Oct. 12, 2013
By Andrew Bartolini
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team opened the 2013-14 season with the 49th annual Dennis Stark Relays looking to build on a highly successful 2012-13 campaign that saw the Irish finish 16th at the NCAA Championships.
The 49th edition of the meet featured an elite field as Notre Dame hosted Auburn University and Indiana University, both of whom finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Championships last year, along with Illinois State University, Cleveland State University and Valparaiso University. The Irish collected a number of impressive swims during the contest and finished in second place overall with 162 points behind only Auburn University (194 points).
The Irish laid a solid framework to build upon early in the season, which caught the eye of junior Melissa Scott.
“I think [the meet] went really well and everybody swam faster than I was expecting,” said Scott. “We [swam] a lot of good times tonight and set a solid baseline. This is a great starting point for the season and we have set the bar high.”
The Irish claimed victory in four events on the evening, with the first coming in the 800 free relay. Freshman Katelyn Miller shined in her first meet, splitting a 1:51.11 to catch Indiana’s Dorina Szekeres on the final lap of the event. Later in the slate of events, Emma Reaney, a member of the 2013-14 U.S. National Team, gave the Irish a commanding lead in the 300 breaststroke relay with her lead-off time of 1:01.77. Freshman Danielle Margheret and senior Christen McDonough held the lead for the Irish to collet the second gold medal of the evening. Notre Dame went on to sweep the diving events as the duo of Allison Casareto and Lindsey Streepy won the 1-meter diving relay while Streepy later paired with Emma Gaboury to take the gold in the 3-meter synchronized diving event. Notre Dame also registered three second-place finishes on the evening.
Brian Barnes, the head coach of the women’s swim team, was impressed with the first-meet performance.
“I am enthused about this team,” said Barnes. “I was proud of the group that won the 800 free relay, which I think was the hardest relay of the day and I am also proud of the comprehensive effort. This team is tough. We’ve been talking about our attitude and what we think hard is. I thought our skills were better today than a typical first meet of the year. Moving forward I am pretty excited about this team.”
On Saturday the Irish head back to the Rolfs Aquatic Center to take on Indiana and Auburn in a tri-meet, which should provide more insight into where the Irish are as the season begins. Barnes explained that the quick turn-around from an evening meet to an early start the following day results in an equal playing field for all the teams.
While the Irish will learn more about the make-up of this year’s squad on Saturday, Barnes can already tell this Irish team is on the path for success.
“I like our energy and our preparation,” emphasized Barnes. “We are setting the table for a nice season.”
200 Free Relay: Freshman Catherine Mulguin led off for the Irish, claiming an early third place for Notre Dame ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ senior Kelly Ryan pulled the Irish into second place on the third leg and Hannah Bowen held on for the Irish to take second in the event (1:33.96) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Auburn University won the event with a time of 1:31.24, which was a pool record.
400 Medley Relay: The foursome of Mulguin, Danielle Margheret, Courtney Whyte, and Genevieve Bradford finished in third place with a 3:50.74 showing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Whyte propelled the Irish into third place on the butterfly leg of the event.
800 Free Relay: Freshman Katie Miller stole the show as she pulled ahead of Dorina Szekeres of Indiana University on the final 50 yards to win the event for Notre Dame in 7:24.98 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the relay consisted of Ryan, Emma Reaney, Suzanne Bessire, and Miller.
400 Individual Medley Relay: After a close race for first place with Auburn, the Irish squad of Reaney, Miller, Bessire and Bradford finished in second a time of 3:54.29.
300 Backstroke Relay: The team of Ryan, Anna Grainger, and Whyte finished in third place with a 2:52.11 performance ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Whyte used the final length to pull the Irish in to third place.
300 Breaststroke Relay: Emma Reaney sprinted out to the early lead, giving the Irish nearly a body length advantage on the field ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Margheret and McDonough were able to hold off the Indiana and Auburn swimmers to take the event in 3:13.18.
1,000 Free Relay – Foley battled with Cleveland State’s Jodi Turk and Illinois State’s Valerie Jones for third during the first 500 yards ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Miller secured the third-place finish and touched the pad in a time of 10:15.47.
200 Medley Relay: Sarah Dotzel paced the Irish with a backstroke split of 27.42, which was good for second place after the first 50 yards ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Danielle Margheret swam the breaststroke leg for Notre Dame and made up ground for the Irish but the squad was unable to pull ahead of the Tigers, finishing in second place (1:44.44).
400 Free Relay: After battling back and forth with Indiana for second place, the Irish relay of Ryan, Bradford, Mulquin, and Bessire finished in a close third place with a 3:31.00 showing.
3-meter Synchronized Diving: Streepey teamed with Emma Gaboury to sweep the diving events for the Irish with a total of 234.15 points after five rounds of dives.