May 13, 2005
May 13, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Carrie Nixon, one of the most decorated student-athletes in any sport in University of Notre Dame athletics history and an Irish assistant women’s swimming coach this past season, has been named the fourth head women’s swimming and diving coach in Irish history.
Nixon replaces Bailey Weathers, who resigned March 29 following 10 seasons as Irish head coach.
A 2002 Notre Dame graduate and former NCAA 50-meter freestyle record-holder who won 18 BIG EAST Conference titles and earned All-America honors on 12 occasions, Nixon is the first female student-athlete from Notre Dame ever to be hired at her alma mater as a head coach.
In her six-year affiliation with the program – as a swimmer from 1997-98 to 2001-02 and an assistant coach in 2004-05 – Nixon has helped Notre Dame win the BIG EAST championship each season by more than 175 points. Additionally, the Irish have been in the top 30 at the NCAA Championships in all but one of those six years — and they have been a regular presence in the national rankings, including the program’s first-ever top-10 ranking in 1999-2000. Individually, the Nixon years have seen the Irish post 58 first-place finishes at the BIG EAST meet, earn 33 invitations to the NCAA Championships, and cop seven All-America accolades and 30 more honorable-mention All-America citations. Seventeen of the 19 current Notre Dame swimming records were set during Nixon’s affiliation with the Irish.
“Carrie has a tremendous understanding of and appreciation for Notre Dame and specifically for Notre Dame swimming,” says Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.
“She has been a huge part of the success of our program, both in and out of the pool, and she knows what is required when it comes to competing at the elite level of women’s collegiate swimming. Carrie’s vision for our program and where it’s headed dovetails perfectly with our expectations for the future of women’s swimming at Notre Dame.”
Nixon returned to her alma mater in June 2004 to become an assistant coach. In her first year back at Notre Dame, Nixon helped the Irish to various heights, including winning 11 of 20 events – the second-most ever by Notre Dame in the meet – in cruising to a ninth consecutive BIG EAST championship with 804 points, the second-highest total in program history. Notre Dame then scored 32 points at the NCAA meet – its third-highest total ever – en route to a 24th-place tie in the team standings. The Irish were ranked as high as 21st in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national dual-meet poll. Notre Dame went 6-3 in dual meets, with all three defeats coming against nationally-ranked squads.
The 2004-05 squad was just the second in Notre Dame history to feature an All-American in both swimming (sophomore Katie Carroll) and diving (fifth-year senior Meghan Perry-Eaton). The only other squad to have achieved that was the 2001-02 team, for which Nixon was the swimming All-American.
The Irish also excelled academically in Nixon’s first year on staff, as they ranked 29th in Division I in team grade-point average in the fall semester (3.22) and were one of just five schools to rank in the top 30 in both fall GPA and at the NCAA Championships. The Irish also saw senior Kelli Barton selected as one of the University’s three nominees for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America women’s at-large program. Formerly tabbed an Academic All-American by the CSCAA after reaching the NCAA Championships in 2002, she boasts a 3.934 GPA, having been named to the Dean’s List in all seven of her semesters.
Individually, the 2004-05 campaign saw some of the top performances in program history, as well as marked improvement for Notre Dame’s top student-athletes. Carroll turned in the second-highest finish ever by an Irish swimmer at the NCAA meet – behind only Nixon’s 50-free swim in 2000 – in taking sixth in the 400 individual medley. She also broke her own Irish records in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 400-yard IM, while posting a lifetime best in the 200 butterfly at the NCAA meet, as well. Carroll was the BIG EAST Championships high-point scorer, and she nearly joined Nixon in the elite club of Notre Dame swimmers to have won seven titles in seven swims at the BIG EAST meet, ending up with six race victories.
Junior Christel Bouvron made a significant jump in her third collegiate season, qualifying for the NCAA meet for the first time after sweeping the butterfly events at the BIG EAST meet. Both of those were NCAA “B” cuts, after she had no “B” times in 2003-04. Among the others who reached new heights in Nixon’s initial year on the Irish staff were sophomore Ellen Johnson, who lowered her career best in the 200 freestyle by more than one second in breaking the school record with a time of 1:49.20. She also hit an NCAA “B” cut in the 500 free for the first time. Another sophomore, Jessica Stephens, claimed her first BIG EAST championship (200 breaststroke) and notched NCAA “B” times in both that race and the 200 IM, the first two consideration marks of her collegiate career. Sophomore Rebecca Grove – who benefited from the expertise of her standout former sprinter coach – also notched an NCAA “B” cut in the 100 freestyle for the first time.
