Head Coach Brian Barnes talks about the success of the first Coaches vs. Cancer Clinic
Brian Barnes joined the University of Notre Dame as head of the women's swimming and diving program in August 2008 after serving as an assistant coach at Auburn since 2005.
"It's an absolute honor to be here at Notre Dame," Barnes said at his hiring. "My coaching career has now gone full circle, beginning as a club coach for 10-year-olds and practicing at (Notre Dame's) Rolfs Aquatic Center to being the head coach here." "This school is one of the finest academic institutions in the world, and I certainly believe that you also can have high levels of success here at Notre Dame in women's swimming and diving."
During his time with the Irish, Barnes has continued the program's winning ways as evidenced by a strong 2011-12 season in which two student-athletes earned All-America honors, 10 received all-BIG EAST accolades and eight earned a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Highlighting the season were sophomore Kelly Ryan and freshman Emma Reaney. Ryan received seven all-BIG EAST scrolls, won four events (two individual and two relay), was named an All-American in the 200 back and swam three events at the Olympic Trials, while Reaney earned all-BIG EAST honors in seven events, won four BIG EAST championships (two individual and two relay), was named an honorable mention All-American in three events (100 and 200 breast, 200 IM) and competed in four events at the Olympic Trials, including a semifinal appearance in the 200 IM. Reaney also earned a spot in Sports Illustrated's Faces In The Crowd for the Jan. 16th edition and earned BIG EAST Swimmer of the Week three times.
Diver Jenny Chiang also turned in an impressive year as she won the BIG EAST 3-meter crown for the third year in a row and advanced to the NCAA Championships in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, finishing 17th in the 1-meter, just one spot away from earning All-America honors.
Overall the team earned 33 all-BIG EAST scrolls and seven titles (five individual, two relays) among 10 student-athletes on their way to a second place finish for the second year in a row.
Three school records fell in 2012 including the 200 back (Ryan), 200 IM (Reaney) and 400 freestyle relay (Ryan, Prestinario, Bessire, Reaney).
In his first two years with the Irish, Barnes helped secure the 14th and 15th consecutive BIG EAST titles in 2009 and 2010. The streak is the longest in BIG EAST history regardless of sport. For his efforts, he earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year both seasons.
During those campaigns, the program brought home 18 championships (five relay and 13 individual) 13 second-place finishes (two relay and 11 individual) and nine third-place finishes (two relay and seven individual). All totaled, Irish student-athletes claimed 67 All-BIG EAST awards in 2009 and 2010.
During that time span, junior diver Natalie Stitt earned BIG EAST Most Outstanding Diver accolades in 2009 after winning the one and three-meter dives, while junior Samantha Maxwell claimed BIG EAST Most Outstanding Swimmer honors in 2010 after having a hand in four titles (100 and 200 breast, 200 and 400 medley relay).
Barnes also coached a pair of All-Americans in Maxwell and Amywren Miller.
Maxwell earned All-America honors in the 100 breast and honorable mention in the 200 breast as a sophomore in 2009 and honorable mention in the 100 breast as a junior in 2010. Miller received All-America accolades as a junior in 2010 in the 50 free. Stitt advanced to nationals in 2009 in the one-meter dive.
Six swimmers participated in the 2009 World Championship Trials.
Despite claiming second at the 2011 BIG EAST Championships, thus ending Notre Dame's dominant streak, the Irish racked up the accolades, winning seven titles, two relay and five individual, and earning 29 All-BIG EAST scrolls.
Maxwell returned to the NCAA Championships in 2011, and was joined by sophomore Kim Holden, who competed in three events.
During the summer of 2011, five Notre Dame swimmers, including incoming freshman Bridget Casey, competed at the ConocoPhillips National Championships. For her efforts in the 200 fly, Casey earned a spot on the USA Swimming National Junior Team.
A summary of accolades involving the Notre Dame women's swimming and diving during Barnes' tenure include three All-Americans, five honorable mention All-Americans, eight NCAA qualifiers among six athletes in 21 events, two BIG EAST team titles, 32 BIG EAST combined relay and individual titles, 129 All-BIG EAST honors, two BIG EAST Coach of the Year awards, one BIG EAST Most Outstanding Swimmer award and one BIG EAST Most Outstanding Diver award.
The Irish currently own six BIG EAST meet records (100 back, 100 and 200 breast, 200 IM, 400 medley relay and three-meter dive) that were set during Barnes tenure. Sixteen of the 21 school records have fallen during Barnes time with the program.
In addition to stellar performance in the pool, the Irish program has enjoyed their top four semesters of highest team grade point average under Barnes guidance.
In 2011, Barnes created and ran the first annual Coaches vs. Cancer Fighting Irish Swim Clinic. The clinic saw almost 100 kids age 8-18 participate and raised more than $5,000 towards the local RiverBend Cancer Services and the American Cancer Society.
Barnes and the rest of the Irish swimming and diving team topped their performance in 2012, raising over $20,000 with the help of Olympic gold medalist Tyler McGill, who coached at the meet, and a $10,000 donation from Notre Dame football head coach Bryan Kelly's foundation Kelly Cares.
Before coming to Notre Dame, the Osceola, Ind., native helped guide both the Auburn men's and women's swimming teams to NCAA Championships in 2006 and 2007. The men won the Southeastern Conference meet three times from 2006-08, while the women picked up a pair of league titles during that span. In 2008, Auburn's men placed fifth at the NCAA meet, with the women posting a runner-up performance.
Overall, Barnes helped mentor 291 All-Americans in his three years as an assistant, including 11 individual and six relay titles between the two teams. In the SEC, the women produced 15 individual titles and eight relay titles during Barnes three seasons, while the men had 12 individual and relay titles.
Barnes spent three seasons (2002-05) as the assistant men's swimming coach at his alma mater, Indiana University. He helped coach the 2005 Hoosiers to their highest finish at the NCAA Championships since 1991 and their first 10-win dual meet season since 1985. In 2005, Indiana garnered 29 All-America honors, the most since 1976, and finished second at the Big Ten Conference Championships. In 2004, the Hoosiers had five All-Americans and finished 17th at the NCAA Men's Championships. Overall, Barnes helped tutor 93 All-Americans and seven Big Ten champions while with the Hoosiers.
Barnes was a highly accomplished swimmer during his career at Indiana from 1992-95. He was a two-time All-American and a five-time honorable mention All-American. His school record in the 400 Individual Medley stood for more than 15 years from 1992 until 2007. A two-time team most valuable swimmer, he served as team captain during his senior campaign.
The two-time Indiana Swimming Male Swimmer of the Year (1989, 1995) was also a member of the USA Swimming National Team in 1989 and 1992. Barnes was a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 1992 and 1996.
A 1995 graduate of Indiana, Barnes earned a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and is a level-4 certified member of the American Swimming Coaches Association.
Following graduation, Barnes got into coaching with the local Michiana Marlins, a USA Swimming club team that practices in the Rolfs Aquatic Center on the campus of Notre Dame. He was the assistant coach for two seasons at the University of Kansas and the head coach of the Lawrence (Kan.) Aquahawks swim club from 1998-2002 before heading to his alma mater for three seasons.
Barnes, the father of Jack and Caroline, lives in South Bend.