Feb. 1, 2001
Irish prepare for championship season after posting two impressive dual meet victories to achieve highest-ever national ranking:
The Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team capped off its 2000-01 dual meet season with an impressive 24 hours of competition last weekend. Facing ranked opponents in Northwestern and Michigan within the same 24-hour period, the Irish beat the 23rd-ranked Wildcats 154-146 and the 14th-ranked Wolverines at home 157-143.
The two victories, which improved the Irish dual meet record to 10-1 on the season, elevated the team to #15 in the SPEEDO AMERICA top 25. The ranking marks the highest Notre Dame has ever risen in the national poll.
Looking forward to championship competition: The Irish now set their sights on the 2001 BIG EAST Championship, held in Long Island, NY, Feb. 15-17. Notre Dame will be pursuing its fifth straight BIG EAST team title in six years of conference competition.
It will take a complete team effort for the Irish to repeat in the highly-competitive BIG EAST meet, but the team boasts a veteran roster that has experienced championship meet pressure before.
Junior backstroker Kelly Hecking (Rutherford, NJ) won the BIG EAST title in the 100 back in 1999 and 2000, while also capturing first place in the 200 back last season. Hecking has been outstanding this season as well, posting NCAA consideration times in both events. Her 100 backstroke time of 55.70 from the Notre Dame Invitational currently ranks as the 16th-best time in the nation this year. Hecking’s 200 backstroke time (2:00.54), also swam at the Notre Dame Invitational, is ranked 17th in the country this season. She was able to improve that time twice last weekend, swimming 2:00.47 in the 200 back vs. Northwestern, then posting 2:00.32 the next day vs. Michigan.
Another consistent performer for the Irish this season has been freshman Marie Labosky (Churchville, Pa.). Labosky has performed well in both the distance freestyle events and the individual medleys. She owns the top times on the team in the 500 free (4:53.49), 1,000 free (10:03.16), 1,650 free (16:51.64), 200 IM (2:04.51) and 400 IM (4:19.81).
Labosky’s previous season-best time in the 1,000 free was 10:05.00, which ranked 25th in the nation. Her improvement to 10:03.16 vs. Northwestern should elevate her into the top 20. The 400 IM time of 4:19.81 Labosky put up at the Indiana Invitational is currently ranked 20th in the nation.
The talented Irish roster is not limited to these two swimmers. Freshman Danielle Hulick (Galesburg, Ill.) has the team’s top times in the 50 and 100 freestyle and should help the Irish relay teams place highly at the BIG EAST Championship. The entire Notre Dame butterfly roster has been solid over the last few weeks, led by sophomore Amy Deger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and freshmen Lisa Garcia (Denver, Colo.), Lisa D’Olier (Houston, Texas) and Sarah Bowman (Cheshire, Conn.). All four swimmers posted their best times of the year in the butterfly last weekend, led by Deger’s 56.35 in the 100 fly and 2:03.13 in the 200.
While the Irish swimming depth will be counted on at the BIG EAST meet, junior diver Heather Mattingly (Houston, Texas) might be a favorite to win both diving competitions. Mattingly is 6-0 in her last six diving competitions, posting wins in the one- and three-meter events vs. Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan. Her top scores for the year came at Northwestern, where she scored 297.98 off the one-meter board and 351.15 in the two-meter competition. Mattingly has already qualified for the NCAA Zone diving meet this season, where she will hope to improve on her 15th-place, honorable mention All-America finish in both events at the 2000 NCAA championship meet.