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No. 20 Irish Poised To Win Eighth Straight BIG EAST Title

Feb. 21, 2004


EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team used a strong Saturday morning performance to qualify 16 swimmers for the evening – including 10 in championship finals – and mathematically clinch its eighth consecutive title at the BIG EAST Championships in the Nassau County Aquatic Center. The Irish had a pair of top qualifiers: senior Lisa Garcia (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.) in the 200 butterfly and freshman Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) in the 100 freestyle. Carroll will try to become just the fourth freshman in conference history to win three individual races in the BIG EAST Championships.

Carroll, already the champion of the 200 individual medley and 100 fly, posted a season-best time of 50.66 in the 100 free on Saturday. It was 0.35 seconds quicker than the No. 2 qualifier. Carroll posted an NCAA “A” time in the 200 IM en route to breaking the school and meet records on Thursday, meaning she has an automatic bid to next month’s NCAA Championships. She has “B” times in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 400 IM, which will allow her to swim in two of those in the NCAAs, as well.

Garcia was the top qualifier in the 200 fly with a season-best time of 2:00.93 in an event she won at last year’s BIG EAST meet. A two-time top-20 finisher in the NCAAs in the 200 fly, she posted her second “B” time of the meet, meaning she will be considered for a return trip to the NCAAs. Garcia, the school recordholder and an honorable mention All-American in ’03, finished second in the conference as a freshman and sophomore prior to last year’s victory. She was second to Carroll in the 200 IM on Thursday and fourth in the 100 fly on Friday, continuing her remarkable record in the BIG EAST meet. Garcia has finished no worse than fifth in 11 career individual races in the conference meet, highlighted by a pair of victories (200 IM and 200 fly in ’03) and five runner-up results.

Notre Dame had the second-fastest qualifier in each of the other two events contested Saturday morning. Senior Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa./Germantown Academy), a three-time NCAA qualifier, was second to defending champion Kelly Harrigan of Rutgers in the 200 back. The fifth-place finisher in 2003 in her first time swimming the event at the conference meet, Labosky improved upon her season best with a 2:00.04, an NCAA “B” cut. Labosky registered her third career BIG EAST title – and second in as many years in the event – on Friday in the 400 IM. She has eight top-six finishes in her career at the conference championships.

Junior Georgia Healey (New York, N.Y./Trinity School) posted a time of 2:18.33 in being the second-quickest qualifier in the 200 breaststroke, an event in which she finished fourth in this meet in 2002. Her Saturday time was 3.31 seconds quicker than her previous season best.

Two other Irish swimmers – freshman Jessica Stephens (Bloomsburg, Pa./Bloomsburg H.S.) and sophomore Courtney Choura (Bridgeville, Pa./Oakland Catholic H.S.) – will join Healey in the championship final of the 200 breast. Stephens improved on her season best by 2.06 seconds to be third, while Choura, who was seventh in last year’s BIG EAST meet, qualified in that spot in 2:20.55.

Junior Brooke Taylor (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Preparatory School), who was third in the race at last year’s meet after finishing sixth as a freshman, posted a season-best time of 2:02.67 in qualifying third in the 200 butterfly. She headed into the week ranking 20th in this year’s BIG EAST top times list in the event.

Senior Danielle Hulick (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S.) earned a spot in the 100 free championship final by qualifying fifth in a season-best 51.31.

The 200 back was Notre Dame’s best event, as it saw Irish swimmers take six of the top 11 spots. Freshman Ann Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain H.S.) was fifth with a time of 2:01.72. It was her third “B” cut of the meet, after posting others in finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the 200 free (with a time that would have been third in the championship final).

Freshman Ellen Johnson (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) grabbed the last spot in the championship final from three of her teammates with an eighth-place time of 2:03.10. Freshman Kiley Gooch (Carmel, Ind./Carmel H.S.) was just .05 seconds behind in ninth place after improving on her seed time – which was 21st in the league – by nearly three seconds. Junior Sarah Alwen (Cairo, Egypt/Cairo American College) was 10th with a season-best time of 2:03.29, while junior Kristen Peterson (Wichita, Kan./Bishop Carooll H.S.) improved nearly three seconds on her 24th-best seed time to be 11th in 2:03.48

Junior Kelli Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral H.S.) missed the championship final of the 200 breast by .18 seconds, qualifying ninth in 2:20.94. Senior co-captain Laurie Musgrave (Littleton, Colo./Arapahoe H.S.) also will be in that consolation final after ranking 15th with a time of 2:23.83.

Junior Katie Eckholt (Omaha, Neb./Marian H.S.) also will be in action on Saturday evening. She was 16th in the 100 free in a season-best 52.49.

Freshman Annie Sweeney (Los Gatos, Calif./Archbishop Mitty H.S.) registered a season-best 2:25.00, but missed the consolation final in the 200 breast, finishing 18th.

Freshman Rebecca Grove (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown H.S.) was 19th in the 200 back in 2:05.99.

After the 200 back, Johnson jumped right back in the pool and finished 21st in the 100 free in 53.00. Also in that race, freshman Krissy Archer (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory H.S.) was 24th with a season-best 53.22 and Meghan Linnelli (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield H.S.), another rookie, finished 27th with a time of 53.41.

In the 200 fly, senior Lisa D’Olier (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek H.S.) finished 20th in a season-best time of 2:08.17, while sophomore Christel Bouvron (Singapore, Singapore/Raffles Girls’ Secondary School) was 22nd in 2:09.42, sophomore Annie Mantey (Albany, N.Y./Onteara H.S.) took 25th in 2:10.26, and Gooch, swimming her second event of the day, was 26th in 2:11.48.

Friday evening will feature not only the finals of the four races that had morning preliminaries, but also timed finals of the 1650 freestyle and the 400 free relay. Each individual swimming race (except the 1650 free) has a final featuring the top eight competitors from prelims, as well as a consolation final featuring the next eight. Anyone swimming at night scores points for her team. All teams with at least four student-athletes qualified for the meet may field one relay team in every race. Those are contested only at night and in two heats: one with the teams holding the top six times from the regular season and one with all other teams.

After two days of competition, Notre Dame had 503.5 points, while second-place Rutgers had 419. The Scarlet Knights qualified just five swimmers for Saturday’s finals, leaving them mathematically out of catching the Irish.