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ND WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Irish women lead after Invitational’s first day

Joe Meixell | Friday, December 2, 2005

The women’s swimming and diving team entered this weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational brimming with confidence, and Thursday’s results justified that approach.

Through the first day of the three-day event at Rolfs Aquatic Center, the Irish are in first place with 555 points out of 11 teams. Notre Dame will have to hold off Utah for the next two days. The Utes are only 29 points behind the Irish.

Notre Dame has shown remarkable improvement as this season has progressed. The team’s times and overall performance has improved from week to week. Thursday was clear evidence of that improvement as the Irish achieved two career best times, one season best time and an NCAA ‘B’ cut time.

The Irish dominated throughout the day, registering nine top-three finishes and not finishing worse than second place in any of Thursday’s six events.

Notre Dame the top three spots in the 500-freestyle on the first day. Freshman Casey Wagner took first place with a career-best time of 4:54.89. Classmate Claire Hutchinson (4:57.82) finished in second, followed by junior Ellen Johnson (4:57.97).

The 500-freestyle was followed by the 200 individual medley, where Jessica Stephens took first place with an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 2:04.22. Junior Ann Barton finished in second place with a season-best time of 2:05.83.

The night concluded with an impressive performance by sophomore diver Tara Hyer, who compiled a career-best 313.45 points. The score put her in a close second to Utah’s Kelsey Patterson.

Irish coach Carrie Nixon said Notre Dame’s first day of an invitational typically has been its weakest, so the Irish performance on the second day will be telling.

In the Minnesota Invitational, which took place from Nov. 18-20, the Irish performed stronger on the second and third days of the meet. The Irish posted a win after that meet.