January 22, 1999
by Ben Murphy
Notre Dame or Princeton? Any high school senior would like to be faced with the enviable dilemma of deciding which of these schools to attend. But for Notre Dame swimmer Brittany Kline, the decision was more difficult than usual.
“My sister went to Notre Dame, and my dad went to Princeton,” says Kline. “They both took me aside and said that if I didn’t chose their school that they wouldn’t be upset. Neither of them pushed me either way. Then after I made my decision, they both said that I did the right thing. I’m very happy I chose Notre Dame.” Notre Dame fans are inclined to agree with Kline, for in her first three years at Notre Dame she has been a solid and spectacular performer for the Irish. In high school, Kline was a four-time all-state and all-conference performer, earned All-American honors as a senior in the 100 breaststroke, and was Illinois Swimmer of the Year her senior season. When she first arrived at Notre Dame though, Kline wasn’t prepared as she thought she was for the rigors of collegiate swimming.
“I never practiced more than two hours a week in high school, and then I got here, and we were expected to do 3 1/2 hours of practice in one day,” says Kline. “It was a big change for me. It took me the entire freshman year to get up to speed. I feel like I’m finally getting totally adjusted my senior year.”
It certainly does not seem like Kline was still getting adjusted to collegiate competition during the previous three years, for her list of accomplishments is long and distinguished. During her freshman year, she was Notre Dame’s fastest swimmer in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and broke the Notre Dame record in the 100 breaststroke with her second-place finish at the 1996 BIG EAST championships with a time of 1:04.5. Kline was also a member of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams which set Notre Dame records at the BIG EAST championships.
There was no slowing down for Kline in her sophomore season as she finished third in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 breaststroke at the 1997 BIG EAST championships. Kline was also named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) honorable mention Academic All-American.
Kline’s junior year topped her two previous years’ performances as she competed in the 1998 NCAA championships. There she finished 25th in the 100 breaststroke and was part of the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays which placed 19th and 20th, respectively. Kline’s trip to the NCAA championships fulfilled a goal which she had set during her freshman year. Kline also earned CSCAA Academic All-American honors during her junior year.
“My goal was to make NCAA’s,” says Kline. “I really started to bear down during my junior year, and I told myself that I was going to do it, and I did.”
This season looks to be no different from Kline’s previously successful seasons as she is again primed to qualify for and compete in the NCAA championships. Women’s swimming and diving head coach Bailey Weathers has high hopes for Kline this year.
“From my perspective, Brittany is training better than she’s ever trained before,” says Weathers. “She’s faster in practice, and I really anticipate that she’ll be better than she was last year.” Kline has also set her sights higher this year as she looks to finish in the top 16 in her events at the NCAA championships, which would give the Irish some points at the championships. “I saw what it took to place last year, and I realized that I wasn’t that far away,” says Kline. “I finished 25th last year, and you only need to make the top 16 to earn points, so it’s not that big of a difference.”
In Kline’s viewpoint, the women’s swimming and diving team will again be successful this year.
“One of our top goals is to win the BIG EAST championship for the third year in a row,” says Kline. “It’s going to be really tough this year though. We also want to qualify a lot more people for the NCAA championships this year, so that we can score some points and be among the top teams in the nation.”
In the future, Kline, a management information systems major and a member of Notre Dame’s Academic Honors program which matches top achieving student-athletes with faculty mentors, will begin working in Chicago for Ernst & Young starting in September.
“I’ll be doing consulting with computers,” says Kline. “I love my major, so I’m just going to go into that field and see if I enjoy it. Eventually I’ll probably move on, but I like what I’m doing, so I’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Regardless of what Kline does in the future, one thing is for certain; she will be sorely missed at Notre Dame. “As a person, there’s no one on the team that does not enjoy Brittany,” says Weathers. “I really cherish the time that I’ve been able to spend with her. She’s a wonderful kid.”