PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, February 15. THE swimming portion of the BIG EAST Swimming & Diving Championships kicked off tonight with the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay finals. Louisville jumps ahead in the women’s team standings with 144 points, while Notre Dame leads the men with 197 points at Trees Pool at the University of Pittsburgh.
West Virginia ran away with the women’s 800 freestyle relay, smashing the BIG EAST Championship and Trees Pool records in the process with a time of 7:06.87. The Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead when Rachael Burnett finished the first leg in 1:45.82. Kata Fodor, Amanda Nugent and Danielle Smith held on to the advantage for WVU, finishing the race almost four seconds ahead of the previous Championship time (7:10.03) set by the Mountaineers in 2010. In a race for second place, Villanova’s Katrina Heider was able to hold off Notre Dame’s Emma Reaney to give the Wildcats a runner-up finish with a time of 7:14.11. The Fighting Irish came in third with a time of 7:15.31.
The Louisville men set records of their own in the 800 free relay, finishing in a time of 6:22.70, a new meet and pool record. The time beat the 2011 record of 6:23.23 set by the Cardinals. UofL’s Joao De Lucca was able to come from behind in the second leg to take the lead for the Cardinals, swimming a split time of 1:33.16. The Cardinals’ anchor Michael Pryor survived a surge from Notre Dame’s Kevin Overholt to capture the win for Louisville. The other two Cardinal swimmers were Alex Burtch and Albert Lloyd. The Irish finished second with a time of 6:24.11 and Pittsburgh rounded out the top-three with 6:30.50.
The night wrapped up with the 200-yard medley relay finals with Louisville capturing BIG EAST Championship titles for both the women and men. The Cardinal women collected their first title of the evening, touching the wall at 1:38.68 to edge West Virginia who finished at 1:39.99. The Cardinal team of Kristina Brandenburg, Lindsay Rogers, Lorraine Thompson and Aileen Cole broke the previous Trees Pool record of 1:39.31 set by Notre Dame in 2010. Third-place went to the Irish with a time of 1:40.94.
On the men’s side, Louisville took its second title of the night, after anchor Caryle Blondell touched the wall for a total time of 1:25.97, giving the 200 medley relay crown to the Cardinal foursome of Brendon Andrews, Kameron Chastain, Richard Collins and Blondell. Pittsburgh came in at 1:27.82 for second place and Notre Dame took third with a time of 1:28.73.
For complete results of the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay visit the BIG EAST Swimming & Diving Championship Central page and check out the results link.
BIG EAST Championship swimming action continues Feb. 16 with the 500-yard freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay. Prelims begin at 10 a.m., followed by the finals at 6 p.m.
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