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ND Women’s Swimming: Freshmen spark team

Chris Hine | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No. 19 Notre Dame entered the final event of last week’s Michigan Invitational – the 400-yard freestyle relay – with a slim 7.5-point lead over No. 10 Michigan for second place. Things looked up for the Wolverines when one of their teams touched the wall first and grabbed 40 points.

A few seconds later, however, the Irish broke any hopes the Wolverines had of catching up. Four Irish relay teams managed to outscore the rest of Michigan’s squad and preserve Notre Dame’s finish over a higher-ranked opponent.

And while the Irish upperclassmen were important to the upset, senior captain Katie Carroll said the key to the event was the six Notre Dame freshmen who contributed to the scoring.

“Overall the freshman class has a lot of depth,” Carroll said. “The points they are able to get definitely help us and they’re only getting better.”

While the freshmen may not always win their events, their ability to finish strongly and score third, fourth or fifth-place points are key to Notre Dame’s hope of capturing a Big East title next month.

“There are quite a few of them going to the Big East meet,” Carroll said. “It’s good for them to get their feet wet and get experience.”

At the prestigious U.S. Open meet – an event that featured Olympic quality competition – freshman Natalie Stitt finished 11th in the one-meter dive, while Tiffany Robak placed 16th. Megan Farrell and Ashlee Edgell placed 48th and 58th in the 200-meter individual medley. Numerous freshmen also hold top team times in their respective events, including Lexie Shue (500-meter freestyle), Farrell (200-meter fly), Stacey Nedrud (200-meter backstroke) and Stitt (one-meter dive). Right on their heels are other freshman team members who hold the second-best times in their events, such as Edgell (200-meter backstroke), Vivian Healey (100-meter breaststroke), Zeina Shanata (200-meter fly) and Robak (one-meter dive).

Despite their accomplishments in the pool, Carroll, who won three events at the Michigan Invitational, said their biggest impact has come out of the water.

“They are a light-hearted and funny group,” she said. “They don’t take it too seriously, and they help lighten the mood.”

Carroll said the freshmen group’s hunger and work ethic has also encouraged the rest of the team to maximize its potential.

“I train with Ashlee Edgell and Megan Farrell. They push me everyday. Their times are really good and are only going to get better.” Carroll said. “It’s so hard to single them out individually because all of them contribute in their own ways to the team.”

The squad has two more events – the Shamrock Invitation at home Friday and Saturday and a dual meet at Louisville Feb. 3 – before the all-important Big East meet Feb. 14-17.