PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, February 18. THE BIG EAST Swimming action concluded Saturday night at Trees Pool at the University of Pittsburgh with the Notre Dame men and the Louisville women taking home the crowns. The Irish led all men’s teams with 887 points while the Cardinals dominated the women’s standings with 758.5 points.
In addition to the competition, the BIG EAST announced the 2012 championship major award winners. Vic Riggs from West Virginia was named the 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year while Notre Dame’s Tim Welsh took home the 2012 BIG EAST Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year award. The 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer was Rachael Burnett from West Virginia. The 2012 BIG EAST Men’s Most Outstanding Swimmer was William Bass from Notre Dame. The Conference also recognized one its 2012 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Men’s Scholar-Athletes of the Year, Pierre-Antoine Meunier of Pittsburgh.
The evening’s swimming action kicked off with the 1,650-yard freestyle event. Junior Rachael Burnett of West Virginia captured the women’s title, touching the wall in 16:13.94, a new BIG EAST Championship record. Burnett beat the 10-year-old record of 16:15.07 set in 2002. A duo of Villanova juniors finished second and third to round out the top-three competitors. Hayley Edwards finished with a time of 16:20.09 for the silver medal and Roxanne Tammadge took the bronze with 16:28.28
In the men’s competition, Notre Dame freshman Brennan Jacobsen staged a dramatic come-from-behind victory, going from sixth place to first place to finish in a time of 15:16.77. Teammate and classmate Kevin Hughes earned second place with a time of 15:17.53 and Louisville senior Riley Martin came in third with a time of 15:22.64.
In the women’s 200-backstroke, Notre Dame sophomore Kelly Ryan took first place honors with a time of 1:55.56, a new Trees Pool Record. Ryan beat the old record of 1:55.79 set in 2010. Touching second was UofL freshman Victoria Mitchell in a time of 1:56.81. WVU sophomore Danielle Smith finished in 1:57.42, earning third place.
Louisville senior Pedro Oliveira jumped out to an early lead in the men’s 200 back and held on for the win with a time of 1:44.23. Pittsburgh junior Adam Maczewski surged ahead in the last 50 yards to take second in 1:45.63. Sophomore Juan Lopez of the Cardinals finished in third with a time of 1:45.99.
Notre Dame women took the first two podium positions in the 100 freestyle. Sophomore Kelly Ryan finished the race in first place with a time of 49.38. Senior Amy Prestinario, also of Notre Dame, took second in 50.12 and Louisville junior Grite Apanaviciute swam a 50.27 for third place.
The men’s 100 freestyle was a dramatic photo finish as the top three competitors finished within a second of each other. UofL took first and second place with sophomore Joao De Lucca touching first with a time of 42.95. Senior Brendon Andrews claimed second place with a time of 43.16. The third place finish went to Notre Dame sophomore Frank Dyer with a time of 43.22.
Sophomore Gisselle Kohoyda of Louisville continued to break records this evening when she finished the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:07.69. The time breaks the record of 2:09.02 that she set in the preliminary stages this morning, as well as qualifies her for an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Finishing second in the race was Notre Dame freshman Emma Reaney who touched in a time of 2:11.42, narrowly edging Louisville senior Fanny Lilliestrom who completed the event in a time of 2:11.50.
Senior Carlos Almeida of Louisville wrapped up a four-peat in the 200 breaststroke, winning the event every year he has competed in the championship. He finished the race with a time of 1:55.52. Cardinal sophomore Kameron Chastain finished second, coming in at 1:57.37. Freshman Zachary Stephens of Notre Dame raced to a time of 1:57.44, earning third place.
In the women’s 200 butterfly, two-time defending champion Amanda Nugent of West Virginia outraced the competition to claim her third title. The junior finished in a time of 1:54.43, setting new Trees Pool and BIG EAST Championship records, and giving her an NCAA “A” cut and an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Nugent broke her own pool record set in 2011 and broke the Championship record of 1:57.23 set by Louisville’s Tanja Kylliainen in the preliminary round this morning. Kylliainen finished in second place with a time of 1:55.22 and Villanova junior Hayley Edwards came in third with a time of 1:58.14.
It was a race to the finish in the men’s 200 butterfly where Notre Dame freshman Jonathan Williamson took the lead with a time of 1:44.74. The mark sets a new Trees Pool record, beating the previous time of 1:45.35 set in 2010. WVU senior Taylor Camp finished in second place with a time of 1:45.37 and Notre Dame junior William Bass took third in 1:45.60.
The night ended with the men’s and women’s 400 freestyle relay events. On the women’s side, Notre Dame surged to a lead when Kelly Ryan put the Irish ahead in the first leg. Amy Prestinario, Suzanne Bessire and Emma Reaney added to the margin of victory for ND who won the relay with a time of 3:18.93. In a race for second place, Louisville anchor Aileen Cole pulled her team back from a deficit to edge West Virginia by .01 of a second. The Cardinal team of Kristina Brandenburg, Grite Apanaviciute, Danielle Barbiea and Cole finished with a total time of 3:21.86. The Mountaineer team of Rachael Burnett, Danielle Smith, Amanda Nugent and Kata Fodor earned the bronze with a 3:21.87.
The Louisville men wrapped up the 2012 BIG EAST Championship with a victory in the 400 free relay. The Cardinals found themselves behind in the first two legs before freshman Caryle Blondell pushed ahead to give UofL the lead. Anchor Joao De Lucca capitalized on the lead, closing strong and finishing the relay in a time of 2:52.58. Blondell, De Lucca, Brendon Andrews and Samuel Hoekstra set a new Trees Pool record, breaking the old mark of 2:56.87 set by Louisville in 2010. Notre Dame’s Frank Dyer, Kevin Overhold, John McGinley and William Bass took second with a time of 2:55.42. West Virginia’s Nathan Cobbe, Tim Squires, Bradley Eichenseer and Taylor Camp earned third place with a time of 2:56.20.
Following the conclusion of the swimming events, the BIG EAST presented the major swimming awards. Earning the 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year is Vic Riggs of West Virginia. Riggs led his team to a third place finish at the 2012 BIG EAST Swimming and Diving championship, recording seven individual and relay champions.
Tim Welsh of Notre Dame was chosen as the unanimous 2012 BIG EAST Men’s Swimming coach of the Year after guiding his team to the 2012 Championship title. Notre Dame won five individual championships and showed their depth on the podium throughout the week.
The 2012 BIG EAST Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer is Rachael Burnett of West Virginia. Burnett won three individual titles, one relay title and set a pool and BIG EAST Championship record in the 500-yard freestyle. This is her second Most Outstanding swimmer award after she shared the honor with teammate Amanda Nugent in 2011.
Notre Dame’s William Bass was awarded the 2012 BIG EAST Men’s Most Outstanding Swimmer. Bass won two individual championships, including the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. He set new records for both the Trees Pool and BIG EAST Championship in the 200 IM, breaking the pool record from 2010 and league record from 2009.
Pierre-Antoine Meunier was named Pittsburgh’s male representative for the BIG EAST 2012 American Eagle Outfitters Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year by the conference office. The award was established to recognize student-athletes who have achieved success in the classroom, in the community and on the field. The selection was made by the conference’s Academic Affairs Committee.
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