Dec. 18, 2000

The University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team has announced three additions to the program that will begin competition in the fall of 2001. Kelli Barton (Scottsdale, Az.), Katie Eckholt (Omaha, Neb.) and Brooke Taylor (Orlando, Fla.) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame and begin competition next season.

Barton boasts top times of 4:57.6 in the 500 freestyle, 16:39.8 in the 1,650 freestyle and 4:25.7 in the 400 individual medley. She is out of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Az., and also swims for the Sun Devil Aquatics swim club.

“I think Kelly really adds a lot to our distance program,” Irish head coach Bailey Weathers says.

“She will help replace the loss of (senior) Kristen Van Saun. Kelly has been as fast in high school as anyone we have had since Linda Gallo (1995-1998, school record holder in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle) was here. I really expect her to swim faster than that even before she gets here. I think she will be someone who can come in and get to the NCAA championship meet for us. She also is able to swim some solid breaststroke and we are really looking forward to having her in the program.”

Eckholt will graduate from Marian High School in Omaha, Neb., this spring. A standout sprint-freestyle specialist, she has recorded top times of 23.4 in the 50, 51.1 in the 100 and 1:50.6 in the 200 freestyle.

“Katie is one of the premier (high school) senior sprinters in the country this year,” Weathers says.

“She was an Olympic Trials competitor over the last summer and has really good speed in the 50,100 and 200 freestyle, which is pretty unusual for a sprint freestyler. We also believe that she is untapped and we really look for Katie to be one of our premier sprinters, along with (current freshman) Danielle Hulick, in years to come.”

Taylor hails from Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Fla., and holds four school records and three relay school records. Her personal best times include 55.5 in the 100 butterfly, 1:59.9 in the 200 butterfly and 4:22.5 in the 400 individual medley.

“Brooke comes into the program just above Alison Newell’s (1997-2000) school record in the 200 butterfly (1.59.38). She is the fastest butterflyer we have ever signed to come into the program by two or three seconds. If she is able to improve as much as Alison did in her career, she will definitely be a big contributor for us at the NCAA championship. She also is solid in the 200 freestyle and will help us in the 800 freestyle relay as well.”

Weathers and his staff will also be able to add to the class of 2005 in the 2001 spring signing period and is already excited about the three early additions to the program.

“I think all three will help us right away at NCAA championship,” Weathers says.