Oct. 12, 2013
The 2012-13 season was an exciting and historic one for the University of Notre Dame women's swimming and diving team as they set records in the pool and had a senior shine out of it under head coach Brian Barnes.
After closing out their time in the BIG EAST with a second-place finish, the Irish stormed into the NCAA Championships with six competitors and emerged with a program-best 16th place finish by totaling 55 points, the second-best total in school history.
Just some of the highlights included:
Junior Emma Reaney cemented her place in the Irish history books by claiming BIG EAST Most Outstanding Swimmer honors before earning two first team All-America trophies in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and two honorable mention All-America certificates in the 200 IM and the 400 medley relay during her sophomore campaign.
Graduate Kim Holden closed out her career with 11 BIG EAST championships, 22 all-BIG EAST citations and two honorable mention All-America scrolls in the 200 backstroke and 400 medley relay in the pool before earning a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and a BIG EAST postgraduate scholarship for her outstanding efforts in the classroom.
Fellow graduate Jenny Chiang completed a career sweep in the 3-meter dive at the BIG EAST meet before earning honorable mention All-America honors in the event at the NCAA Championships.
In addition, senior Kelly Ryan, junior Bridget Casey and sophomore Catherine Galletti also appeared at the NCAA Championships, with Ryan earning honorable mention All-America honors in the 200 back and 400 medley relay and Galletti securing honorable mention All-America accolades with her relay teammates.
Despite the historic year for the program, Barnes, now in his sixth year with the Irish, has even higher goals for his squad.
"We definitely aren't satisfied with finishing 16th," Barnes said with a chuckle. "We are constantly trying to get better in all areas and we aren't settling for anything we have done in past years ... at the ACC meet I expect us to show up prepared and ready to compete against some great teams."
The new season started for the program over the summer as five current student-athletes competed at national meets. Reaney, Ryan and Casey qualified for the Phillips 66 Championships, which served as the World Championship Trials, while Reaney, Ryan, Melissa Scott and incoming freshman Catherine Mulquin swam at the U.S. Open. Reaney turned in standout performances at both meets, swimming in a pair of B finals at the World Championship Trials before turning in three top-five performances at the U.S. Open to lock up a spot on the 2013-14 U.S. National Team. Mulquin also shined at the U.S. Open, finishing 13th in the 100 back.
"I expect Kelly and Emma to lead the team with their experience as they are both positioning themselves to be All-Americans again," said Barnes. "It's easy for Emma to stay motivated when she has goals that go beyond the NCAA meet. If she trains with these higher goals in mind, it will only help her when the time comes to race at the ACC and NCAA meets."
After returning to school in August, the Irish have hit the pool hard as they train for the upcoming season and a new league. The ACC, like in many sports, is an upgrade from the BIG EAST as seven schools scored points at last year's NCAA Championships, led by North Carolina's 12th place showing.
"It's a strong conference for us particularly at the top end," said Barnes. "Virginia and North Carolina are perennially in the top 10 or top 15 at the national level. The conference is also coached very well. We are excited to join a larger conference with a deeper league meet and I think it can only help Notre Dame."
A strong freestyle group is led by Galletti, Ryan and Reaney, who all swam legs of the 400 free relay that placed 24th at the NCAA Championships. In addition to those three, junior Suzanne Bessire is looking to have a breakout junior year after winning BIG EAST titles as part of relay teams in each of her first two years in addition to a third place showing in the 200 free as a freshman.
Junior Hannah Bowen is back after missing her sophomore year with an injury and is ready to compete in the sprint freestyle events with senior Mikelle Masciantonio, while Erin Foley returns for her third campaign to swim the distance freestyle events with Casey.
In addition to Reaney, who has turned in multiple world-class swims since the end of last season, veterans Christen McDonough and Lauren Stauder give the Irish some seasoned talent in the breaststroke. Reaney, who owns both school breaststroke records, is on the 2013-14 National Team in the two events. McDonough ended the 2012-13 season by placing third in the 100 breast at the BIG EAST Championships, while Stauder placed in the top nine in both the 100 and 200 distances. Sophomore Genevieve Bradford also has conference meet experience as she took 13th in both races last season.
Sophomore Sydney Golic and freshman Danielle Margheret will have plenty of opportunities to improve throughout the course of the season, with Golic already boasting conference meet experience.
Ryan, who has earned All-America accolades (one first team and one honorable mention citation) in two trips to the NCAAs in the 200 backstroke, leads the group as she looks to once again secure All-America honors in her final campaign with the Irish.
"Kelly will be dialed in this year in her final season," said Barnes. "She has a ton of experience at the NCAA and national level and we expect her to be a leader for us."
Behind Ryan is the freshman Mulquin, who had the already-mentioned 13th place finish in the 100 back, as well as Galletti, Golic, Masciantonio and freshman Anna Grainger.
