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ND WOMEN’s SWIMMING: Riggins leads Irish to victory in home Relays

Chris Khorey | Monday, October 10, 2005

Christa Riggins couldn’t wait to get in the pool.

The freshman swimmer was the first in the water for Notre Dame, leading off an Irish victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay on the way to a dominating team performance Friday in the Dennis Stark Relays at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

The Irish accumulated 240 points, 40 more than second place Ball State. Notre Dame won all but three scored events.

The meet consisted entirely of relays, a format designed to ease teams into the season and make the transition to college competition easier for young athletes like Riggins.

“It was very exciting to swim for your college coaches for the first time, but it was less pressure with it being a relay meet and with knowing we were going to do well,” Riggins said.

New Irish coach Carrie Nixon wanted to instill a sense of teamwork and unity in her squad before the season began. Riggins said she felt Nixon’s efforts had succeeded after the Stark Relays.

“I thought we had great team pride and Irish pride,” Riggins said.

Illinois State took third in the meet with 154 points, followed by Oakland with 114, Wisconsin-Milwaukee with 94, Valparaiso with 50, Cleveland State with 46 and Marquette with 26.

Riggins and teammates Raine Paulson-Andrews, Meghan Linelli and Katie Guida won the 200 Free to begin the meet with a time of 1:38.14.

The Irish were less successful in the next scored race, the 400-yard medley. Ball State won the race in 3:57.57. The Notre Dame team of Ellen Johnson, Katie Hopkins, Jessica Stephens and Krissy Archer finished third, almost four seconds behind.

The Irish returned to their winning ways in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Led by Katie Carroll, whose leg of 1:50.89 came one second short of the school record, Notre Dame set a meet record with a 7:32.87. Carroll, Ellen Johnson, Rebecca Grove and Ann Barton beat the old mark by almost 10 seconds.

The Notre Dame 400-yard individual medley team also won, with Jessica Stephens, Natalie Burke, Carroll and Courtney Choura finishing just .41 short of the meet record with a 4:00.68.

The next race was a 500-yard crescendo relay, with athletes swimming in 50-, 100-, 200-, 100- and 50-yard legs in order. The Irish team made up of Grove, Ellen Johnson, Caroline Johnson, Riggins and Katie Guida broke a meet record with a 4:32.50.

In the 400-yard butterfly relay, the Irish came away with a victory as Choura, Riggins, Claire Hutchinson and Wagner combined for a time of 3:56.51.

The Irish continued their winning streak with a victory in the 400-yard backstroke relay with Brand, Barton, Gooch and Kiley Grove posting a time of 3:56.62.

In the 400-yard breaststroke relay, Quinn, Stephens, Choura and Burke led the Irish to a victory with a time of 4:30.67.

Hutchinson and Abby Strang won the two-swimmer 1000-yard freestyle relay with a time of 10:19.11.

Ball State broke the Notre Dame winning streak with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay, but the Irish won again in the 400-yard freestyle relay, as Caroline Johnson, Paulson Andrews, Kelly Battle and Guida passed the Cardinals.

On the diving side, scores from 3-meter and 1-meter synchronized contests combined for a relay score. Irish divers Tara Hyer and Lucy Hirt won the 3-meter competition, but Ball State won overall with a score of 428.15.

The Irish will now refocus for the dual meet season, which begins Oct. 28 against California. This change represents not only an altered mindset, but also different workouts in practice.

“I know right now we’re kind of on an aerobic based program, and after fall break we’re going to do more specific, personally related sets,” Riggins said. “Sprinters will divide into sprints, middle distance and long distance the same way. I think the distance we swim will be the same, but the way we swim will be different.”