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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish ride five meet winning streak into new year

Greg Arbogast | Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Irish continued to make a splash during Christmas break, extending their winning streak to five.

With their 1,120-to-1,111 defeat of No. 15 Michigan in last weekend’s tri-meet that also included Illinois, the Irish extended a streak that includes two dual meet victories, two invitational championships and now a tri-meet victory.

This win was especially impressive given that the Irish had to come from behind to catch the Wolverines. Notre Dame trailed Michigan by 42 points after the first day and 45 points heading into the final events Saturday night, but the Irish came through when it mattered most.

Katie Carroll and Casey Wagner secured a one-two finish in the 200 butterfly to give the Irish the lead. After the 200 butterfly, Notre Dame needed at least a second place finish in the 400 freestyle relay to win the meet. The team of Christa Riggins, Casey Wagner, Meghan Linnelli and Rebecca Grove was up to the challenge, securing a second-place finish in the event with a time of 3:29.81 and a first-place overall finish for the Irish.

“I think that this meet showed we’re a great dual meet team,” coach Carrie Nixon said. “It really showed that we can rally when our backs are against the wall.”

Last weekend’s victory gets the new year off to a good start for the Irish, as they are picking up where they left off before winter break. While most students spent winter break in the harsh weather of winter, the swimming and diving team spent two weeks in warm Las Vegas. The two weeks were spent in the most intense training of the season with breaks to compete against UNLV and North Carolina.

“Over break, you don’t have other worries such as school,” said Nixon. “The point of the trip was to maintain the training, get some competition in, and give the team some bonding time. We reminded the girls that this is the home stretch, and we want them to refocus on our goals.”

Goals remaining for the Irish include wins in the final two dual meets the next two weekends. After that will come the Big East Championships and NCAA championships. Nixon hopes that as many as 10 swimmers will qualify for the NCAAs, for one of the team’s best performances ever.

“Our performance until now has been expected,” Nixon said. “I think the people who are surprised by our performance are those on the outside looking in. We expected this to be a special year.”