The fly is a deep position for the Irish as veterans Casey, Scott, Galletti, senior Sarah Dotzel, junior Courtney Whyte and sophomore Genevieve Heidkamp all boast BIG EAST meet experience. Last year, Casey finished second in the 200 fly to earn all-BIG EAST honors before advancing to the NCAA Championships, while Whyte took sixth in both the 100 and 200, Scott placed seventh in the 200 and Dotzel claimed 11th in the 100 at the BIG EAST Championships.
Besides Reaney, who holds both school records in the 200 and 400 IM and is a two-time honorable mention All-American in the 200, Scott and Masciantonio have IM experience. Also expected to provide a boost in the event is freshman Katelyn Miller, who Barnes tabbed as a strong IMer with good ability in the 200 fly, back and free among other events.
Despite losing Chiang, diving should be a strong point for the Irish as they return three diving standouts. Leading the charge is junior Allison Casareto, who won the 1-meter discipline at last year's BIG EAST meet and has three all-BIG EAST scrolls in two years.
Also returning are the previously mentioned Streepey and Gaboury, who put in yeoman's work at last year's BIG EAST meet by finishing in the top eight in all three diving disciplines. Highlighting their meet was a third place finish off the platform for Streepey to earn all-BIG EAST honors. Joining the diving fold this year is freshman Christine Stitcher.
A challenging schedule welcomes the Irish to the ACC as the squad will compete against 12 teams that finished in the top 40 at the 2013 NCAA Championships, including dual meets with seven of those squads. Four of those teams will make at least one appearance at Rolfs Aquatic Center this season.
"Our schedule this year appears to be very rigorous and offer great competition from several different conferences," said Barnes. "The coaching staff always tries to schedule a tough slate for the program because we feel like the team learns a lot about competing by going against challenging competition on a weekly basis."
After opening with the 49th version of the Dennis Stark Relays, where they will compete against national powers Auburn and Indiana in addition to Illinois State, Cleveland State, Oakland and Valparaiso (Oct. 11), the Irish will play host to the Tigers and Hoosiers in a tri-meet the following day (Oct. 12). Auburn (13th) and Indiana (11th) finished just ahead of Notre Dame (16th) last season at NCAAs.
"Our opening weekend is a great way to kick off the season," said Barnes. "The Dennis Stark Relays are always a fun event and are one of our program's best traditions. The next day we jump right into some very stiff competition with Auburn and Indiana. Both days will be a great way to get the 2013-14 season going."
The month of November will see the Irish compete in three dual meets and one tri-meet. November 1 Notre Dame heads to West Lafayette, Ind., to battle Purdue. The Boilermakers finished 19th at the NCAA meet last year.
A week later the Irish travel to Pittsburgh for a tri-meet with ACC foes Pitt and Virginia Tech Nov. 9. The Hokies tied for 24th last year at NCAAs.
Notre Dame closes out November with a pair of dual meets at Rolfs Aquatic Center against Michigan State (Nov. 15) and Wisconsin (Nov. 16). The Spartans took 36th last year at the NCAA meet, while the Badgers were one spot ahead of the Irish at 15th.
The Irish close out the fall portion of its schedule December 6-8, as the team will head to Iowa City, Iowa for the three-day Hawkeye Invitational. Last year the meet saw a ranked Michigan squad and a handful of other Big Ten squads compete in one of the final national meets before Christmas.
In a yearly tradition of getting away from the winter weather of South Bend, the Irish will make their way south as the swimming team heads to Nassau, Bahamas while the diving team ventures to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The week will primarily be a training trip, but the swimming team will compete against Truman State, while the diving squad will participate in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America 2014 Forum.
Back in the Midwest, Notre Dame gets back to dual-meet action Jan. 11 when it heads to Evanston, Ill., to compete against Northwestern and Michigan. The Wolverines placed 36th at last season's NCAA Championships.
The following week the Irish are back home to play host to long-time rival Louisville (Jan. 18). Despite falling to the Cardinals at the BIG EAST Championships, the Irish (No. 16) bested Louisville (No. 22) at the NCAA meet by six spots.
Heading into February, the Irish close out the 2013-14 home season with the annual Shamrock Invitational (Jan. 31-Feb. 1) and a dual meet against Cleveland State (Feb. 8).
A first for the program takes place Feb. 19-22 as Notre Dame heads to Greensboro, N.C., for the Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. There the Irish will compete against six teams that finished in the top 40 of last year's NCAA Championships - North Carolina (No. 12), Virginia (No. 18), Miami (No. 20), Virginia Tech (T-No. 24), Florida State (No. 32) and N.C. State (T-No. 37).
"This year's ACC meet will be a learning experience for everyone as we get familiar with a new league," said Barnes. "The meet will offer a much deeper field than in previous years and we are excited to compete against so many teams that joined us at NCAAs last year."
Following the ACC meet, the Irish look nationally as the divers compete in the NCAA Zone C qualifying meet (March 13-15) before all swimming and diving qualifiers head to Minneapolis, Minn., for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships (March 20-22).
-- Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director