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ND WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Irish lose to No. 8 Cal, No. 15 Purdue

Joe Meixell | Monday, October 31, 2005

The women’s swimming and diving team proved it could hang with the best talent in the country this weekend.

The Irish competed with No. 8 ranked California-Berkeley down to the last event Friday night at home.

Then, the Notre Dame shifted its focus immediately to a closely contested Saturday meet with rival Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.

Against California, the Irish needed a first- and second-place in the final event of the night, the 400-freestyle relay. Notre Dame wasn’t able to finish better than second and third in the event, allowing California to emerge with a 156.5-141.5 victory.

The Irish had little time to reflect on their positive performance against Cal as they faced a motivated Purdue team on Saturday.

Notre Dame was not able to put together as strong an effort, as Purdue won the meet 172-128.

Notre Dame pulled as close as 127-118, but Purdue put the meet out of reach by taking first and second place in both of the diving events.

“We might have been a little tired against Purdue coming off of the Cal meet, and we also missed the home pool advantage that we had against Cal,” junior Jessica Stephens said.

During the weekend, the Irish were hurt by their inability to touch out – or stretch for the finish.

While the number of first and second place finishes were close in both meets, both Cal and Purdue consistently took home third and fourth place, giving them the precious points that led to their victories.

There were many positives for the team, most notably the swimming of junior Katie Carroll, who won six events over the weekend.

Those events included a school record against Cal with a time of 1:48.79 in the 200-freestyle. Another positive for the Irish was the performance of the new freshmen class which, between them, accounted for three first-place finishes and one second-place finish.

“Our freshmen are having a huge impact as they’re adding depth to an already talented team,” Carroll said.

Perhaps the biggest positive, however, is the confidence Notre Dame gained from competing with such a talented opponent.

“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a while as we knew that Cal would be tough, but we realized that we’re at their caliber,” Carroll said. “We have the talent, we have the potential and we have the coaches to bring us to their caliber.”

The Irish will look to carry their newfound confidence with them when they open Big East play in their next meet Friday at Pittsburgh.

“We’ve had some really great swims so far,” Carroll said. “We’re right where we want to be at this point.”