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ND Women’s Swimming: Irish lead conference meet

Jared Jedick | Thursday, February 21, 2008

The women’s swimming team jumped out to a roaring start on Wednesday at the Big East championship, finishing in first place after day one of competition with an overall score of 111 points at the Nassau County Aquatics Center in East Meadow, N.Y.

“It was a great overall team effort,” assistant coach Joel White said. “Every single person focused and did their part.”

Close on their heels was Pittsburgh, with a combined score of 97. Pittsburgh was the only Big East team to defeat the Irish this season in a dual meet. Connecticut (80), Louisville (78) and West Virginia (77) rounded out the top five after three events.

The Irish performed well in the relays, which are crucial to winning the overall title for the championship because they are worth double the points of individual events in the final standings.

The 200-yard medley relay team of senior Caroline Johnson, freshman Sam Maxwell, freshman Amywren Miller, and junior Christa Riggins set a new Notre Dame school record with a time of 1:40.84. This was only good enough for second place, however, as they were nudged out by West Virginia by a mere four-hundredths of a second.

“It was a little disappointing to not win the race with that time,” White said. “But any time you are breaking a record on this team, you know you are doing something pretty special.”

The 800-yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Megan Farrell, freshman Lauren Sylvester, junior Claire Hutchinson and Riggins came in second place with a time of 7:17.35. The Irish were beaten out by Louisville by just 1.21 seconds after an impressive final leg surge by Riggins.

“Christa made up a half-pool length in that last leg to take second place,” White said. “She was really impressive and nearly caught the leader.”

The diving team earned three spots in the finals during the preliminary round. Sophomore Natalie Stitt took first place in the 1-meter diving prelims, but dropped to third by the end of the finals. Senior Tara Hyer finished in fifth place and freshman Heidi Grossman rounded out the scoring for the Irish in eighth place.

The four-day Big East championship continues tomorrow at 10 a.m. for preliminaries in 500-yard freestyle, 200 yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle, and the 200-yard freestyle relay before finishing up with the finals at 6 p.m. The championship will continue until Saturday evening. The Irish are going for their 12th consecutive Big East title.