Freshman Emma Reaney heads to her first BIG EAST meet with high expectations.

Irish Head To Pittsburgh Looking For 15th BIG EAST Crown

Feb. 9, 2012


NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Looking for its 15th BIG EAST Conference title in 17 years as a league member, Notre Dame heads to Pittsburgh, Pa., over the coming weeks to compete in the 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

Playing host to the championships is the University of Pittsburgh, with all action occurring at Trees Pool.

The one-week meet gets underway Friday with the diving portion of the championships. Two-time BIG EAST 3-meter champion and Irish junior Jenny Chiang looks to defend her title as the action begins at 12 p.m. (ET). The women’s 1-meter dive takes place on Friday, with a platform exhibition at noon on Sunday.

The swimming portion of the championship begins next Wednesday and runs through Saturday evening.

Irish fans interested in attending the championships are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets through Notre Dame or the University of Pittsburgh, as past events have sold out with no walk-up tickets available. Ticket information as well as other important meet information can be found on the meet central page at or on

The BIG EAST Conference is also streaming the meet live. The stream can be found here.

“We are excited for the BIG EAST meet this year,” said assistant coach Kate Kovenock. “We have a close-knit team that has trained very hard this year. I expect us to go out and perform very well and we’ll see where we are at on Saturday night.”

Last season Notre Dame (6-6) finished second behind Louisville in its home facility, ending its BIG EAST record streak of 14 consecutive titles. The Irish didn’t go down without a fight as five individual and two relay titles were claimed by student-athletes wearing the blue and gold.

Returning from last year’s team are three individual champions and four members of relay championships. Leading the charge is junior Kim Holden and sophomore Kelly Ryan. Holden, a seven-time BIG EAST champion, won the 100 and 200 back and was a member of the 400 medley relay team that won gold. Ryan won four BIG EAST titles as a freshman, claiming the 100 and 200 free titles and swimming legs on the 400 medley and free relay teams.

Ryan goes into the championships with the top times in the 50 free (23.17), 100 free (49.62), 100 back (53.60) and 200 back (1:55.66).

Also returning are 400 free relay champions and co-captains Amy Prestinario and Lauren Scott.

Looking to score major points in their first BIG EAST meet are four freshmen, Allison Casareto, Emma Reaney, Bridget Casey and Suzanne Bessire.

Casareto has impressed during her first year on the boards, winning three events and placing in the top-three 12 times.

Reaney has starred in the pool for the Irish this season, earning three BIG EAST Women’s Swimming and Diving Athlete of the awards, which is a new conference record for most honors in a season. She is 11-1 in IM events, and set a new school record in the 200 IM with a time of 1:57.67, which is also the top time in the league this season.

Casey has won four 200 fly titles this season, while Bessire has the top time in the league in the 200 free (1:49.05).

Notre Dame relay teams lead the conference in the 400 free relay (3:20.93) and the 400 medley relay (3:39.59).

In all, Notre Dame has won 121 titles at the BIG EAST Championships since joining the conference in 1996. Notre Dame finished third in the league meet that first year and then reeled off 14 victories in a row before placing second last season.

Fans that can’t attend the meet can follow via live results, with a link included on the BIG EAST meet central page. A full recap of each day will be available on following each day’s competition.