No. 18 Irish face unranked tests
By NOREEN GILLESPIE
Rankings don't mean much.
For the Irish women's swimming and diving team, last weekend's wash of the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes proved that beating its ranked opponents would be a little easier than expected this season. But while last weekend's meet proved that the No. 18 Irish have more talent than most observers expected, they will have their work cut out for them as they face off in six matchups over two meets this weekend.
Facing off in a quad meet against Miami of Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Kenyon College in Oxford, Ohio Friday, Notre Dame will continue its weekend against Purdue and the University of Evansville Saturday. But regardless of last weekend's win — which put the Irish at 2-0 on the season— they aren't counting any of their victories early. While the quad meet will be an opportunity to post solid individual performances, Saturday's duel with Purdue won't be easy.
"It's always nice to crush a Big East opponent like we did," said senior co-captain Carrie Nixon. "Purdue is going to be different... they're about the same caliber level as Miami. We have to beat them from the start, and not make them think they can win."
The Irish will find their stiffest competition in Purdue senior Ginger Lakos, who comes back to Purdue fresh from Olympic competition in Sydney. A member of the Hungarian Olympic swim team, Lakos will establish her dominance in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle. Sophomore Lisa Lange should pose a threat in the breastroke events, and senior Missy Bromley should keep the pace in the 50-yard freestyle.
But the Irish match up evenly, relying on the strength of freshman Lisa Garcia in the butterfly and individual medley, junior Allison Lloyd and freshman Laurie Musgrave in the breastroke events and freshman Danielle Hulick in the sprint freestyle events.
The Irish will be without senior sprinter Nixon for the third consecutive week, however. Nixon, who has not competed so far in the 2000 season due to a shoulder injury, had an MRI exam Wednesday to determine if the injury will warrant surgery. The injury could be anything from a torn tendon to another tendinitis flare-up, Nixon said.
"The pain has gotten so bad that I can't make it through a whole practice," Nixon said Thursday. "I want an answer...but I can't keep going on like I am right now."
Scheduled to meet with doctors on Monday, Nixon could have surgery as early as next week, if needed. But for the meantime, she will continue to sit the sidelines during the Irish's meets this weekend.
"It's hard...you want to be out there so bad. The other girls are tired and exhausted [in practice], and you can say, `Keep going,' but you're not in the water," she said.
But should the 2000 Big East swimmer of the year be sidelined for her senior season, a fifth-year is a definite option, Nixon said.
"It doesn't make me horribly sad...right now, I've got the mindset that I'll be back at the end of the season. As a captain, I need to be there."
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 3, 2000