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ND Women’s Swimming: Notre Dame brings home 12th straight crown

Jared Jedick | Monday, February 25, 2008

A perfect dozen – more than a motivational catch-phrase for the Irish this year – these words represented the making of history, as Notre Dame won its twelfth consecutive Big East title, a feat that has never been accomplished before in the Big East, Irish coach Carrie Nixon said.

Coming in with a final tally of 767 points, the Irish blew away the field with their highest Big East championship total ever. Second-place Louisville trailed by 239.5 points once the final day of racing was completed.

Head coach Carrie Nixon was named 2008 Big East coach of the year for the second consecutive year.

“It is a really special honor for me and my coaching staff,” Nixon said. “It is done by peer voting, so that makes it a real honor.”

Junior Christa Riggins was the standout performer for the Irish, earning titles in the 200-yard freestyle relay, 400-freestyle relay, and the 200-freestyle.

“Christa had the hands down best performance of the meet,” Nixon said. “You could tell that she was going to swim fast just by the way she carried herself, and the other girls fed off of that.”

Riggins’ time of 1:44.89 in the 200-freestyle was good enough for an NCAA ‘A’ cut, meaning that she automatically qualified for the NCAA championships on March 20. She shaved off three seconds from her time in the event last year.

“That is an unheard of drop,” Nixon said. “That is the type of performance that one gets to see only once in a blue moon.”

Riggins also brought a lot of leadership to the team, participating in numerous relays in addition to her individual events, Nixon said.

“She is an incredible leader,” Nixon said. “With such a young team, she had some big shoes to fill, and she did it with poise, confidence, and energy.”

Irish freshman Amywren Miller also had an excellent meet, attacking some records held by Nixon herself. Miller tied Nixon’s record time of 22.39 in the 50-freestyle for the victory, and NCAA ‘A’ cut time, and surpassed Nixon’s record in the 100-freestyle with a time of 49.10 to come in second place. Nixon was a 12-time All-American swimmer who graduated from the University in 2002.

“It was a dream of mine to see these girls beat some of my times,” Nixon said. “And now I got to see Amywren do it.”

Freshman Sam Maxwell achieved two NCAA ‘A’ qualifications in the 100-breaststroke and the 200-breaststroke with times of 1:02.68 and 2:12.76 respectively. These were both new Notre Dame records, and the 200-breaststroke bested the Big East record by nearly a second.

“Sam is such a competitor,” Nixon said. “Especially coming from a small high school program, her ability to perform at such a high level all the time is really incredible.”

Finishing off the meet with a victory was freshman Katie Casey, winning the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:59.37.

Also performing well was an inspired diving team led by sophomore Natalie Stitt. Driven by the absence of hospitalized senior Laura Rings, the divers went on to lead the Irish.

“They were really our knights in shining armor,” Nixon said. “They executed everything perfectly and really stepped up to fill Laura’s shoes.”

Holding together this outstanding young talent was a team spirit the coaching staff has never seen before.

“I have never seen a team come together like this before ever since I have become a coach,” Nixon said. “It is really inspiring to see them take advantage of the opportunity they were given.”

The Irish now need to prepare to send three to six girls to the NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio, on March 20.

“We want to show that we have arrived at the national level,” Nixon said.