March 20, 2002
Austin, Texas – The University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team is sending nine swimmers to the 2002 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday-Saturday, March 21-23 in Austin, Texas. The nine swimmers mark the most participants Notre Dame has sent to the national meet in a single season. The previous high was seven in 1999.
Competition begins Thursday for six Irish swimmers as preliminaries start at 11:00 a.m. CST and finals begin at 7:00 p.m. each night. Freshman Kelli Barton, competing in her first NCAA meet, will get things started for Notre Dame in the 500-yard freestyle. Sophomores Marie Labosky and Lisa Garcia will both swim in the preliminaries of the 200 individual medley. Last season, Labosky placed 20th in the event at nationals, while Garcia is making her first appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Senior Carrie Nixon then returns to the NCAA meet after missing the 2001 season with a shoulder injury. Nixon, the most decorated swimmer in Notre Dame history is appearing in her fourth NCAA meet and starts the championship with her best event, the 50 freestyle, in which she earned All-America honors after placing fourth in 2000. Nixon enters the meet with the 10th fastest time in the nation in ’02 at 22.73.
Nixon will have to recover quickly however as she will anchor the 400-medley relay team. Senior Kelly Hecking, swimming in her fourth NCAA Championship, will swim the backstroke leg, followed by senior Allison Lloyd on the breaststroke leg and sophomore Lisa D’Olier on the butterfly leg, before touching off to Nixon. Notre Dame comes into the meet with the 12th fastest time in the nation at 3:40.98
The same foursome will begin Friday’s competition in the 200-medley relay. Labosky will then compete in her strongest event, the 400 individual medley, in which she placed 12th last season in earning honorable mention All-America honors. Labosky comes into the race with the 13th quickest time nationally. Barton also will compete in the 400 IM.
The Irish will be strong in the 100 butterfly race as both Garcia and D’Olier will compete. Lloyd, participating in her second NCAA meet, will swim her first individual event of the weekend, competing in the 100 breaststroke. Hecking and freshman Kristen Peterson compete in the 100 backstroke on Friday and senior diver Heather Mattingly will try to earn her third All-America citation in the three-meter diving competition. Mattingly is the only diver in Notre Dame history to compete at the NCAA Championships all four years of her career.
On Saturday, Barton and Labosky close out their NCAA meet by swimming the 1650 freestyle. Hecking and Peterson, competing in her first NCAA Championships, swim the 200 backstroke, followed by Nixon in the 100 freestyle. Nixon has the 17th fastest time coming into the meet. Lloyd will compete in her final race as an Irish swimmer in the 200 breaststroke, before Garcia and D’Olier finish out the meet for the Irish in the 200 butterfly.
Notre Dame results will be available daily on www.und.com. Complete results of the 2002 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be available at www.texassports.com.