Big East Conference Championships: Day Two

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, February 16. THE BIG EAST swimming action continued Thursday evening at Trees Pool at the University of Pittsburgh with the men's and women's finals of the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 200 free relay. After the evening's events, Notre Dame continues its hold on first place in the men's competition with 406 points and Louisville stands atop the women's leaderboard with 304 points.

In the women's 500-yard freestyle, West Virginia junior Rachael Burnett took the crown in a time of 4:39.63. Burnett, the two-time defending champion in the event, led the second place-finisher by more than three seconds. She broke a Trees Pool record and bested her own BIG EAST record of 4:41.65 that she set in 2010. Finishing second was West Virginia junior Amanda Nugent with a time of 4:42.80. Villanova junior Hayley Edwards finished in 4:43.52, earning her third place.

Notre Dame led the charge in the men's 500 free competition, earning points for first, second, fourth, seventh and eighth place. Sophomore Frank Dyer took the lead early and never let up, finishing in 4:18.50, a new Trees Pool and BIG EAST Championship record. Freshman teammate Brennan Jacobsen took second with a time of 4:24.28, narrowly edging Pittsburgh senior Morne Boshoff who finished third in 4:24.36.

It was a battle of freshmen in the women's 200 individual medley as the top three finishers are all participating in their first BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame's Emma Reaney took control of the field, winning the event in 1:56.42, setting new Trees Pool and BIG EAST records. She broke the previous pool and championship record of 1:57.83 set by UofL's Leslie VanWinkle in 2010. Louisville's Tanja Kylliainen finished second with a time of 1:59.72 and Camille Dixon of Pittsburgh rounded out the top-three with a time of 2:01.42.

On the men's side, Notre Dame junior William Bass took the title from three-time defending champion senior Carlos Almeida of Louisville. Bass finished in 1:44.81, just ahead of Almeida who came in at 1:46.05. With the victory, Bass broke the old Trees Pool (1:45.71 in 2010) and BIG EAST (1:45.26 in 2009) records, both previously held by Almeida. The third-place finisher was junior Alex Burtch of Louisville with a time of 1:47.09.

Cincinnati women took first and second place in the 50-yard freestyle. Defending champion senior Liz Hansson won the event with a 22.96 while freshman teammate Helena Pikhartova finished second in 23.13. Louisville senior Aileen Cole and freshman Danielle Barbiea along with Connecticut freshman Chinyere Pigot all tied for third place with a time of 23.19.

The Louisville men swept the 50-yard freestyle event, taking first, second and third place in addition to tying for four fourth, and finishing seventh and eighth. Defending champion Brendon Andrews kept his crown as the fastest male swimmer in the league, touching the wall in 19.68. Joao De Lucca took second with a time of 19.88 and Matthew Schlytter finished third in 19.94.

The evening's events wrapped up with the 200 freestyle relay. In the women's competition, the Cardinals took first place in a dramatic race to the finish. Anchor Aileen Cole made the turn neck-and-neck with Notre Dame's Lauren Scott but was able to edge the competition, touching the wall first for a total time of 1:31.47. The other UofL relay swimmers were Kristina Brandenburg, Danielle Barbiea and Lacey Bobo. The Irish finished in second place with a time of 1:31.65. Coming in third place was Cincinnati with a time of 1:32.56.

The Louisville men completed the relay sweep for the Cardinals, beating the field with a time of 1:17.74. The team of Brendon Andrews, Matthew Schlytter, Samuel Hoekstera and Joao De Lucca set new records for Trees Pool and the BIG EAST Championship, beating the previous league time of 1:17.89 that UofL set in 2009. The Fighting Irish relay team finished in second with a time of 1:18.79 and West Virginia rounded out the top-three with a time of 1:19.08.

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