Jan. 18, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team got back on track Friday evening as they dominated BIG EAST competitor Louisville, 188-111 for the win, bumping the Irish up to 3-5 in dual meet action. The night was filled with fast times, exciting races and victories for Notre Dame as they start to prepare for the BIG EAST Championships in mid-February. The Irish continue to be undefeated against Louisville in sport history, with an overall record of 3-0 against the Cardinals.
“I thought we did very well as a team,” head coach Carrie Nixon said. “We fought hard. It was first Big East test of the season at home and four weeks out of the meet it was a great setup for us to win our twelfth title.”
Christa Riggins was a main competitor for Notre Dame as she went on to win four events throughout the competition.
“I’m really happy to swimming this fast before Big East,” Riggins said. “It gives me some confidence going into the big season meet.”
Notre Dame’s Caroline Johnson gained an early lead for Notre Dame in the 200 medley relay while the remaining Cardinal and Irish relays were vying for second. A strong pullout kept the lead alive for the Irish as Therese Bergstrom of Louisville made a run at second. Louisville made a slight close on the gap during the butterfly leg, but Notre Dame’s Amywren Miller and Christa Riggins maintained the lead during the second half of the relay for an Irish victory by almost two seconds.
A tight race for third became clear during the anchor leg of the relay between Notre Dame’s Casey Wagner and Louisville’s Liz Halet. Halet had a slight lead going into the last turn and eventually out-touched Wagner for third place.
Claire Hutchinson and Lauren Sylvester took early first and second place leads for the Irish in the 1,000 freestyle. At the half-way point, Louisville’s Amanda Henleben trailed second by 15 yards and the Notre Dame’s Zeina Shanata began to contend with the Louisville’s Laura Clark. The final 100 yards showed significant separation between competitors as Clark had moved into a secure fourth place position. Hutchinson and Sylvester scored finished the race in first and second respectively.
On the last lap of the 200 freestyle, three separate contentions developed between Irish and Cardinal swimmers across the pool. In the lead were Notre Dame’s Christa Riggins and Louisville’s Leslie Vanwinkle. The battle for the last 50 soon turned in Riggins’ favor and she showed a clear lead off the final turn and finished in first for the Irish.
After the completion of the 50 yards, Irish swimmer Lauren Parisi gained a minor lead off the wall in the 100 backstroke. Coming out of the final turn, Maggie Behrens shifted into second ahead of the Cardinals’ Whitney Campbell. Behrens expanded her lead over Campbell and the Irish took a 1-2 finish.
Sam Maxwell gained a lead which she held after the first 50 in the 100 breastroke. Louisville swimmers Therese Bergstrom and Johann Nyysti pursued her first place position from both sides, but Maxwell maintained a comfortable lead until the completion of the race.
The 200 butterfly was dominated by Irish swimmers. At the half Claire Hutchinson, Katie Casey and Megan Farrell were in clear control of first, second, and third, respectively. Notre Dame’s flyers maintained command of the race and ended with a one-two-three finish.
Heading into the turn there was clear evidence of a pack leader in the 50 freestyle. Amywren Miller and Caroline Johnson struggled on behalf of the fighting Irish against Nicole Landisch and Anna Dishuck during the final stretch. Miller managed to gain a slight lead crossing under the flags and earned gold for Notre Dame. Landisch and Dishuck nearly tied finishing one hundredth of a second apart attaining second and third for Louisville, respectively.
Notre Dame’s Christa Riggins and Amywren Miller gave the Irish an initial small but distinct lead in the 100 freestyle. The managed to fend off Liz Halet of Louisville to seal up the one-two finish for the Irish.
At the halfway point of the 200 backstroke, Louisville’s Leslie Vanwinkle had the lead. Notre Dame’s Lauren Parisi came from behind and evened up with Vanwinkle going into the final lap. Off the last wall, Parisi came out slightly ahead. The battle for first continued on the last length and ended with Parisi edging out Vanwinkle for the gold.
Samantha Maxwell won the opening pullout by about two feet in the 200 breaststroke. At the half, Maxwell was being evenly pursued by Therese Bergstrom and Anna Dishuck of Louisville as she maintained a small advantage. At the 150, Dishuck began to fall behind in the chase as Bergstrom continued to place pressure on Maxwell. In the meantime Katie Hopkins moved into fifth place for the Irish over the Cardinals’ Kristi Eramo. Maxwell’s victories in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke came in back to back weekends with her title winning performances last weekend.
After the opening 100 yards of the 500 freestyle, three Irish swimmers had a 5-yard lead over their closest Cardinal competitor. By the half, the lead was expanded to half of the pool’s length with Casey Wagner taking charge for the Irish. Notre Dame claimed a 1-2-3 victory with Wagner finishing almost a full length ahead her Cardinal contender.
After the butterfly leg of the 200 IM, Notre Dame’s Megan Farrell had a small advantage with three Louisville swimmers in a race for second. Farrell expanded her lead during the backstroke portion of the race. During the breaststroke leg, Louisville’s Leslie Vanwinkle began to quickly close the gap on Farrell. Vanwinkle carried this momentum into the freestyle where she continued to move ahead of Farrell. Farrell finished in second while Louisville claimed third, fourth and fifth place finishes as well.
Notre Dame got off to an early lead with the breakout speed of Christa Riggins in the 200-freestyle relay. With Louisville’s A relay safely behind in second, Cardinal swimmer Whitney Campbell and Notre Dame’s Delia Cronin entered the waters even on the final lap to battle for third place. Cronin came out on top and assisted the Irish in locking up first and third place finishes.
Notre Dame is back in action tomorrow as they travel to take on the Toledo Rockets at Toledo.