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Irish win Big East swimming title

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Irish did it again.

Notre Dame won its ninth straight Big East championship this weekend in East Meadow, N.Y.

The Irish won 11 of 20 events, including four on the final day, for a final tally of 804 points – 191 points ahead of runner-up Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame also claimed three of the four major awards. On the diving end, coach Caiming Xie was named the league’s diving coach of the year and fifth-year senior Meghan Perry Eaton was named the Big East Championship’s Most Outstanding Diver for the third year in a row.

Head swimming coach Bailey Weathers was named Big East Swimming Coach of the Year, taking the honor for the sixth time in 10 years.

“I think this demonstrates how hard the kids on the team worked,” Weathers said. “I don’t think it was something for me, but for the whole team.”

Ten Irish swimmers and divers were named All-Big East selections this weekend. Leading the pack was Katie Carroll, who won seven Big East titles, including three in individual events.

The sophomore made an NCAA “A” cut in the 400-yard individual medley, ensuring her a place in the NCAA Championships next month. Carroll also won the 200 IM and the 200 butterfly, hitting NCAA “B” cuts in both events.

Carroll was also a member of the 800-yard freestyle relay team that set an Irish record with a time of 7:16.95. The team of Caroline Johnson, Ellen Johnson, Carroll and Rebecca Grove won the 400 freestyle relay, as well, hitting “B” cuts in both.

Johnson, Carroll and Grove were members of the title-winning 200 freestyle team along with Katie Guida. That team also made a “B” cut.

Ellen Johnson also set a Notre Dame record in the 200 freestyle with a mark of 1:49.20. Her time was good enough for a “B” cut, as was her first place 500 freestyle time.

Perry-Eaton concluded her illustrious Big East career in fine fashion, dominating the field off both the one and three-meter boards. The All-American won the one-meter competition by 64.65 points and then took the three-meter title by 123.95 points.

Her score of 555.20 set a meet record, and her five career Big East titles also tied the conference record.

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend came from freshman diver Tara Hyler.

She finished second to Perry-Eaton in the three-meter competition with a score of 431.25 that was also good enough to qualify for the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships scheduled for mid-March. Hyler became just the third Irish diver to be named All-Big East, joining the company of two All-Americans, Perry-Eaton and Heather Mattingly (’02).

Despite a competitive field, the Irish swam away with the championship, leaving Pittsburgh a distant second with 613 points and Rutgers, runner-up the last two years, in third with 545 points.

“The girls worked hard and enjoyed it,” Weathers said. “It was pretty special to all of them.”

Up next for the Irish is the Boiler-Make-It Invitational, which will showcase swimmers who were not able to compete in the Big East Championships as well as those who are close to making NCAA cuts.