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ND WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Irish Invite makes a splash

Greg Arbogast | Thursday, December 1, 2005

Their victory in the 10-team Minnesota Invitational on Nov. 20 behind them, the Irish have refocused their efforts for the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend. The meet, beginning today at 10 a.m. at the Rolfs Aquatic Center, will follow the same format as the Minnesota Invitational, meaning the invite will cover three full days with both preliminaries and finals.

This style is very different from the dual-meet format comprising the bulk of the early season meets for the Irish, and this fact has not been lost on the swimmers.

“In a dual meet, you know who you will be competing against, so you are able to prepare for them,” Irish swimmer Caroline Johnson said. “There are so many people in an invitational, though, that you have to be prepared for anything.”

Johnson, who took first place in the 100-meter backstroke and was part of a first place squad in the 200-meter medley relay, is eager for Notre Dame’s third invitational of the season, including the season-opening Dennis Stark Relays.

“I like the invitational style because you get to compete against people that you wouldn’t normally compete against,” she said.

Katie Carroll has a different view of the invitational-style meet.

“Invitationals allow you to see more where you are competitively because there are so many swimmers,” she said. “It’s like a marathon, as they’re mentally and physically tough.”

Irish coach Carrie Nixon is well aware of the competitive atmosphere and difficulty of this weekend’s meet, as she has used the two weeks since the Irish victory in Minnesota to allow her squad to rest up. The team has enjoyed lighter practices, hoping to build its stamina back up in time for competition.

Big Ten powers Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with solid Big XII schools Iowa State and Nebraska, challenged Notre Dame in the Minnesota meet. The competition this weekend will not rival that seen in Minneapolis, but there will be some interesting teams coming to South Bend. Among the standouts is five-time defending Division II national champion Truman State. Another group likely to push the Irish is Utah, which is 4-1 in dual meets entering today.

But the Irish go into this weekend’s meet confident to face any competition.

“Our recent success, especially in Minnesota, has made us realize we have a lot of potential,” Johnson said. “We’re motivated not just for this weekend, but for the Big East and NCAAs as well.”

Notre Dame currently has a 3-meet winning streak including Pittsburgh, Minnesota and the Minnesota Invitational.