Feb. 17, 2012
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Six Notre Dame women's swimmers qualified for seven Friday night finals as the morning session of day three at the BIG EAST Women's Swimming Championships wrapped up at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Leading the way for the second day in a row was freshman Emma Reaney, who qualified first in the 100 breaststroke. Her time of 59.83 was not only a season best, but made her only the second Irish women's swimmer to go under the minute mark. The other was former Irish great Samantha Maxwell, who went 59.73 and 59.44, at the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 59.64 at the BIG EAST Championships in 2010. Reaney's time is just .39 off the school record held by Maxwell and is also just .19 off the meet and pool record that Maxwell set in 2010.
Junior Kim Holden turned in a strong morning swim, qualifying third in the 100 backstroke (54.80) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (54.34). Holden is the two-time defending BIG EAST champion in the 100 back.
Sophomore Kelly Ryan is well on her way to defending her 200 freestyle crown as she qualified second for the finals with a time of 1:47.61. Her time is .25 off the top qualifying spot. Last year she won the title in 1:46.88.
Also qualifying for Friday night finals were freshmen Bridget Casey (400 IM) and Suzanne Bessire (200 free) and sophomore Sarah Dotzel (100 fly).
Another six individuals qualified for eight consolation finals on Friday morning. These include junior Gracie Fredlake (400 IM), freshman Melissa Scott (400 IM, 100 fly), junior Lauren Scott (100 fly), freshman Courtney Whyte (100 fly, 100 back), sophomore Lauren Stauder (100 breast) and sophomore Christen McDonough (100 breast).
Friday night's events get underway at 6 p.m. with the consolation finals of the women's 400 IM. As a reminder to fans, a live stream of the entire meet can be found at BIGEAST.org.
400 IM: Casey got the Irish off to a good start in the morning prelims as she qualified sixth in the 400 IM in a season-best time of 4:21.45. Qualifying for the consolation finals were Fredlake (4:25.55) and M. Scott (4:26.04), who finished 13th and 14th, respectively.
100 Fly: Showing continued improvement after missing much of the year after offseason shoulder surgery, Holden cruised into the finals with a fourth place finish, swimming a season-best 54.34. Also qualifying for the finals was Dotzel, who also turned in a season best of 54.75 to qualify seventh.
A trio of Irish swimmers qualified for the consolation finals, including L. Scott (13th, 55.92), Whyte (14th, 56.00) and M. Scott (16th, 56.03). All three times were season bests.
200 Free: Ryan turned in an impressive swim in the prelims of the 200 free to qualify second, just .35 behind West Virginia's Rachael Burnett. The reigning champion in the event, Ryan went 1:47.61 for a new season best. Also qualifying for the finals was Bessire, who touched the pad in a season-best time of 1:48.93.
100 Breast: Reaney continued her strong meet, qualifying first in the 100 breast in a season-best time of 59.83. The mark was over a second faster than her closest competitor. Two Notre Dame swimmers qualified for the consolation finals in the event as Stauder (11th, 1:03.13) and McDonough (12th, 1:03.37) finished within .24 seconds of each other.
100 Back: Holden qualified for her second event of the morning as she took third in the 100 back. The two-time defending champion turned in a season-best time of 54.80. Whyte qualified for her second consolation final of the day, swimming a season-best time of 56.07 to place 11th.