June 2, 2004
Senior diver Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.) headlined the awardwinners at the annual Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team banquet, held recently. Perry-Eaton became the first diver to be named team MVP after a season in which she earned All-America honors for finishing third in the NCAA Championships in one-meter diving, marking the best-ever finish for an Irish competitor in the meet.
Five other awards were handed out at the banquet. Senior Danielle Hulick (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S.) won the Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award, presented by the Notre Dame Club of Saint Joseph Valley. Sophomore Samantha Raneri (Katonah, N.Y./John Jay H.S.) garnered the Most Improved Award, while freshmen Krissy Archer (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory H.S.) and Ellen Johnson (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) became the first co-winners of the Meghan Beeler & Colleen Hipp Award. Additionally, freshman Abby Strang (St. Simons Island, Ga./The Bolles School) earned the Captains Award and Hulick and senior co-captain Lisa Garcia (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) shared the Most Honorable Award.
Perry-Eaton, who will return in 2004-05 for a fifth year of competition after missing most of her freshman campaign with a back injury, finished just 3.30 points behind the NCAA champion off the one-meter board to become the second Irish diver ever to be named an All-American. She became the first Notre Dame student-athlete ever to finish first in the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships, doing so in the one-meter competition. Perry-Eaton was victorious off both boards in the BIG EAST Championships – by more than 40 points in each event – to be named its Most Outstanding Diver for the second year in a row. Prior to the NCAA zone meet, she had been beaten only once all season in either springboard competition. Perry-Eaton defeated 11 teams in dual-meet action and was first at the Texas A&M Invitational, Notre Dame Invitational, Michigan Invitational and the BIG EAST meet in three-meter diving. Her only defeat off the lower board came against Michigan’s Tealin Keleman at the Wolverines’ home invitational. Perry-Eaton then beat Keleman in three rematches in the one-meter competition. The Irish senior, who owns three of Notre Dame’s diving school records, broke her own six-dive mark off the three-meter board with a score of 335.85 in the Michigan Invitational. She also holds the Irish records for 11 dives off the three-meter board (586.43) and for six dives in one-meter competition (331.58), as well as the Rolfs Aquatic Center records for six dives off both boards (322.64 in 1m, 333.82 in 3m).
Hulick won the Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the top academic performer on the Irish. She holds a 3.473 cumulative grade-point average as an anthropology major in the College of Arts & Letters. She leaves Notre Dame as the school recordholder in the 100-yard backstroke (54.83), while also being part of the quickest 200- (1:32.01) and 400-yard freestyle (3:21.25) relay teams in Irish history. During her career, Hulick won seven BIG EAST titles: the 50 freestyle in ’03, three in the 200 free relay, and one each in the 400 free, 200 medley, and 400 medley relays. She also earned all-BIG EAST honors on 13 occasions, including four times in 2004. The conference-champion 400 medley relay team in 2001 in which she swam the backstroke leg set a BIG EAST Championships meet record. In 2003, Hulick qualified for the NCAA Championships and finished in the top 30 in both backstroke events. This season, she was Notre Dame’s top performer in both the 50 free and 100 back, and she scored 80.5 points at the conference meet, the second-highest total on the team.
Raneri is the fourth Irish diver to win the Most Improved Award, joining Angela Gugle (1992), Marsha Powers (1994), and Karli Richards (2000). The honor is awarded by the coaching staff to the swimmer or diver who has shown the most improvement over the entire season. She was Notre Dame’s second-best diver in 2003-04, qualifying for the BIG EAST Championships for the first time and finishing 14th off the one-meter board to contribute three points to Notre Dame’s eighth consecutive conference title. Raneri, who has been diving for just four years, posted a career-best mark of 240.08 at North Carolina State. She also delivered her season-high score in the three-meter competition (218.70) in that meet.
The Beeler-Hipp Award is presented to an outstanding freshman who best exemplifies the vitality, competitiveness, and love for Notre Dame shown by Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp in their freshman year prior to their deaths in a bus accident in 1992. The award honors the 1991-92 Irish men’s and women’s teams for their courage, discipline, and love for one another. Archer qualified for the BIG EAST meet and finished 24th in the 100 freestyle and 28th in the 50 free. Her season-best time of 24.35 in the latter event was fifth-best on the team, while her 53.22 in the longer race ranked eighth. Johnson was among the top five Irish swimmers in six different events. She earned all-BIG EAST honors for runner-up finishes in both the 400 and 800 free relays, leading off the latter quartet that set a Notre Dame record with a time of 7:20.12. In individual competition, Johnson had the third-quickest time in prelims and finished sixth in the 200 freestyle and took eighth in the 200 backstroke. She managed NCAA “B” cut times in both of those events, but did not earn a spot in the NCAA Championships. Johnson’s converted time of 1:50.38 in the 200 free was the top mark by a Notre Dame competitor in that event, while her converted 2:01.29 in the 200 back ranked second on the team. She also was among the team’s top five in her other four events, ranking third in the 500 free, fourth in the 100 and 1000 free, and fifth in the 100 back.
The Captains Award is doled out by the team captains – Garcia and Laurie Musgrave (Littleton, Colo./Arapahoe H.S.) in 2003-04 – to the individual who performs well both in and out of the pool in pressure situations and best exemplifies the term “teammate.” Strang ranked among the top three swimmers on the Irish in the three longest freestyle events, scoring five points with a 12th-place finish in the 1650 at the BIG EAST Championships. Her time of 17:13.06 was the second best by an Irish swimmer all season. Her top 1000-yard time was 10:15.14, which ranked third on the team, while her converted time of 4:59.85 in the 500 was fourth-quickest among Notre Dame student-athletes.
The Most Honorable Award is given by the coaching staff and team captains to the swimmer or diver who best represents the Notre Dame image as a supportive, inspiring, enthusiastic team member. Garcia completed a career in which her accomplishments and awards were numerous. She was twice named honorable mention All-America, in the 400 free relay in 2002 and the 200 butterfly in ’03. Garcia holds the school record in the 200 fly (1:58.39) and was a member of the 800 free relay team that set an Irish record in the BIG EAST meet. She won a pair of conference titles in ’03, the 200 fly and 200 IM, setting a BIG EAST Championships record in the latter. Garcia scored 49 points in individual events in the ’04 BIG EAST meet, the second-highest total on the team. She finished second in both the 200 IM and the 200 fly and took fourth in the 100 fly to finish a brilliant BIG EAST career, in which she finished no lower than fifth in her 12 individual races. Garcia earned all-BIG EAST honors three more times to bring her career total to 11. She was Notre Dame’s top performer in the 200 fly in 2003-04 and ranked second in the 200 IM (2:01.77), third in the 100 fly (55.55), and fifth in the 200 free (1:52.57).
Notre Dame won its eighth consecutive BIG EAST title in 2003-04 and went on to finish 25th in the NCAA Championships. The Irish finished first in both the Dennis Stark Relays and the Notre Dame Invitational and went 8-2 in dual-meet action, ending up 20th in the final College Swim Coaches Association (CSCAA) dual-meet national rankings. The Irish lose seven seniors to graduation, but will return their top competitor in 11 of 16 individual events next season, and four of the top five performers in every event but one will be back for the 2004-05 season.