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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish compete at NCAAs

Nathaniel Lee | Monday, March 23, 2009

After powering their way to a record-extending 13th consecutive Big East title, the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team capped off its stellar season at the NCAA national championships last weekend in College Station, Texas.

Under the direction of Irish Brian Barnes and diving coach Caiming Xie, three athletes took to the pools in the tough national field.

“The competition at this level is extremely tough,” Barnes said. “It is an amazing honor for all of these athletes just to make it this far.”

First in the water for the Irish was sophomore Amywren Miller. In her return to the National Championship meet, Miller swam the 50-yard free in 22.47, placing her at 26th overall in the preliminaries. She was unable to advance to the finals, though, but ended her second collegiate season with a strong showing in the tough field.

“When you swim at this level there’s always things you feel like you could have done better, but I just came out to have fun and improve from last year, which I did,” Miller said. “I really fed on the great positive energy of the team this season.”

The next competitor for Notre Dame was junior diver Natalie Stitt, who was competing in her first ever NCAA appearance. In the 1-meter event, Stitt tallied a final score of 245.30, good enough to place 32nd. Next she competed in the 3-meter dive, finishing in 32nd again, with a final score of 245.65.

“I had a few nerves for my first time at this meet,” Stitt said. “The field is full of amazing divers, it makes you really want to aspire to be like them.”

The final swimmer for the Irish was sophomore standout Samantha Maxwell, one of the nation’s top performers all season long, and a school record-holder in several events.

In the 100 breast preliminaries, Maxwell bested her own school record to set the first-ever sub 1:00 time, tagging up in 59.73. In the finals, Maxwell did it again, setting her own mark even lower, swimming a blazing 59.44 to place 6th, and earn her first ever All-American honor.

‘The girls in thee events are so fast, as soon as a race starts its almost over, so you have to be perfect from the dive to the finish,” Maxwell said. “We have been building up to this all season, so I felt more comfortable my second time around.”

In Notre Dame’s final event of the season, Maxwell put in another strong effort in the 200 breast, touching in 2:09.62 to snag the 11th spot in the nation. She set yet another Notre Dame record in the process.

The Irish finished in 31st place as a team with 19 points.