SWIMMING: Irish fall short of Panthers at ND Relays
When the head coaches from Notre Dame and Pittsburgh men's swimming teams chatted after the Notre Dame Relays Friday, Chuk Knoles, head coach for University of Pittsburgh breathed a sigh of relief.
Even though Pittsburgh swam its way to a 226-166 victory at the relay meet, it wasn't easily accomplished.
The Irish nipped the Panthers' toes in several events, chasing the 2001 Big East Champions to 14 victories. But even though Pitt had a clean sweep of the meet winning all 11 relays, the Irish came in second in every event, with finishes as close as .50 seconds of the Panthers' times.
"I think I held my breath more than [the swimmers] did," Knoles told Notre Dame head coach Tim Welsh.
The Relays — a meet traditionally dominated by both the men's and the women's teams — was a measuring stick for the team at the beginning of the season. While defeating Pitt wasn't a likely goal going into the Relays, the chance to evaluate Big East competition early was valuable, Welsh said.
"It clearly helps to race the conference champions early in the season," Welsh said. "The fact that several of the races were close is a wonderful sign."
The Irish diving duo of Joseph Miller and Andy Maggio posted the Irish's only win on the day, taking first in the three-meter synchronized diving event.
Notre Dame Women
Friday afternoon was a double victory for the Notre Dame women's team, which chalked victories against Pittsburgh in a dual meet and then again at the relay meet.
The Irish outswam Pittsburgh, winning easily 223-77, and winning 14 of 16 events.
Fifth-year senior Carrie Nixon returned to collegiate competition for the first time since spring 2000, after sitting out last season due to a shoulder injury. Her first college competition since the NCAA Championships a year and a half ago, Nixon won four races in the dual meet and posted more victories on two relay teams.
Nixon won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles as well as competing as a part of the 100- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
"We're really excited about Carrie Nixon," women's head coach Bailey Weathers said. "This is probably the fastest she's been before Christmas, ever."
The team also clinched the only remaining meet record not held by Notre Dame at Notre Dame Relays, winning the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3 minutes, 27.01 seconds, 10 seconds off the previous record held by Illinois State.
The team of freshman Katie Eckholt, sophomore Danielle Hulick, Nixon and senior Kelly Hecking was also a second off the team record.
"Even in a dual meet, that would be a really good swim," Weathers said. "It was really unexpected ... it's by far the best start we've ever had."
Only four points behind Marquette University, the Saint Mary's swim team fell into last place at the Notre Dame Relays after two disqualifications Friday.
But that's just evidence of "young mistakes," said first-year coach Gregg Petcoff.
Powered by nine freshmen on the roster, the Saint Mary's squad, did, however, squeak past some Division I teams. The 800-yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Megan Ramsey, junior Lane Herrington, junior Lauren Smith and sophomore Maureen Palchak placed fourth in 8 minutes, 29.02 seconds, ahead of Valparaiso, Washington and Marquette.
The 200-yard medley relay of freshman Molly Maloy, Smith, freshman Lindsay Markin and sophomore Chloe Lenihan also beat out Valparaiso and Marquette in 2 minutes, 3.78 seconds.
The Belles used the Relays as a warm-up for two Division I meets on their schedule in November.
The team will face both Texas Christian University and Western Ontario early in the season, the first time the Belles have competed against Division I competition in the regular season.
But the presence of the Division I teams at the relays wasn't an issue in the Belles' performance Friday, Petcoff said.
"They did fantastic," Petcoff said. "There are some things we need to work on ... but it's early in the season."
All Sports Stories for Monday, October 8, 2001