreciation to members of the Notre Dame and South Bend communities who responded at the time of the accident and beyond.

    Father Malloy talked about being in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., when he received a call with details of the accident. He flew back to campus the next morning and immediately was driven to the crash site alongside the Toll Road, where he remembered seeing personal belongings strewn by the roadside.

    The current Irish women's swimming team attended last night, all wearing their long blue winter parkas with Notre Dame on the back that became so familiar in conjunction with the tragedy 20 years ago.

    Wild Weekend

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    For those who will be around Notre Dame this weekend, prepare for the craziness that's about to hit campus. Over a 48-hour period from Friday through Sunday evening, there are eleven varsity athletic events scheduled at the university.

    Here's a quick look at the schedule:

    Men's Tennis vs. William & Mary at 6 p.m.
    Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)

    Indoor Track Notre Dame Invitational at 10 a.m.
    Women's Basketball vs. Villanova at 1 p.m. (UND.com)
    Women's Tennis vs. Cincinnati at 1 p.m.
    Women's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
    Men's Swimming vs. Michigan State at 2 p.m.
    Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse at 6 p.m. (ESPN)
    Hockey vs. #15 Michigan at 7:35 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

    Women's Tennis vs. Missouri at 11 a.m.
    Women's Tennis vs. IPFW at 5 p.m.

    There won't be any tailgating, Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches or team walk to the stadium, but the amount of traffic on campus might make it feel more like a football Saturday than a mid-winter weekend.

    Swimming and Blogging - Irish In Hawaii

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    The women's swimming and diving team spent its early January winter training trip in Honolulu, Hawaii. The team was able to escape the cold confines of the contiguous United States and bond as a squad as it prepared for the second half of the 2011-12 season.

    Tuesday, Jan. 4 - Nick Schappler ('12) - Senior Manager

    After several days of intensive training, the women began their morning with an hour of yoga on Waikiki Beach. They arrived just in time to watch the sun rise over the ocean horizon. Led by team yoga instructor Steve 'Krojo' Kroniewski the team transitioned between a handful of poses including child's pose. After completing the session, the women enjoyed a team breakfast and a well-deserved afternoon away from the pool. Many team members opted for an hour of paddle boarding on Waikiki Beach. Training resumed that evening at 6:00 p.m. as the team continued to prepare for the upcoming championship season.


    Thursday, Jan. 6 - Emma Reaney ('15) and Lauren Stauder ('14)

    A group of us decided to conquer Diamondhead mountain/crater on our morning off from swimming. After yoga and breakfast, we met in the lobby of the hotel where the two of us found out that great minds really do think alike as we were both wearing the same shirt, jean shorts and blue sunglasses.

    After recovering from the shock of our coincidental matching, we all caught a bus to the state park and started hiking our way up. We were entertained along the journey by Melissa Scott's hilarious stories and impeccable singing voice as well as the fabulous views from the side of the mountain.

    Once we had trudged up several sets of very steep stairs and braved our way through some claustrophobia-evoking tunnels, we finally reached the summit and realized it was worth the work. The 360-degree view of the island was breathtaking and as always, there are copious amounts of posed group pictures to prove it.

    After our adventure we continued our day enjoying the beach before our afternoon workout. Topping off the day, the team took a trip to Yogurtland where we stuffed our faces with delectable fro-yo.


    The Notre Dame women's swimming and diving team returned to South Bend from Honolulu on Jan. 12 and promptly left the next day for a double-dual meet in Ann Arbor, Mich. Despite being exhausted from a busy and fulfilling two weeks, the Irish performed admirably, winning five events and earning 12 top-three finishes. Emma Reaney won three individual events and teamed for a relay victory in earning her record-setting third BIG EAST Swimmer of the Week honor.

    Recognize Anyone?

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    The accolades continue to roll in for Notre Dame freshman women's swimmer Emma Reaney, as Sports Illustrated has included her in the Jan. 16 edition of Faces In The Crowd. The weekly feature has been a part of Sports Illustrated magazine since 1956 and highlights amateur athletes around the country for their athletic feats.

