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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish look to make history

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, February 6, 2007

If it had been accomplished by the soccer team, Notre Dame would be known as the Indiana soccer powerhouse, rather than the cross-state rival Hoosiers.

And if it had been done by the basketball team, the Joyce Center would certainly be selling out home games other than Alabama and Villanova.

But when the Notre Dame women enter the pool on Feb. 14, few around the Notre Dame community other than those wearing their swimsuits will realize that the Irish will be defending a record 10 consecutive Big East titles.

“I don’t think it’s been publicized very much,” senior captain Katie Carroll said. “It would be nice if people knew that we held the record. It would give a good name to the University.”

With a victory at this year’s Big East championships in Long Island, N.Y., No. 19 Notre Dame would become the first school in Big East history to win 11 consecutive conference titles in any sport. The only other program to match Notre Dame’s current streak is the Pittsburgh men’s swimming and diving program, which won 10 consecutive titles from 1983-1992.

“We’ve been fairly consistent over the years,” Carroll said. “We’ve had some good coaching and some good recruiting, and it’s helped us accomplish something pretty special.”

Carroll, a four-year standout for Notre Dame, has been an integral member of the last three Irish teams to earn the Big East title. In 2006, Carroll was the Big East champion in the 400-meter individual medley, and she has earned seven all-conference certificates. Despite the individual accolades, Carroll realizes the magnitude of what the program has accomplished.

“It’s pretty cool because in the past four years I’ve been part of something that’s bigger than myself,” Carroll said. “People ten years ago started this winning streak, and we’re just trying to carry it on.”

Despite being the highest-ranked team nationally from the Big East this season, the Irish can expect to face some stiff competition at this year’s championships. By finishing second in five of the past seven Big East championships, Rutgers is a worthy adversary. And this season figures to be no different.

The No. 23 Scarlet Knights cracked the top 25 for the first time all season in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll. Rutgers, like Notre Dame, has only one dual loss.

“Rutgers almost beat us last year, and that would have been huge for them,” Carroll said. “Honestly though, I think it’s going to be a competition for second place. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves.”