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No. 16 Irish off to best start in 30 years

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, January 17, 2007

After a long period of training over winter break, the Notre Dame women’s swimming team started 2007 with a second place finish at the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor last weekend.

Meanwhile, the No. 16 men’s team spent its winter break training in Boca Raton, Fla., then hit the road again to face off against Oakland and participate in a four-team meet at Cleveland State.

The Irish defeated Oakland 181-119 last Friday. Sophomore diver Michael Bulfin, freshman John Lytle, and freshman Ross Moore each posted two wins at the meet.

Notre Dame then went on to defeat Cleveland State, Xavier, and Duquense in a quad meet Saturday. The three wins improved Notre Dame’s their record to 8-0 this year in individual meets, their best start since the 1974-75 season.

The No. 19 ranked women’s team scored 1074 points in Ann Arbor, finishing behind No. 13 Indiana (1460.5 points), but ahead of No. 10 Michigan (1052.5).

“This was great. It’s always great to perform well in a big event like this,” women’s head coach Carrie Nixon said.

Notre Dame entered the final event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with a small lead over the Wolverines. Even though Michigan managed to take the top spot in the event, the Irish scored better overall. The team of senior Katie Carroll, freshman Megan Farrell, senior Rebecca Grove, and sophomore Christa Riggins placed third in the event for the Irish while Notre Dame’s four other relay teams finished fifth, sixth, ninth, and seventeenth respectively.

“It’s always great when you beat Michigan. They’re huge rivals of ours,” Nixon said.

Carroll captured three events at the invitational by posting winning times in 200-yard butterfly, 500-yard freestyle, and 200-yard individual medley.

“It was self-assuring because this came off a training trip,” Carroll said. “So, it’s definitely good for the rest of the season.”

Fellow senior Julia Quinn swam a season’s best time in the 200-breaststroke, while junior Caroline Johnson set a season best time in the 50-yard freestyle (23.57), good enough for third. She also placed seventh in the 100-freestyle while Rigging placed fifth in the same event.

“Katie had a great meet,” Nixon said. “Julia swam the breaststroke two seconds faster than at this time last year and the 50 and 100-freestyle were breakout swims for Caroline.”

After competing in last month’s U.S. Open, the team spent most of winter break training in Honolulu.

“The girls trained very hard. They have set themselves up for another championship season,” Nixon said. “They’re doing the little things well, playing to their strengths and capitalizing on other’s weaknesses.”

The main purpose of the trip, Nixon and Carroll said, was to prepare for the Big East meet in February.

“Mainly, we built up our endurance. Also, it was nice to get out of South Bend and into some nice weather,” Carroll said.