March 19, 2004
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) became the first Notre Dame freshman ever to advance to the finals of two individual events in the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Friday morning in the Student Rec Center Natatorium. After taking ninth in the 200-meter individual medley on Thursday, Carroll was the 13th-fastest qualifier in the 400 IM on Friday, breaking the school record and earning a spot in the consolation final. The evening session will begin a 7 p.m. (CST).
Carroll finished with a time of 4:42.74, which converts to a yards time of 4:13.33 and breaks the school record of 4:14.47 set by Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa./Germantown Academy) in 2002. The time was more than five seconds faster than Carroll’s previous season best, a 4:47.79 in short-course meters in the finals of the Texas A&M Invitational.
Carroll’s seed time placed her 35th on the psyche sheet heading into Friday, marking the second day in a row she improved considerably upon her seeding. She was seeded 22nd in the 200 IM, but went on to qualify 11th and finish ninth, posting the sixth-best time in the evening finals.
The top seed of the consolation final will be Indiana’s Brooke Taflinger, who was 14th a year ago and had a time of 4:41.32 on Friday. Also competing in the consolation final will be Hoosiers Erin Gorlesky (10th, 4:42.05 in prelims) and Kristen Bradley (12th, 4:42.54), Georgia’s Melissa Klein (11th, 4:42.12), Andrea Cassidy of SMU (14th, 4:43.26), Laura Davis of Stanford (15th, 4:43.30), and Florida’s Ashley Carusone (16th, 4:43.52).
All eight swimmers in the consolation final will be named honorable mention All-America for the 400 IM.
Kaitlin Sandeno of USC, who was third in the 400 IM in ’03 and broke the NCAA record in winning the 200 IM on Thursday, was the top qualifier with a time of 4:34.74. Last year’s runner-up, Emily Mason of Arizona, was second in 4:35.85.
Prior to this year, only seven times had an Irish student-athlete qualified for the evening finals in more than one individual event in the same NCAA meet. The four Notre Dame competitors to have accomplished the feat before were Erin Brooks (100 back and 200 back in 1996), Shannon Suddarth (100 breast and 200 breast in 1998 and 2000), Carrie Nixon (50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly in 2000; 50 free and 100 free in 2002), and Heather Mattingly (1-meter and 3-meter diving in 2000 and ’02).
Carroll joined Labosky and Tanya Williams as the only Notre Dame swimmers ever to reach the finals in the 400 IM. Labosky finished 11th in 2001, while Williams was 11th in 1990 and eighth in ’91.
Irish senior Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.) finished her 2003-04 season Friday morning, taking 28th in three-meter diving with a score of 260.60. Perry-Eaton was undefeated in the event prior to last weekend, defeating 11 teams in dual-meet action and taking first in the Texas A&M Invitational, Notre Dame Invitational, Michigan Invitational, and BIG EAST Championships. She finished sixth in the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships. In 2003, Perry-Eaton was 20th in the event.
On Thursday, Perry-Eaton took third in one-meter diving, notching the highest-ever finish for a Notre Dame student-athlete in the NCAA Championships. She earned All-America honors for that performance, which saw her end just 3.30 points behind the champion. Perry-Eaton was named the BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Diver for the second consecutive year after sweeping the springboard competitions. The holder of three Notre Dame records, she could apply for a fifth year of eligibility after taking part in just two events as a freshman before suffering a season-ending back injury.
Heading into the day two finals, defending national champion #1 Auburn leads the NCAA Championships with 188 points, while #2 Georgia is second with 135. The 20th-ranked Irish, at 17th, are ahead of nine teams ranked in the final CSCAA national rankings, including four higher-ranked squads. Ranked teams behind Notre Dame after day one were #10 SMU (20th), #14 Maryland (T-23rd), #15 North Carolina (0 points), #18 Florida State (T-18th), #19 Virginia (T-29th), #21 Missouri (0 points), #23 Princeton (0 points), #24 Hawaii (22nd), and #25 Minnesota (0 points).
Notre Dame’s 25 points on the first day were more than twice the total Irish student-athletes managed last year. In 2003, Notre Dame tied for 33rd with 12 points.
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 (200 IM, 100 fly, 100 free). Carroll holds the top time on the Irish in five events this season (100 free, 500 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, 400 IM) and is third in two others (50 free, 200 free). She set a school record in finishing ninth in the 200 IM on Thursday and being named honorable mention All-America.