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Irish cruise to win over Spartans

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 23, 2006

With its 156-147 victory over Michigan State this past Saturday, the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team returns home with its sixth consecutive first place finish, leaving the state of Michigan in its wake.

After defeating Michigan two weekends ago, the Irish used this weekend’s meet against a less talented Michigan State team to allow their swimmers the opportunity to compete in events the swimmers don’t normally swim.

“Swimming in off-events is a mental break for the kids,” head coach Carrie Nixon said. “It’s a change of pace and a chance to work on different strokes. Most importantly, you learn how to be versatile, which is really important.”

Junior swimmer Katie Carroll agreed with her coach’s assessment of off-events, but added she also finds them helpful because “they give you a chance to see what your teammates have to go through in their events.”

Carroll, along with freshman Christa Riggins, led Notre Dame against the Spartans as each tallied two individual victories. Carroll won the 200 breast stroke, an off-event for her, as well as the 200 individual medley. Riggins was victorious in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Also collecting first place finishes for the Irish were Claire Hutchinson, Rebecca Grove, Jessica Stephens, Katie Hopkins and Casey Wagner.

By allowing the majority of their swimmers to compete in off-events, the Irish essentially sent their ‘B’ team to East Lansing this past weekend, but Carroll and her teammates didn’t allow that to deter them.

“The fact that we basically sent our ‘B’ team while Michigan State sent their ‘A’ team, yet we were still victorious, was a real confidence booster for us,” Carroll said.

But Notre Dame hardly needs another reason to be confident. In fact, the Irish have not finished worse than first place in any type of meet since losing to Purdue on Oct. 29. To put that in perspective, Oct. 29 was the weekend between the BYU and Tennessee football games.

Nixon cited a couple of reasons for her team’s stellar performance in the past six meets.

“We’re certainly swimming with a lot of confidence right now,” she said. “But I also think the girls are swimming well because they know the end is near and it’s crunch time. I think our performance lately has been a combination of those two things.”

The Irish face the Louisville Cardinals this weekend in their final meet before the Big East conference championship.