March 19, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – This is it for three University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving standouts. Seniors Allison Casareto, Emma Reaney and Courtney Whyte came to Notre Dame four years ago together and they will leave together, but not before one last meet. The terrific trio is in Greensboro, North Carolina this weekend for the 2015 NCAA Championships, where they will represent the Irish program in eight individual events.
Casareto will dive off the 1- and 3-meter boards, Reaney will swim her traditional 200 IM and 100 and 200 breaststroke events, while Whyte will compete in the 100 and 200 fly and the 100 back.
For the group, being together at the last collegiate meet of the year and the last meet of their Irish careers, couldn’t be more special.
“More than anything it is satisfying to have Court and Al here with me,” said Reaney. “This meet wouldn’t be nearly as special if I were alone, and I can’t think of a better way to go out than to have two other seniors by my side. We’ve been through a lot these last four years, but we got through it together and I think us three being the last ones standing this year is sort of symbolic of that in a way.
“It’s always so special getting to see the interlocking ND on deck at these meets and getting to be a part of it, so the more of them we can get here, the better.”
The Lawrence, Kansas native is competing at her fourth NCAA Championships, and is just the eighth student-athlete in program history – and first since Samantha Maxwell (2008-11) – to accomplish that feat.
“I actually didn’t know those stats,” said Reaney about her place in the program record books. “This meet is always so fun and a lot more intimate than other collegiate meets, so it’s easy to get excited for. Nothing has really sunken in yet about my career here. I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’m just so completely honored that I got to be at this meet all four years and do it representing my favorite place in the world.”
Reaney, the American record holder and the defending national champion in the 200 breast (2:04.06), enters the meet seeded fourth (2:07.69) after finishing second in the event at the ACC Championships to Virginia’s Laura Simon, who is seeded second overall.
“We got right back to work after ACCs,” said Reaney. “I did a kind of pattern where I would go hard one day, including weights, then rest a day. We did some sets in fast suits and also tried to get the A cut in the 200 medley relay at a last chance meet, so that was a workout in itself. The last couple weeks have been very productive.”
A five-time All-American and five-time honorable mention All-American, Reaney is seeded 12th in the 200 IM (1:56.48) and fifth in the 100 breast (58.72) in addition to her spot in the 200 breast. She is a reigning first team All-American in all three events.
On the boards, Casareto is getting set for her first NCAA Championships after knocking on the door in each of her first three years. She qualified in both events just last week at the NCAA Zone C meet.
“I do not think it will sink in until I arrive and start warming up on the boards without my teammates,” said Casareto on if it had sunk in that she will compete at NCAAs. “It is the ultimate high note. To know that committing to Notre Dame four years ago and training with Caiming (Xie) would bring me to compete in the NCAA championship, is an absolute dream come true.
“My only real goals and expectations are to genuinely try to appreciate and enjoy each dive I perform as they are proof of all the hard work over all the years I have put in to becoming the diver I am today. Truly enjoying the sport and celebrating how far I have come through each of the twelve different dives I compete is what I plan for this week.”
For Casareto, the journey to the NCAA Championships wouldn’t have been possible without diving coach Caiming Xie, a 20-year veteran at Notre Dame.
“Caiming is very technically sound,” she said. “To connect with him in such a way where I understand and am able to change and alter my technique is a major part of our coach and athlete relationship. Without him I would not be the diver I am today.”
“This also extends to my strength coaches and nutritionists. The biggest contributor to my continual improvement throughout my career at Notre Dame is the endless support I have from my family, but especially my fellow teammates. They are the ones who see my worst practices and my best practices and still cheer me on through the very end of every season. I could not ask for a better experience with the teammates I was so blessed to have in my Irish diving career.”
Meanwhile, Whyte didn’t find out she would participate in her second consecutive NCAA Championships until Monday of this week after she left the ACC Championships as the second alternate for the NCAA meet.
Not knowing if she would be able to go to NCAAs or not, Whyte continued to train like she was going to the national meet while playing the waiting game.
“It wasn’t easy, especially being a senior and not knowing when my last swim would be,” said Whyte.”But, that being said I knew there was a definite possibility that I would make it into the meet.Last year the second alternate was able to compete and with Georgia needing to scratch one swimmer, I knew I had to keep training.For the past five or six years it’s been my goal to qualify for NCAAs individually so training a few extra weeks was well worth it.
“It’s a dream come true. Since freshman year it’s been my goal to qualify for NCAAs and to be able to say I did that twice is quite the honor. I couldn’t have asked for a better collegiate swimming career, and especially a better last swim meet with two other seniors.
Now a veteran of the NCAA meet after competing in two relay events last year, Whyte feels much more prepared than she did a year ago.
“I definitely think I will be more prepared than last year,” said the Lafayette, California native.”Last year I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I had never competed at such a high level in my swimming career.Things will be different this year.I’m going into the meet with a lot more confidence not only because I’ve swam at NCAAs before but also because I’m a senior. I know what to expect and I can’t wait to see how things turn out for the three of us representing ND!”
Whyte is seeded 54th in the 100 fly (53.49) and 100 back (54.76) and 40th in the 200 fly (1:56.97).
Action gets underway Thursday morning, as Reaney will swim in the prelims of the 200 IM, while Casareto will begin her meet with the 1-meter dive prelims.
Whyte joins her teammates in action Friday, as she will swim the 100 fly and 100 back prelims. Reaney will begin the first of two breaststroke distances (100 breast), while Casareto will wrap up her meet with the 3-meter.
Whyte (200 fly) and Reaney (200 breast) wrap up their final collegiate meet Saturday with one of their speciality events.
Fans can follow the NCAA meet in a number of different ways. A live video stream is available for every session, with Friday night and Saturday night broadcast live online through ESPN3. Live results are also available. Links for everything associated with the NCAA meet are located at the top of this preview.
Follow @NDwSwimming on Twitter and Instagram for meet updates.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director