The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Belles face close contest in evenly matched meet

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, January 30, 2004

Saint Mary’s swimming coach Greg Petcoff thinks this weekend’s meet against the University of Chicago could be close. Just how close?”It could come down to the last relay,” Petcoff said.As the end of the 2003-04 swimming season nears, Saint Mary’s faces the challenge of trying to defeat a team that is very similar to themselves, both in and out of the pool. “They are more like us than any other team we have competed against this season,” Petcoff said. “They are more like us with times but have also faced similar struggles.”Both teams have had similar best times this season but have also suffered injuries and seen swimmers not return for a second semester. The Belles, who currently stand at 0-6 in the MIAA, must defeat Chicago on the road this weekend to claim their first victory of the season.Fortunately for Saint Mary’s, Chicago is coming off an 0-2 weekend against Carthage College and Wheaton College. The team has struggled against competition for most of the year after beginning the season with a pair of victories. Despite losses, Chicago swam very comparable times to Saint Mary’s, which competed against Alma College last weekend.Saint Mary’s will probably have to perform season best times, as the Belles face competition of equal talent. Leading Saint Mary’s are seniors Megan Ramsey and Maureen Palchack, who continue to be the backbone of the team. The two veterans hope to pull off victories in the 50-meter freestyle and the 200-meter individual medley, as they will face Chicago’s Sonja Swanson and Emily Testa.The race of the meet, however, will be in the 200-meter freestyle between Saint Mary’s sophomore Kelly Nelis and Chicago’s Deb Ayoub. These women’s times last week, at separate meets, were only separated by .3 seconds. “Kelly [Nelis] was able to hit the same splits in practice as she did last week,” Petcoff said. “But we need her to get out in the first half of the race and compete.” One of the toughest challenges Saint Mary’s will face is Chicago’s rising freshman Katherine Yang, who finished third in the 1000-meter freestyle in a time of 11:8.59 seconds last weekend. “Yang is someone a lot of teams wish … had joined their program,” Petcoff said. “But I would feel confident putting Ramsey up against [Yang] in the thousand [meter race]. Ramsey, who did not compete in the 1000-meter freestyle last weekend, swam 10:57.02 against Kalamazoo earlier this season.But Saint Mary’s cannot hold anything back if they expect to earn a victory this weekend.”It is time to get ready; if we take our races too tentatively, that is not all right.” Petcoff said. “We need to be the aggressive ones.”