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Women’s Swimming: Irish complete sweep at Shamrock Invitational

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 26, 2009

In commanding fashion Notre Dame took full advantage of swimming at home to sweep Michigan State, Denver and West Virginia this weekend at the fourth annual Shamrock Invitational. Wins of 259.5-106.5, 233-131 and 265.5-97.5, respectively raised the No. 24 Irish to an overall record of 6-2 for the dual meet season.

“We had three good schools coming into the Rolfs Aquatic center this weekend,” Irish coach Brian Barnes said. “In the end we were tough, and that was the difference.”

Notre Dame started strong with an impressive win in the 200 medley Relay, winning in 1:43.91 Junior Maggie Behrens led the crew along with sophomores Samantha Maxwell, Kellyn Kuhlke and Amywren Miller.

“The relays performed very well this weekend, especially the medleys,” Barnes said. “It is a good indicator that we are having multiple outstanding individual performances.”

Building on the team’s earlier success, sophomore Katie Casey edged out Michigan State’s Becca Ebner in the 100 fly for a win in 56.19. The standout sophomore and defending Big East champion in the 200 fly won that event as well in commanding fashion, holding off the field after a fast start for a time of 2:03.00.

In the 800 free relay, Sophomore Lauren Sylvester swam the Irish to an early lead. Junior Zeina Shanata and freshman Amy Prestinario held the lead for junior Megan Farrell to close out the victory in 7:30.04. Farrell also held off a tough field in the 200 free and won with a touch at 1:51.39.

National swimmer of the week, Samantha Maxwell continued her individual success at the Invite. In the 100 breast, a speedy finish gave Maxwell the win over Denver’s Emily Kuhr in 1:03.13. She also opened up a quick lead in the 200 breast and continued to pull away for one more win.

Sophomore Heidi Grossman and junior Natalie Stitt took the top two spots in the one-meter dive with scores of 280.70 and 273.20.

“We are getting into the time of the season when details become more and more important with the championship run. It is important to focus in the individuals as parts of the whole,” Barnes said. “Right now coaching each girl individually will lead to the most successful postseason possible.”

The team’s four seniors, Lucy Hirt, Claire Hutchinson, Christina Riggins and Casey Wagner, were honored by their teammates with the dominating wins in their last ever home meet.

“It was important for the team to help our seniors out with these wins,” Barnes said. “For the seniors it was emotional having their last home meet, but they didn’t let it affect the way they treated the competition.”

The Irish are now focused on their final dual meet at Michigan on Feb. 7. The meet will be the final tune-up for Notre Dame’s swimmers and divers before the difficult task of winning their 13th consecutive Big East Championship in Indianapolis Feb. 18-21.