    Through the first three months of her rookie campaign, the Lawrence, Kan., product has won 13 races either individually or as part of a relay team. In addition to the school record in the 200 IM, Reaney is only 0.17 seconds away from the school mark in the 400 IM.

    She has earned two BIG EAST Women's Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week awards, becoming only the third swimmer since the award was created for the 2008-09 season to earn the accolade twice in one year.

    A standout in the classroom as well, Reaney turned in a 3.563 grade-point average in her first semester under the Golden Dome.

    Reaney Stellar for Notre Dame

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    LJWorld.com - Emma Reaney's freshman year at the University of Notre Dame has been an ongoing series of surprises.

    It wasn't moving away from home, the course load or college life in general that caught the Lawrence High graduate off guard, though. Instead, she has been kind of shocked about her prosperity in the pool.

    A freshman for Notre Dame's swimming and diving team, Reaney has become an instant success in South Bend, Ind. The Fighting Irish freshman already has an 8-0 record in individual-medley events (200 and 400 meters), and on Dec. 2 in Columbus, Ohio, she set a school record in the 200 IM - twice. After breaking the old mark in prelims at the Ohio State Invitational with a time of 1:58.47, Reaney bettered it in the final, finishing in 1:57.67.

    When she broke the old record of 2:00.09 in the prelim, Reaney wasn't aware of it.

    "I was just shocked. I had no idea," she said.

    The Notre Dame record board at the team's practice facility, she explained, is kind of small and on the other side of the pool from where the team swims. Reaney had never bothered to check out the times for her events, but her teammates and coaches quickly broke the news to her.

    That surprise came a couple of weeks after another one, when Reaney was named Big East Women's Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week in mid-November. The recognition wowed the Lawrence native.

    "I didn't even know that the Big East had an honor or award like that before I got here," she said. "I was kind of shocked that they were even paying attention to me as a freshman."

    Her record-breaking day at Ohio State earned Reaney more accolades. She received her second Big East award the following week.

    Reaney said she figured one couldn't win the award twice in the same season.

    Few have. Since the conference started handing out the honor in 2008, only two other swimmers - Notre Dame's Samantha Maxwell and Louisville's Therese Bergstrom - have pulled off the feat.

    "I really didn't expect to have this kind of success as a freshman," Reaney said.

    Taking on a weight-lifting regimen for the first time in her life, she said, helped her become stronger and cut seconds off her times.

    Fighting Irish head coach Brian Barnes, who has known Reaney since she was a child on the Lawrence Aquahawks club team, which he coached from 1998 to 2002, said, "You never know what to expect with freshmen," but he said he could tell Reaney was on the brink of something special because of her attitude and dedication to improving.

    "I can't really pin-point a bad performance, bad practice or anything like that," he said.

    Reaney's string of success has put her in position possibly to compete at the NCAA Championships in March, in Auburn, Ala. She swims in not only the IM but also the breaststroke, and at the Ohio State Invitational she finished in the top four in seven events and put together seven NCAA B-cut times. An A-cut automatically qualifies a swimmer for the championships in that event, but if the A spots don't fill up, the best B-cut times qualify.

    Reaney has a few months to post an A-cut time, and she thinks her best bets are in the 200 IM and 100 breast. Those aren't specific goals, however, because Reaney said she never really set any of those.

    That falls in line, she added, with Barnes' instruction to ND swimmers following their accomplishments. Reaney said the coach's message goes like this: "We're not gonna celebrate it, because that's not the limit. You never know what your limit is."

    "Sometimes the best thing you can do is just work our tails off and leave the gates wide open and see what happens," Barnes said.

    With Reaney's talent and ambitious approach, not even Barnes knows how she'll surprise herself next.

    "She's got seven more semesters at Notre Dame, right?" he said. "I mean, what else are you going to do?"

    Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

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