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ND WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Irish win ND Invite

Greg Arbogast | Monday, December 5, 2005

The women’s swimming and diving team got out of the blocks quickly and never looked back on their way to a comfortable victory in the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend. The Irish led from start to finish, accumulating 1,822 points while holding off five-time defending Division-II champions Truman State (1,643 points).

After starting the meet in strong fashion Thursday with nine top-three finishes, Notre Dame refocused and delivered stronger results on Friday and Saturday.

During the final two days, the Irish garnered 12 top-three finishes, eight first-place finishes, one season-best time, one NCAA “B” cut time and two meet and pool records.

“You always want to finish the meet strong,” Irish coach Carrie Nixon said. “I felt that our best performance was on Saturday night, and that was very pleasing.”

The highlight of the weekend was Katie Carroll’s performance in the 1,650 freestyle. Carroll, with a time of 16:37.58, broke Linda Gallo’s eight-year-old meet record time of 16:44.91 and bested Michigan’s Emily-Clare Fenn’s pool record of 16:40.28 from 2003.

Carroll’s time, which was the fifth fastest in school history for the event, was fast enough for an NCAA “B” cut time, her sixth of the season.

“Katie’s versatility was really exemplified in the 1,650 [freestyle] this weekend,” Nixon said. “We’re able to put her wherever we need her and wherever she feels that she can make the biggest difference for us.”

Carroll was not the only swimmer to set records for the Irish this weekend, as the 200 individual medley team of Caroline Johnson, Julia Quinn, Rebecca Grove and Jessica Stephens bested a seven-year-old meet and pool record held by Michigan. The relay team set the record by .04 seconds with a time of 1:43.73.

Casey Wagner, Stephens and Johnson turned in other impressive performances this weekend. Wagner won the 200 butterfly with a career-best time of 2:02.79. Stephens earned an NCAA “B” cut time in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.35. Johnson won the 100 backstroke with a season-best time of 56.45.

This recent trend of season-best times and NCAA qualification times has not been lost on Nixon.

“It’s a building process,” Nixon said. “We’ve been training really hard, but we’ve also been learning how to be better athletes. It takes a while to learn that as it builds up over the course of a season.”

With a streak of four consecutive victories behind it, the team has nearly a month off until its next meet against Michigan and Illinois.