1996-97 Season Outlook
When Bailey Weathers took over Notre Dame’s women’s swimming and divingprogram a year ago, his goal was to elevate Notre Dame to among theelite teams in the country. Just as he has done at his two previouscollegiate head coaching positions at Southern Illinois from 1985-87 andSouth Carolina from 1987-90, Weathers has set lofty, yet achievable,goals early in his tenure.
“We would really like to begin to make animpact on the national level and be recognized as the best team in theBIG EAST Conference,” says Weathers.
In his first year in 1995-96,Weathers took over a team with a solid foundation in place from TimWelsh and coached the team to a respectable third-place finish at thefirst BIG EAST championship for Notre Dame. Weathers continued the rapidprogress as he landed one of the nation’s best group of freshmen.
“Weprobably had one of the best six freshman classes in the country,” saysWeathers. “It is a freshman class we think is a lot more talented thanmany people know and may be underrated even at six.”
Weathers sees thefreshman class complementing the group of upperclassmen.
“We’ve got amuch improved team over last year,” he says. “The swimmers that we’vehad in our program last year have matured quite a bit. We are reallylooking for them to perform well with the freshmen.”
Five seniors, AmyBostick, Erin Brooks, Karen Daylor, Karen Foley and Alyssa Peterson,give Weathers a solid corps of swimmers returning for the 1996-97season.
“We are fortunate to have five seniors coming back, all of whomare strong leaders,” says Weathers. “Our two captains, Erin Brooks andAmy Bostick, have been leaders since they came to Notre Dame and will doa great job as captains of the team.”
Notre Dame’s top returningswimmer, Brooks (Millington, N.J.) begins her final campaign afterearning All-America honors in 1996 at the NCAA championships in herspecialties, the 100 and 200 backstroke. Brooks captured both events atthe BIG EAST championships and participated in the Olympic Trials in thebackstroke as well. Brooks won the 100 and 200 backstroke on 15different occasions in 1996.
“Erin Brooks, with her finishes in theNCAAs and the Olympic Trials, is probably the strongest returningswimmer that we have in the program,” says Weathers.
Bostick(Germantown, Tenn.) and Daylor (West Chester, Pa.) boosted Notre Dame’sfreestyle ranks a year ago with their performances in the sprint eventsand should repeat their performances this year.
Foley (El Paso, Texas)returns as perhaps Notre Dame’s most versatile swimmer. She competed inseven different events during the season in butterfly, backstroke andindividual medley and in both sprint and distance races.
“Karen reallywas a big help in the butterfly and the individual medley,” saysWeathers. “She is really going to be the person we put in where we needdepth and strength.”
Peterson (Apopka, Fla.), whose sister Jesslyn swamon the team before graduating last year, is another versatile swimmerfor the Irish and will give the team depth.
Juniors Courtney South(Sewickley, Pa) and Linda Gallo (Colt Neck, N.J.) are the top swimmersfor Notre Dame in the freestyle. South capped off her season with threeimpressive finishes at the BIG EAST championships by placing fifth inboth the 100 and 200 and sixth in the 50 freestyle with team andseason-best performances in those events. Gallo won 10 events last year,eight of which were freestyle events. She was also one of Notre Dame’stop finisher at the BIG EAST championships by placing third in the 1650free.
“Courtney and Linda are two of our stronger freestylists comingback,” says Weathers. “Both of them can score a lot of points at theBIG EAST championships and should play a big role for us at the NCAAs inthe relays and freestyle events.”
A pair of sophomores comprise theIrish contingent in the breaststroke. Brittany Kline (Crystal Lake,Ill.) and Becca Roedersheimer (Cincinnati, Ohio) gave Notre Dame some ofits best finishes in breaststroke last season. Kline claimed second forNotre Dame at the BIG EAST championships in the 100 breaststroke and wasfifth in the 200 breaststroke.
“We are really counting on our twosophomores to continue to give the solid results that they gave us lastyear in breaststroke,” says Weathers.
Junior Lauren Relay (River Vale,N.J.), Notre Dame’s top returning butterfly specialist, turned in twotop-five finishes at the BIG EAST championships a year ago. She placedsecond in the 200 butterfly and fourth in the 100 butterfly. Relay alsowon eight fly events during the dual meet season.
“Lauren Relay played abig role for us last year at the BIG EAST championships,” says Weathers.”We expect her to be a real strong point for us again in the fly.”
Sophomore Anna Iacobucci (Lincoln, R.I.) won six dual meet events lastyear in four different events. She also came away with three top-10finishes at the BIG EAST championships.
“Anne Iacobucci played a bigrole in the individual medley and filled in well in stroke events andmiddle distance events,” says Weathers.
Weathers unveils his first classof freshmen to enter Notre Dame. It is a class that he thinks will givethe Irish their best chances in impacting nationally.
“Our freshmanclass, along with our returning swimmers, is the base that we will buildour program on in the next five years,” says Weathers.
Highlighting thisgroup is breaststroker Shannon Suddarth (Topeka, Kan.). The six-timeKansas state champion participated in the 1996 Olympic Trials and is atwo-time YMCA national champion.
“Shannon should really be in the topeight swimmers at the NCAA championships in the 100 and 200breaststroke,” says Weathers. “She will also help us in the individualmedley and butterfly.”
Allison Hollis (Aurora, Colo.) should team withBrooks to form a powerful backstroke team. Hollis placed 17th at theOlympic Trials in the 200 backstroke and was 12th at the U.S. nationalchampionships in the 200 backstroke.
Molly Beeler (Granger, Ind.) isanother backstroker who should give Notre Dame solid results and hasqualified for the senior nationals in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
“Allison and Molly should challenge Erin Brooks quite a bit and bothshould help us at the NCAA championships in the backstroke,” saysWeathers.
Notre Dame will get the most help from the freshmen inbutterfly with the addition of Elizabeth Barger (Littleton, Colo.) andAlison Newell (Parker, Colo.). Both were outstanding high schoolswimmers in Colorado, sharing swimmer of the year honors.
“ElizabethBarger and Alison Newell are both excellent butterflyers and seniornational level swimmers,” says Weather. “They will bring more speed tothe butterfly which is where we struggled last year on our relays. Either one of the two will really stand up and help us to send ourmedley relay teams to the NCAAs.”
Leticia Herrera (Universal City,Texas) and Natalie Najarian (Troy, Mich.) also will give the Irish depthin butterfly.
After the loss of Liane Gallagher to graduation,second-year diving coach Caiming Xie expects his first group of diversto enter Notre Dame and make immediate contributions. A pair offreshmen, Gina Kettelhohn (Brown Deer, Wis.) and Rhiana Saunders (TheWoodlands, Texas), bring a lot of talent to Notre Dame. Kettelhohnbecame the first female in Wisconsin history to win four divingchampionships and was second at the YMCA championships. Saunders was afive-time zone qualifier and received All-America scores in high school.
“These two divers should contribute a lot and should score big pointsfor us at the BIG EAST championships and hopefully advance to the NCAAchampionships,” says Xie.
Sophomore Kelly Crowhurst (Lockport, Ill.)should give the Irish depth in diving.
The talent of the freshmen andthe maturity and experience of the upperclassmen has Weathers confidentabout the 1996-97 season.
“We think that we are one of the top two teamsin BIG EAST and we have a realistic goal of being in the top 20 incountry,” says Weathers. “This will be a big step for our program.”