March 19, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After months of training with one goal in mind, eight members of the University of Notre Dame women’s swimming team are set to compete for individual championships and All-America scrolls this weekend at the 2014 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by the University of Minnesota.
A nice blend of veterans and newcomers will invade Minneapolis for the Irish as third-year vets Kelly Ryan and Emma Reaney are joined by first-time NCAA qualifiers Suzanne Bessire, Courtney Whyte, Christen McDonough, Katie Miller and Catherine Mulquin. Spread out among six individual events and three relays, the Irish will have plenty of opportunities to make their presence known to the nation as they look to improve upon last year’s program-best 16th place finish.
I think our biggest asset this week is the positive energy this team is generating,” said McDonough. “It's so much fun having eight girls here. We've worked very well together this whole year, and I'm definitely expecting personal bests and very exciting relays.”
Leading the group is 2014 ACC Women’s Most Valuable Swimmer Emma Reaney, who is seeded in the top five in three individual events. The Lawrence, Kan., native will open her NCAAs with the 200 IM Thursday, before swimming the 100 breaststroke Friday and the 200 breaststroke Saturday.
Reaney enters the meet as the No. 5 seed in the 200 IM, No. 4 in the 100 breast and No. 1 in the 200 breast after she broke the American record in the event at the ACC Championships. The previous record holder, Breeja Larson, is a senior at Texas A&M and a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist. Larson is seeded second behind Reaney.
Elsewhere, fellow junior Bridget Casey will swim in the 200 fly and 400 IM, senior Christen McDonough will compete in both breaststroke events with Reaney and freshman Katie Miller will compete in both IM’s and the 200 backstroke.
Bessire, Mulquin, Ryan and Whyte will team with Reaney and Miller to form four-person relays in the 200 and 400 medley and the 800 free relays.
Reaney and Ryan have both had great success at the NCAA Championships, as the former is a two-time All-American and five-time honorable mention All-American and the latter is a one-time All-American and a two-time honorable mention All-American.
Mulquin, who qualified with the 200 and 400 medley relays at the ACC Championships has taken everything in and enjoyed the moment since arriving Tuesday morning in Minneapolis.
“It's so exciting to be here because we have had the chance to swim multiple times in the competition pool and see all the other teams,” said the Laytonsville, Md., native. “Having such a large group of teammates here is great. We've had so much fun going to get our nails done together, eating together and even dying our hair together! I expect that we are going to all do amazing as a team and continue to surprise everyone like we've been doing all year."
McDonough, meanwhile, is wrapping up her four-year career at a meet that she worked hard for four years to get to, but wasn’t sure that she would ever make.
“I'm thrilled to be here at NCAAs representing Notre Dame with my teammates,” said the Charlotte, N.C., product. “It's absolutely surreal. I never thought I would get the chance to compete at this level, and I can't imagine a better meet to end my swimming career on."
Notre Dame has qualified two or more individuals for NCAAs in every season since 1997, while the eight total competitors marks only the third time in school history (2002 and 2007) that the Irish have sent eight or more student-athletes to collegiate swimming’s marque event.
The three-day meet gets underway at 12 p.m. (ET) Thursday with prelims in six events. Finals are set for 8 p.m. (ET). The same format will be followed for Friday and Saturday.
Fans that will be making the trip to Minneapolis can expect to pay $65 for an all-sessions pass or $13/$16 (prelims/finals) for an individual session pass. Complete information on tickets, parking, hotels and directions can be found at the championship central link at the top of the page.
For those that can’t make the trek to The Gopher State, Minnesota and ESPN3 will stream every session of the meet. Minnesota will handle both Thursday sessions as well as prelims Friday and Saturday, while ESPN3 will stream the finals the last two nights. Live results will also be available throughout the competition.
Follow @NDwSwimming and @NDsidRuss on Twitter for updates throughout the meet.
2014 NCAA INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS
52. Katie Miller: 1:56.45%
34. Bridget Casey: 1:56.52*
* Automatic Qualifier
2014 NCAA RELAY QUALIFIERS
400 Medley Relay
Mulquin / Reaney / Whyte / Ryan: 3:33.93
800 Free Relay
Reaney / Ryan / Miller / Suzanne Bessire: 7:11.92
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director