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Irish face familiar foes this weekend

Mike Tennant | Friday, January 14, 2005

Old foes are making a return to South Bend this weekend, as the No. 21 Irish women’s swimming team takes on No. 13 Michigan and Illinois.

The Irish will look to build on a positive winter training trip to the Caribbean that pitted them against Michigan as part of the St. Lucia Invitational. The meet included nine events in short-course meters.

Although the Wolverines outscored the Irish 209-170 at the invitational, the Notre Dame team has a positive attitude going into Friday’s meet.

“We weren’t expecting to do awesome, so we kinda surprised ourselves,” freshman Caroline Johnson said.

Johnson and other Irish swimmers believe the trip was a complete success and feel their previous experience against the Wolverines will give then an edge this weekend.

“We know what to expect,” Johnson said. “Practicing right after them, we know how hard they work.”

Johnson won the 100-meter backstroke at St. Lucia with a time of 1 minute, 5.40 seconds, edging out NCAA qualifier Kaitlyn Brady of Michigan. Johnson was the lone individual winner for the Irish, and is ranked 34th in Division I in the event.

Also claiming a victory at St. Lucia over the Wolverines was the Irish 400-meter freestyle relay team. The team of sophomores Katie Carroll, Rebecca Grove, Ellen Johnson and junior Christel Bouvron finished in a time of 3:59.18, which was more than a full second ahead of the Michigan team. The Wolverines took 15th in the event in last year’s NCAA Championships.

Irish teams also finished third and fourth in the relay. The team of senior Georgia Healey, sophomore Meghan Linnelli and freshmen Noémie Brand and Morgan Bullock finished with a time of 4:10.34, while the team of freshmen Katie Guida and Raine Paulson-Andrews, senior Katie Eckholt, and sophomore Krissy Archer finished in a time of 4:11.76.

The Fighting Illini are riding high into South Bend on the heels of a first-place finish last week at the Irvine Invitational relay meet in California. The Illini swimmers finished in the top three of all three meets throughout the two-day event.

The Irish are confident though, and feel prepared to face Illinois.

“They have a few good swimmers, but they’re not as talented as Michigan, definitely,” Johnson said.

The meet will take place at 7 p.m. tonight and at 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. Irish diving, led by senior Meghan Perry-Eaton, will begin Saturday at 4 p.m.

This weekend will be the only time Notre Dame will face Illinois this season, while the Irish will face the Wolverines again one week from today in a dual meet in Ann Arbor.