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ND Women’s Swimming: Minnesota hands Irish road dual meet loss

Chris Doyen | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In their second dual meet of the season and their first away from Notre Dame, the Irish women fell to Minnesota 199-101, winning four of the meet’s 16 events.

“I thought we did really well,” Notre Dame coach Carrie Nixon said. “Minnesota is a really tough team, and we knew it would be a tough meet. But we had some really great swims from a few girls.”

Junior diver Laura Rings took two of the four events the Irish won, beating Minnesota’s Alex Barstad in the one-meter and three-meter diving competitions with scores of 270.97 and 279.0, respectively.

“Laura just came back from a two-year hiatus from the sport,” said Nixon. “And she’s done an incredible job as a team leader.”

Sophomore Natalie Stitt also beat out Barstad in the one-meter dive and finished in second place, while freshman Heidi Grossman finished third in the three-meter dive.

The other two first-place finishes for the Irish belonged to freshman Katie Casey and junior Christa Riggins. Casey won the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:01.09, besting Minnesota’s freshman Molly Belk by 1.8 seconds.

Nixon has been pleased with Casey’s performance so far this year.

“She had mono for the majority of the summer, and she’s done an incredible job coming off of that illness and training really well.” Nixon said.

Riggins won the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 1:49.29 and beating out Golden Gophers junior Jenny Shaughnessy by .18 seconds. Both Casey and Riggins improved on the times they posted in the previous dual meet against USC and earned NCAA ‘B’ cut times. Riggins also posted solid third-place finishes in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events.

“I’m insanely proud of [Riggins],” Nixon said. “She’s enjoying the whole swimming atmosphere and has stepped into a leadership role. She is a joy to coach and has been really receptive in making changes to some of her strokes.”

Freshmen Lauren Sylvester and Amywren Miller also turned in solid performances for the Irish. Sylvester finished second in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:59.47, just over eight seconds behind Minnesota junior Yuen Kobayashi. Sylvester was able to beat out Minnesota junior Christine Jennings by a mere .12 seconds to hang on to her second-place finish. Miller earned her second-place finish with a time of 23.42 in the 50-yard freestyle, only .21 seconds behind Minnesota junior Stacy Busack.

Freshman Sam Maxwell was the source of two more bright spots for the Irish, finishing second in two of her races. In the 100-yard breaststroke, she clocked in at 1:03.40, 1.6 seconds behind Minnesota freshman Jillian Tyler. Tyler was also victorious in the 200-yard breaststroke, but Maxwell stayed closer, posting a time of 2:16.01, only .61 seconds off Tyler’s pace.

Nixon said the Irish accomplished a lot against the Golden Gophers, even though they weren’t able to pull out the victory.

“Obviously you always want to try to win,” she said. “But we learned a lot, and it was important to come out of the meet with something good.