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Team finishes 5th in weekend meet

Kate Gales | Monday, December 6, 2004

It was a tale of two cities for the No. 21 Irish women this weekend as the team split between the Notre Dame Invitational and the University of Georgia Invitational in the heart of the South.

At the Notre Dame Invitational, Meghan Perry-Eaton took home the top prize in diving, with only three divers and one swimmer competing.

The Irish finished fifth at Georgia with 272 points, with the host No. 1 Bulldogs taking first overall with 1,288 points. Coach Bailey Weathers chose to take the majority of his team to Athens, Ga., because of superior competition.

“The women’s teams that came to Georgia are kind of a different level [than those at the Notre Dame Invitational],” he said. “Georgia is probably the best team in the country right now… it’s good for our teams to see those kids.”

No. 8 California, Minnesota and No. 22 Florida State took first, second and third, respectively, in the women’s competition.

Irish swimmers put up 16 top-20 finishes at the Georgia meet’s final day with a strong showing in a variety of areas.

“I think our depth was a pretty big strength,” Weathers said. “Michigan State and Florida State and Cal-Berkley were pretty rested, so that was hard for us, but in general I think just our depth was good.”

Chistel Bouvron finished sixth with a time of 2:02.69 in the 200-yard butterfly “A” final and eighth in the 100-yard butterfly A final. She competed for her native Singapore in the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 200-yard event, finishing 32nd this summer.

Jessica Stevens also competed in two A finals, taking sixth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:18.34 after taking seventh in Friday’s 2,000-yard individual medley event.

The B final of the 200 breaststroke featured both senior co-captains Kelli Barton and Georgia Healey. Barton posted a season-best 2:20.98 for an 11th-place finish and Healey followed her with a 12th-place finish and another season-best time of 2:21.05. Katie Hopkins took 19th in the C final with a collegiate-best time of 2:24.68 and junior Courtney Choura was close behind her in 21st place with a season-best 2:24.85.

“We had a lot of [swimmers’] best times, so that was really nice,” Weathers said.

The personal best times continued for the 400-yard freestyle relay team, which brought home its lowest time of the fall season. The foursome of Caroline Johnson, Katie Guida, Ellen Johnson and Rebecca Grove finished tenth in 3:29.39.

In the C final of the 200-yard butterfly, three Irish swimmers swam to top-25 finishes. Hopkins finished 19th at 2:07.76, Kelly Battle took 23rd at 2:12.81 and Kiley Gooch finished directly behind her at 24th with a time of 2:14.42.

In her second season with the Irish, sophomore Abby Strang is swimming her way into the record books as one of the fastest distance swimmers in the team’s history. Her time of 17:06.28 was good for the event’s seventh-place finish and established her as the eighth-fastest freestyler in school history. Barton took 12th in the race with 17:24.75 and Georgia Steenberge brought home 18th with 18:13.66.

Notre Dame was well represented in the 200-yard backstroke. Ann Barton took 11th with 2:03.72, followed by Kristen Peter’s 13th-place touch at 2:04.06. Caroline Johnson brought home 16th at 2:07.26, Ellen Johnson took 18th at 2:04.02 and Noemie Brand placed 24th with a time 2:10.58. Gooch finished 26th with a time of 2:09.35.

The Irish will next see competitive waters in the Caribbean as they take part in the New Year’s Invitational at St. Lucia. Weathers is confident in his team’s ability to continually improve this year.

“I think we’re where we need to be,” Weathers said. .” “We’ll just continue to work on technique stuff and everything.”