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ND WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Nixon is a rare grad as coach

Chris Khorey | Friday, October 28, 2005

Twenty-six Notre Dame alumni have come back to coach Irish athletic squads in the school’s history. 2002 graduate Carrie Nixon is the latest to return as she takes over as women’s swimming coach this season. She was tabbed in April to replace women’s swimming coach Bailey Weathers, who resigned in March.

Nixon, who is the first female Notre Dame graduate to come back as a coach, competed on four Big East Championship teams (and had a medical redshirt during a fifth) while earning All-American honors twice. Nixon joins Knute Rockne, track legend Alex Wilson and Elmer Layden, a member of the Four Horseman, as the only multiple-time All-Americans to coach at Notre Dame.

Nixon said she tries to avoid focusing on the company her All-American-turned-coach status gives her.

“I try not to think about it too much because it freaks me out a little bit,” she said. “I mean, it puts me in the same category as Knute Rockne and that’s kind of crazy, but I’m doing my best to live up to it.”

Nixon’s love of coaching began during her years at Notre Dame.

“Nixon missed the 2000-01 season with a shoulder injury. She credits that year as the time she first learned how to coach at the collegiate level.

“The year I was out, my senior year, while I had a shoulder injury, I was basically a coach,” she said.

At 27 years of age, Nixon is only three seasons removed from her last year on the Irish roster.

After graduating and completing her fifth year on the swim team, she took a job as an assistant coach at Clemson. There she helped the Tiger men to their best season since 1952 and the women to their highest win total in 15 years.

After only one season, Weathers hired her as an assistant at Notre Dame. Working with some of her former teammates, Nixon saw the Irish win yet another Big East title.

In April, Weathers retired and, after an extensive search, Nixon said Athletic Director Kevin White decided to promote from within.

“There were a lot of interviews, but at the end of all of it the athletic department and I sat down and the conclusion we came to was that we needed to build it from the inside out,” Nixon said.

Nixon said she’s excited for the opportunity to continue the recent Irish success.

“It’s exciting. I have a lot to give them,” Nixon said. “It’s an invaluable thing to be at Notre Dame. It’s a special place and you understand that better as an insider rather than someone coming in.”