PROVIDENCE, R.I. – As the regular-season comes to an end, BIG EAST teams have begun preparing for the BIG EAST Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The event starts Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Indianapolis, Ind., at the Indiana University Natatorium and concludes Saturday, March 2, with a senior ceremony and final events. BIGEAST.tv will be streaming live coverage of the championship.
BIG EAST Among the Nation’s Best
Louisville is the only BIG EAST program to have both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ranked in the national polls. The Cardinals hold the No. 16 spot in the women’s College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, while the men share the No. 18 ranking with Texas A&M. Notre Dame’s women’s squad is tied with Arkansas in the No. 18 spot, while the Irish men’s team is receiving votes.
Notre Dame Men Look to Repeat in 2012
The Fighting Irish returned to the top last season after spending the previous two years as BIG EAST runner-up. Notre Dame, the second winningest program in BIG EAST Championship history, looks to add its sixth championship trophy since 2005.
Louisville Women Seek Their Third Straight BIG EAST Crown
The Cardinals became the fourth program in BIG EAST history to win the title back in 2011. They repeated as champions last season and look to claim their third crown in as many years under head coach Arthur Albiero.
History Made in 2012
The 2012 BIG EAST Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., saw 12 meet records broken. Louisville’s Joao De Lucca led all swimmers with two individual event records and four as a relay member. De Lucca claimed two records in the 100 and 200-yard freestyles and four as a member of the 400 medley, 200 free, 400 free and 800 freestyle relays. Notre Dame’s Frank Dyer and Bill Bass set records in the 500 free and 200 individual medley, respectively. and Louisville’s Brandon Andrews broke the record in the 100 backstroke to round out the top men’s performers.
In women’s action, three individual records were set. West Virginia’s Rachael Burnett claimed the top time in the 500 free while Notre Dame’s Emma Reaney and Louisville’s Tanja Kylliainen broke records in the 200 and 400 individual medleys, respectively.
On the men’s side, Louisville holds the most meet records with 10, including all five relay races, while Notre Dame edges the Cardinals with seven meet records for the women.
Return to Glory
There will be plenty of talent in Indianapolis next week, as three of the four Swimmer/Diver of the Year award winners from last year’s championship return to the pool. Both Diver of the Year recipients, Nick Nemetz of Notre Dame and Danielle Cecco from Connecticut, as well as the 2012 men’s Swimmer of the Year, Notre Dame’s Bill Bass, headline the event.
Who to Watch
The 2013 BIG EAST Championship will feature 14 champions from a year ago. Joao De Lucca is a clear favorite in sprints. The reigning 100 free champion and two-time defending champion in the 200 free, has the fastest league times in the 50 (19.61), 100 (42.05) and 200 (1:32.57) freestyle races. His mark in the 200 free is the fastest in the nation and his top time in the 100 ranks second nationally. His toughest competition looks to be teammate Caryle Blondell and Frank Dyer of Notre Dame. The Louisville sophomore has the ninth fastest time in the country in the 100 free with a mark of 43.16 seconds and finished sixth in the event a year ago. Dyer, who claimed third in the event a year ago, is the two-time defending champion in the 500 free and has the fastest time in the BIG EAST heading into the meet, with a mark of 4:20.63.
The women’s two-time 100 free champion, Kelly Ryan of Notre Dame, will have a tough task of chasing a three-peat in Indianapolis. Kelsi Worrell of Louisville looks to be her toughest competitor as the freshman holds the top BIG EAST times in the 50 (22.79), 100 (49.37) and 200 (1:46.62) freestyles. Ryan, however, is the reigning 200 back champion and is the favorite heading into the event as she currently holds the top time this season with a mark of 1:54.05.
Another two-time returning champion from last year’s event is Bill Bass of Notre Dame. Bass claimed the 100 fly and 200 IM last year. He won the 100 fly a year ago with a time of 47.03, however, his top time this year ranks sixth among his competitors at 48.83 seconds. De Lucca holds the top mark in 48.15 seconds but did not compete in the event last season.
In long distance, the women’s side will feature a new 1,650 freestyle winner while Brennan Jacobsen of Notre Dame looks to regain his BIG EAST Championship crown. Jacobsen won the event last year in 15:16.77. However, last years’ mark is four seconds slower than the top time in the BIG EAST this year. Bryan Draganosky of Louisville finished the event in 15:12.51 earlier this season at the Purdue Invitational.
The women’s diving event returns last year’s 1-meter champion, Danielle Cecco of Connecticut and three-time defending 3-meter champion, Jenny Chiang of Notre Dame. On the men’s side, Nick Nemetz of Notre Dame looks to hold on this 1 and 3-meter crowns.
Six BIG EAST Schools Earn Weekly Awards
Each week of the season, the BIG EAST selected a men’s and women’s BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week. A total of 21 awards were received by six different schools. Louisville junior Joao De Lucca and Notre Dame sophomore Emma Reaney led all swimmers with three Athlete of the Week awards each.
Men’s Athlete of the Week
Oct. 23: John Brice, Connecticut, Fr.
Oct. 30: Ben Smith, Villanova, Sr.
Nov. 6: Frank Dyer, Notre Dame, Jr.
Nov. 13: Frank Dyer, Notre Dame, Jr.
Nov. 20: Joao De Lucca, Louisville, Jr.
Dec. 4: Joao De Lucca, Louisville, Jr.
Jan. 15: Caryle Blondell, Louisville, So.
Jan. 22: Bill Bass, Notre Dame, Sr.
Jan. 29: Joao De Lucca, Louisville, Jr.
Feb. 5: Caryle Blondell, Louisville, So.
Women’s Athlete of the Week
Oct. 23: Hannah Gold, Louisville, Sr.
Oct. 30: Veronica Lee, Pittsburgh, Jr.
Nov. 6: Kim Holden, Notre Dame, Sr.
Nov. 13: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, So.
Nov. 20: Tanja Kylliainen, Louisville, So.
Dec. 4: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, So.
Jan. 15: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, So.
Jan. 22: Joanna Wu, Rutgers, Fr.
Jan. 29: Kelsi Worrell, Louisville, Fr.
Feb. 5: Kelsi Worrell, Louisville, Fr.
Feb. 12: Nicole Honey, Rutgers, So.