The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Women’s Swimming and Diving: Talented sophomores pace squad in meets

Mike Gotimer | Thursday, November 6, 2008

Most Notre Dame students would probably agree that Notre Dame football’s sophomore class, featuring such playmakers as Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate, is integral to the team’s success on the gridiron.

For Notre Dame’s women’s swimming and diving team, the story is no different. The sophomore class has had a profound impact on Notre Dame’s early-season success.

The No. 24 Irish head into this weekend’s meet against Purdue with an undefeated home record and they have not lost any of their 28 races at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Of the 14 individual events the team won against Pittsburgh last weekend, all but one of them were won by a Notre Dame’s sophomore.

The 13 wins for the Irish sophomores against Pittsburgh were split amongst six different swimmers. Breaststroker and individual medley swimmer Samantha Maxwell won three individual events while distance freestyler Lauren Sylvester, sprint freestyler Amywren Miller, backstroker Lauren Parisi, butterflier Katie Casey and diver Heidi Grossman took two individual events each.

Coming into the season, the sophomores had increased expectations in a program in transition. Of the three swimmers that Notre Dame sent to the NCAA championship, two of them – Maxwell and Miller – came from the sophomore class.

Sylvester said her class’ success can be partly attributed to practices under first-year coach Brian Barnes.

“We have a new coach this year and our entire team is just overall thrilled with the decision to have him coach here,” Sylvester said. “The program is a lot different than it has been in the past, and the practices are a lot more challenging than they were last year. Everyone has really stepped up to the challenge and just accepted that it’s going to be hard, even out of the pool. Practices seem to be going really well this early in the season and we have already seen some personal best times.”

With a year of experience under their belts, the Irish sophomores feel comfortable and confident about the upcoming season. Furthermore, the Irish sophomores share a strong bond with each other that helps them to succeed along with their other teammates.

“I know I can speak for the whole team, and I can definitely say it for the sophomore class, but we do not like to lose whether it be as a team or in our individual races,” Sylvester said. “We are a really competitive class and team overall.”

Although the season is young, the team has high aspirations. For starters, Notre Dame looks to extend its 12-year Big East title streak. In addition, they will try to increase the number of qualifiers they send to the NCAA Championship. It is clear that, like their counterparts who line up on Saturdays in Notre Dame Stadium, any success that the Irish women have this season will greatly depend on contributions from their talented sophomore class.