NOTRE DAME, IN, October 6. NOTRE Dame freshmen Natalie Burke (Cape Town, South Africa/Reddam House College) of South Africa and Drew MacKay (Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cayman Prep & H.S.) of the Cayman Islands will head to Indianapolis, Ind., this week to take part in the FINA World Swimming Championships,Oct. 7-11, in a temporary facility inside the Conseco Fieldhouse, per school reports.
Burke will swim the two sprint breaststroke events, while MacKay will be busy, taking part in six races (50, 100 back; 100 fly; 100, 200, 400 IM). The duo comprises the first Irish swimmers ever to compete in the World Championships, the largest and most prestigious international swimming event this year other than the Olympic Games.
ESPN2 will feature extensive coverage of the World Swimming Championships, showing a total of 11.5 hours of competition, mostly on a same-day, tape-delayed basis.
The World Championships will get underway on Thursday morning, when both Irish competitors will be in action. Burke, seeded 19th out of 39 swimmers with a qualifying time of 32.91, will take part in the 50-meter breaststroke, the first women's event of the meet. MacKay will swim both the 100-meter backstroke (seeded 24th of 46 with a time of 56.80) and the 100 butterfly (38th of 69, 56.77). The top 16 in each of those races will advance to Thursday evening's semifinals, and the top eight will qualify for the final, slated for Friday evening.
Friday will also feature the men's 400 individual medley, an event in which MacKay finished 33rd in last summer's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece (though the Olympics were contested in a 50-meter pool and the world championships will be swum in a 25-meter pool). MacKay is seeded 23rd of 33 qualifiers with a time of 4:26.33. The top eight from prelims will swim in the final on Friday evening.
On Saturday, Burke will swim the 100-meter breaststroke (19th of 44, 1:10.55), while MacKay will compete in the 50 backstroke (23rd of 45, 26.85) and the 200 IM (31st of 49, 2:06.85). The individual medley final will be that evening, while the two shorter races will feature a pair of semifinal heats on Friday before their finals on Sunday. MacKay took 41st in the Athens Olympics in the 200 IM, recording the fastest reaction time by any non-backstroker (0.59 seconds) in the entire meet.
MacKay will swim in the 100-meter individual medley (30th of 56, 1:00.20) on Sunday morning, and the top 16 will advance to the semifinals that night. The 100 IM final will be contested Monday evening.
Single-session, single-day and all-session tickets are still available and are on sale through Ticketmaster. Tickets can be purchased for as low as $10 at www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (1/317-239-5151 locally) or the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office.
This weekend meet marks the first time the FINA World Swimming Championships will take place in the United States. A 25-meter, 300,000-gallon, competition pool and a 175,000-gallon, warm-up pool have been built in the facility that is home to the National Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers.
The World Swimming Championships, now 10 years old, will once again feature a field dotted with the top names in the history of the sport. Among the stars taking part in this year's event will be eight-time Athens medalist (including six golds) Michael Phelps, three-time gold medalist backstroker Aaron Peirsol, Olympic 200 breaststroke champion Amanda Beard, and double Athens winner Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine (200 IM, 400 IM).