Perry-Eaton turned in the second-best result ever by an Notre Dame diver in the national championships (fifth in one-meter action) and tied conference records by both winning her fifth career BIG EAST diving title and being named the league meet’s Most Outstanding Diver for the third consecutive year. In her final meet, Perry-Eaton broke the Rolfs Aquatic Center championship-meet records off both springboards. She also broke her own one-meter dual-meet school record and claimed the BIG EAST Championships record in three-meter action.
The 2004-05 squad also reasserted Notre Dame as the dominant relay force in the BIG EAST, as the Irish won four of the five relays after taking first in just three total relays since Nixon’s graduation. The highlight was the 800 free relay, which broke the Notre Dame record with a time of 7:16.95 and just missed a trip to the NCAA meet, ending up as the 16th-fastest in Division I (the top 13 make the national championships).
Nixon was previously an assistant coach for the Clemson University men’s and women’s teams in 2003-04, serving as coordinator of recruiting, while working primarily with the sprinters, butterflyers, and IMers in the pool.
She helped the Tigers to an outstanding season, as both squads finished among the top 40 at the NCAA Championships (men tied for 35th, women 39th). The Clemson men, who scored points in the NCAA meet for the first time since 1989, were 13-2-1 (4-1-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference competition) in dual-meet action, registering their highest victory total in the 52-year history of the program before winning two titles and taking fourth place at the ACC Championships. The women’s team was 10-5 (1-4 in the ACC) – its highest win total since 1988 – and finished fifth in the ACC meet.
Three Clemson swimmers earned invitations to the NCAA meet, with a pair of them named honorable mention All-America. The Tigers also had one CoSIDA Academic All-American. A total of nine Clemson records fell during the ’03-’04 campaign, seven on the men’s side plus two women’s marks. Among her other duties at Clemson, Nixon was the webmaster for its swimming and diving alumni internet site and the organizer of the Tigers’ first annual alumni meet.
Three years after graduating, Nixon remains one of the most accomplished Notre Dame student-athletes in any sport. During her time at Notre Dame, she was tabbed an All-American twice and on 10 other occasions named honorable mention All-America, with that total of 12 All-America citations standing as the most in program history. She won 18 BIG EAST titles – six individual and 12 relays – standing one shy of the Irish record for any sport. In 2000, Nixon set the NCAA record in the 50-meter free (24.99), became the first Irish swimmer to be the top qualifier in any event at the NCAA Championships, and finished fourth at the NCAA meet in the 50 free, a result that still stands as the best ever by a Notre Dame swimmer. She also was tabbed the BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Swimmer that year after finishing first in all seven of her events (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, 200 and 800 free relay, 200 and 400 medley relay), an accomplishment still unequaled in Irish history.
Nixon, who missed the 2000-01 season with a shoulder injury, remains the Notre Dame record-holder in the 50 (22.39) and 100 free (49.18), as well as the 100 butterfly (54.07). She continues to hold the 10 best times in program history in the 50 free, as well as the top nine in the 100 free. Nixon also swam on four relay teams that still hold Irish records: the 200 free (1:32.01), 400 free (3:21.25), 200 medley (1:41.93), and 400 medley (3:40.98). The BIG EAST Championships records still feature her in three events – 50 free (22.58), 200 free relay, and 400 medley relay – and her time of 22.94 in the 50 in the 1998 Notre Dame Invitational is the quickest in Rolfs Aquatic Center history, as is the 3:45.77 mark by the 400 medley relay team she anchored in the 2001 Shamrock Invitational.
Nixon, three times voted Notre Dame women’s swimming MVP, also participated in the United States Olympic Trials in 2000, taking 21st in the 50-meter freestyle and finishing in the top 40 in both the 100 free and 100 fly.
She graduated in May of 2002 from the College of Arts and Letters as a pre-professional studies/anthropology and computer applications double major. As a senior, Nixon was honored with the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award, which each year recognizes one female and one male Notre Dame student-athlete who best exemplify the spirit and leadership the University embodies in their actions and inspirations to their respective teams.
