March 8, 2004
Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) became the 10th Irish freshman since 1997 to earn a bid to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships when the field was announced for this year’s event on Friday. Carroll, named the Most Outstanding Swimmer at last month’s conference meet, is one of just four student-athletes ever to win three BIG EAST titles as a freshman. She will compete in the 100-yard freestyle and the 200 and 400 individual medleys in the NCAAs, set for March 18-20 in College Station, Texas.
Carroll was the only Irish swimmer to earn a spot in the field, extending Notre Dame’s streak of consecutive years with a qualifier to nine. Since 1990, 22 different Irish swimmers and divers have garnered a total of 46 invitations to the NCAA Championships, with Notre Dame being unrepresented only in ’95. Ten of those berths have gone to rookies.
A pair of Notre Dame seniors, Lisa Garcia (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) and Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa./Germantown Academy), just missed the 281-swimmer field, but are among the 21 alternates to the field. Garcia is the ninth alternate, while Labosky is 11th.
The Irish have a chance to get one more qualifier this weekend, when senior Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.) takes part in the NCAA Zone C Diving Meet Friday and Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. The top finishers from that event move on to the NCAA Championships.
Carroll secured her berth with an NCAA “A” cut of 2:00.65 in winning the 200 IM at the BIG EAST meet, setting school and conference records. Her time ranks 22nd among NCAA qualifiers in the race. Carroll’s seed time of 50.14 in the 100 free ranks 34th, while her 4:17.85 in the 400 IM stands 35th even though she did not swim the race at the BIG EAST Championships, instead taking first in the 100 butterfly and also garnering an NCAA “B” time in that event.
Garcia was two places from getting a spot in the NCAA Championships via her 200 IM time of 2:01.77, which ranks 40th in the nation. An NCAA participant in 2002 and ’03, Garcia was named honorable mention All-America last year for a 14th-place finish in the 200 butterfly that set a school record. She finished her BIG EAST career never finishing worse than fifth in 12 individual races over her four years, including two wins and six runner-up finishes (200 IM and 200 fly in ’04).
Labosky missed a spot in the NCAAs by .07 seconds in the 200 backstroke. She took second in the BIG EAST meet with a time of 1:59.33, which ranks 36th in the College Quick 50 and was just three places behind the last invitee in the event, Pacific’s Sarah Marshall (1:59.26). Labosky, a three-time conference champion including each of the last two years in the 400 IM, ranks 48th in the College Quick 50 in that race, for which she holds the Notre Dame record. She is a three-time NCAA qualifier, gaining honorable mention All-America status in 2001 by finishing 11th in the 400 IM.
Perry-Eaton, the BIG EAST’s Most Outstanding Diver each of the last two years, finished ninth off the one-meter board in last year’s NCAA Championships to be named honorable mention All-America. She has three BIG EAST titles over the last two years (both events this year and one-meter diving in ’03), making her the only non-University of Miami diver since 1996 to win an event in the conference meet.
The school recordholder in both one- (six dives) and three-meter diving (six and 11 dives), Perry-Eaton is undefeated this season in three-meter diving, besting 11 teams in dual-meet competition and claiming titles in the Texas A&M Invitational, Notre Dame Invitational, Michigan Invitational, and BIG EAST Championships. She has been beaten just once off the one-meter board in 2003-04, by Michigan’s Tealin Keleman in her home invitational.
Carroll is one of eight BIG EAST swimmers to gain entrance to the NCAAs, while 16 different foes faced by the Irish in 2003-04 had at least one qualifier.
Defending national champion Auburn led the way with 18 swimmers earning invitations, while Georgia (17), Florida (16), California (15), Texas (15), Indiana (13), Stanford (13), and UCLA (12) were close behind. A total of 62 schools had at least one swimmer gain entrance to the meet.