Feb. 20, 2004
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – The 20th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team will have 19 swims in the five individual swimming finals slated for Friday evening after a strong morning of competition at the BIG EAST Championships in the Nassau County Aquatic Center. Thirteen competitors will take part in the championship finals, led by senior Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa./Germantown Academy) and freshman Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy), who were the top qualifiers in the 400 individual medley and 100 butterfly, respectively.
Labosky, the defending conference champion and a three-time NCAA qualifier in the event, finished more than three seconds ahead of her closest competitor with a time of 4:19.81. She also holds the Notre Dame record in the race.
After setting Notre Dame and BIG EAST Championships records and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships en route to winning the 200 individual medley on Thursday evening, Carroll continued her fast swimming by leading all qualifiers in the 100 fly with a time of 55.18, which was .36 seconds better than the second-fastest mark. The time was good enough for a “B” cut, which means she will have the option of swimming the event at the NCAAs. Carroll also has “B” times in the 100 free and 400 IM, but she will be permitted to swim only three races (and one must be an event in which she holds an “A” time) at the meet.
The Irish will have four student-athletes in that championship final. Joining Carroll are sophomore Christel Bouvron (Singapore, Singapore/Raffles Girls’ Secondary School), senior Lisa Garcia (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek H.S.), and freshman Jessica Stephens (Bloomsburg, Pa./Bloomsburg H.S.), who all registered season bests. Bouvron qualified fourth with a time of 55.78, while Garcia was just .03 seconds behind at 55.81. The senior has finished in the top five in the race in each of the last three years and is a two-time NCAA participant in the event. Stephens was 22nd in the conference in the 100 fly prior to the meet, but she cut 1.36 seconds off her time to qualify seventh in 55.98.
The 100 backstroke will have three Notre Dame swimmers in its final. Freshman Rebecca Grove (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown H.S.) was the top Irish qualifier, coming in third in 56.75. It was her second NCAA “B” time in as many days, after she finished third in the 50 free on Thursday. Senior Danielle Hulick (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S.), second in the 50 free, also turned in her second “B” time of the meet, qualifying fifth in the 100 back with a time of 56.80. The school recordholder and an NCAA qualifier last year, she finished second in the conference meet as a freshman and third in ’02. Alwen, who came in ranking 19th in the conference in the event, posted the seventh-best time, a 57.29. She finished sixth a year ago after being 10th as a freshman.
Notre Dame has a pair in the 100 breaststroke final: sophomore Courtney Choura (Bridgeville, Pa./Oakland Catholic H.S.) and junior Georgia Healey (New York, N.Y./Trinity School). Choura, who was the conference runner-up in 2003, qualified third in a season-best time of 1:04.13, while Healey turned in her best time of 2003-04 (1:04.57) in coming in seventh and earning a spot in the championship final for the first time, after competing in the consolation final the last two years.
Freshman Ellen Johnson (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy) led the Irish in the 200 freestyle, qualifying third in a time of 1:50.56.
Labosky will be joined in tonight’s 400 IM final by juniors Brooke Taylor (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Preparatory School) and Kelli Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral H.S.). Taylor, who was eighth in the event last year after a ninth-place finish in 2002, cut nearly eight seconds off her season-best time to qualify fourth in 4:23.57. Heading into the meet, she ranked 27th in the conference – and seventh on the Irish – in the race. The time was an NCAA “B” cut, meaning she will be considered for a berth in next month’s NCAA Championships. Barton, who was eighth in this race in 2002, also registered a season best in qualifying sixth with a time of 4:24.63.
Freshman Ann Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain H.S.) and junior Sarah Alwen (Cairo, Egypt/Cairo American College) earned spots in the consolation final of the 200 free. Barton was 12th in 1:52.40, while Alwen, who was 11th a year ago, qualified 15th with a time of 1:53.22.
Stephens and classmate Annie Sweeney (Los Gatos, Calif./Archbishop Mitty H.S.) will compete in the 100 breast consolation final, while senior Laurie Musgrave (Littleton, Colo./Arapahoe H.S.) missed by .12 seconds. Sweeney was 21st on the conference top times list, but qualified 13th in 1:05.25, which was 1.79 seconds quicker than her seed time. Stephens was right behind in 14th, going a season-best 1:05.31, while Musgrave qualified 17th in 1:05.69.
Freshman Kiley Gooch (Carmel, Ind./Carmel H.S.), who was 25th in the 400 IM on the BIG EAST top times list prior to the meet, turned in a season best by more than seven seconds in posting the ninth-quickest prelim time, 4:28.37, to gain a spot in the consolation final.
Junior Kristen Peterson (Wichita, Kan./Bishop Carroll H.S.) knocked nearly a second off her seed time in qualifying 12th in the 100 back and earning a chance to swim again in the evening. She was 20th on the top times list heading into the meet.
After the 400 IM, Taylor jumped right back in the pool for the 100 fly and managed to post a season-best time of 57.19 in taking 20th. Senior Lisa D’Olier (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek H.S.) finished 22nd in 57.90, while sophomore Annie Mantey (Albany, N.Y./Onteara H.S.) was 26th in 58.12.
Freshman Meghan Linnelli (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield H.S.) was 27th in the 200 free in 1:55.52.
Freshman Abby Strang (St. Simons Island, Ga./The Bolles School) finished 28th in the 400 IM with a time of 4:42.55.
Friday afternoon also featured the preliminaries of the women’s three-meter diving. The top eight from that competition advance to the evening final.
After the first day of action, Rutgers stood in first place with 204 points, while Notre Dame was second with 199. The Scarlet Knights will have just 10 swims, including five in championship finals, on Friday evening. Notre Dame (19 total swims, 13 in championship finals), Virginia Tech (12, 6), and Pittsburgh (11, 6) all have more opportunities for points on the second day of competition than the meet leaders. After one day, the Hokies were third with 180.5 points, while the Panthers were seventh with 82.
Friday’s finals will feature the six events that had preliminaries, as well as the 200 medley and 800 free relays. Each individual swimming race 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. In diving, the top eight advance to the finals, but the next eight also score points based on their preliminary totals. 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. Notre Dame is seeded fifth in the 200 medley with a time of 1:46.70 and second in the 800 ree in 7:29.61. The Irish have won each of the last eight BIG EAST titles, triumphing by at least 113.5 points each year.