Born Sept. 20, 1978, in Montrose, Colo., Nixon graduated from Ouray High School in Ouray, Colo., as its valedictorian in 1997. She was a five-time Colorado state champion for the Montrose High School swim team, on which she competed because Ouray did not have one. She won three state championships in the 50 free and a pair in the 100 free. Nixon was named the 1996 Colorado Sportswoman of the Year and the Colorado high school swimmer of the year in ’97. Upon enrolling at Notre Dame, she held 10 state summer club records and a pair of Colorado prep records. She also set every Montrose school record except two. Nixon was recruited by a number of top collegiate swim teams, as well as various top Division I volleyball programs.
Additionally, Nixon placed 25th in the 50 free at the senior national meet in Fort Lauderdale in 1996 and was second in both the 50 and 100 in the 1997 NISCA National High School Championships.
Nixon was active in club swimming first for the Ouray Swimming Team and then for the Montrose Marlins club, coached by Silas Almgren.
Upon graduation from Notre Dame, Nixon returned to her native area and served as an assistant coach for the Ouray High School volleyball team and the Ouray club swimming team, instructing children from six to 17 years of age in the latter pursuit. She also has served as a counselor and coach at the Notre Dame summer swimming camp on four occasions (1999-2001, ’03).
Nixon will lead a program that has scored points in the NCAA meet in each of the last 10 years (and 14 of the last 16), finishing in the top 25 six times in the last nine years. Notre Dame has won nine consecutive BIG EAST titles, which is tied for the second-longest string in conference history in any sport. The Irish next season return their top competitor in all 14 individual swimming events. Additionally, four of the top five Notre Dame performers in every swimming race but two (both breaststroke events) will be back for the 2005-06 season.
Year by Year with Carrie Nixon
|As a Collegiate Swimmer|
|Year||School||Dual Record||Individual Accomplishments|
|1997-98||Notre Dame||7-1||2-time BIG EAST champion|
|1998-99||Notre Dame||7-3||5-time BIG EAST champion
|1999-00||Notre Dame||10-0||7-time BIG EAST champion
All-American (4th in 50 freestyle)
4-time HM All-American
|2000-01||Notre Dame||sat out season with shoulder injury|
|2001-02||Notre Dame||10-0||4-time BIG EAST champion
All-American (7th in 50 freestyle)
3-time HM All-American
|As a Collegiate Assistant Coach|
|Year||School||Dual Record||Team Accomplishments|
|2003-04||Clemson||men 13-2-1||4th at ACC meet
35th at NCAA meet
|women 10-5||5th at ACC meet
39th at NCAA meet
|2004-05||Notre Dame||6-3||BIG EAST champion
24th at NCAA meet
Nixon is the 26th former Notre Dame student-athlete to be hired as an Irish head coach, but just the sixth since 1965 (see complete list below). Recent members of this group include current women’s cross country coach Tim Connelly — and Dave Poulin, who stepped down last month after 10 years guiding the Irish hockey program. She is the eighth former All-American in that group, joining such legends such as Knute Rockne (football), Moose Krause (basketball), Alex Wilson (track and field) and Charles Samson (tennis). Only Nixon, Wilson (1930-31) and football’s Elmer Layden (1923-24) were multi-year All-Americans as student-athletes before becoming Notre Dame head coaches. Nixon also is just the 10th student-athlete-turned-head coach to have served as her team’s captain during her days as a student.
She joins a distinguished group of 10 other former Notre Dame student-athletes who are current head coaches on either the professional or college levels: Sandy Botham (Wisconsin-Milwaukee women’s basketball), Connelly, Christy Connoyer (Tulsa softball), Kathy Cunningham-Litzau (Wisconsin-Milwaukee women’s volleyball), Brian Kalbas (North Carolina women’s tennis), Bill Laimbeer (WNBA’s Detroit Shock), Don Lucia (Minnesota men’s ice hockey), Cory Mee (Toledo baseball), Beth Morgan-Cunningham (VCU women’s basketball) and Billy Taylor (Lehigh men’s basketball).
From Irish Student-Athlete to Head Coach
|Frank Leahy||Football||1929||1941-43, 46-53|
|Hugh Devore||Football||1931-33||1945, ’63||1933|
|Charles Samson||Tennis||1944-45, ’47||1954-56||1944||1944-45|
(women’s cross country)
|Carrie Nixon||Swimming||1998-2000, ’02||2005-present||2000, ’02||2001|
* Clem Crowe played basketball from 1923-26, but did not earn a monogram.
Note: List does not include student-athletes who also served as coaches while they were still competing.