SOUTH BEND, Indiana, Dec. 2. NOTRE Dame head women's swimming coach Bailey Weathers announced the signing of nine student-athletes to national letters of intent for the 2003-04 academic year.
Signing with the Irish were Krissy Archer (Norfolk, Va.), Annie Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio), Tyne Feheley (Columbus, Ohio), Grace Galager (Albuquerque, N.M.), Rebecca Grove (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.), Ellen Johnson (Toledo, Ohio), Jessica Stephens (Bloomsburg, Pa.) and Annie Sweeney (Los Gatos, Calif.).
"This is the best early signing class we have had," Weathers said.
"This is also our most versatile class. We have four athletes who can change their specialty from year to year. This is a really important class for us, and will tell what direction the program is going to go over the next four years. All of the athletes have a chance to help us at the national meet right away and we expect to have a number of All-Americans out of this group."
Archer, of Hickory High School and the Old Dominion Aquatic Club, is one of the better sprint freestylers in the country, as her best short course times are 23.75 in the 50 free and 51.99 in the 100 free. Archer is the Hickory High School record-holder in every event except the 100 backstroke.
A three-time All-American, Archer won the state championship in the 50 freestyle as a sophomore and was second in the 100 freestyle that same year. A participant in the 2000 Senior National meet in the 50 freestyle, Archer also swam at the 1999, 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open meet, placing in the top 16 in the 50 and 100 freestyle in 2000. She also competed at the 1999 and 2000 spring and summer Junior Nationals, finishing second in the 50 free in the spring of 2000.
Archer also was a two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and was a member of the National Honor Society as a junior and senior.
"Everything made me choose to attend Notre Dame," Archer says.
"The team, the coaches, the academics, the reputation – you name it. The atmosphere is so comfortable and everyone is so supportive of one another. I love how much pride everyone takes in the school."
"She is one of the better young sprinters in the country and adds a lot of strength to our sprint group," Weathers said.
"She will be a big help to our team after the loss of Carrie Nixon last year and the impending graduation of Heidi Hendrick this season. We also think Krissy will improve dramatically while she is here."
Barton has family ties to Notre Dame as her sister, Kelli, is a sophomore on the Irish team and was an academic and athletic All-American as a freshman in 2002. Annie Barton is a very versatile swimmer as she can swim the sprint and distance freestyle races, as well as the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley events.
She holds all records at Desert Mountain High School and was the state champion this season in the 200 individual medley. A four-time All-American, Barton also has placed second in six different races at the Arizona state meet. She was named the Scottsdale Swimmer of the Year in 2002 and was regional swimmer of the year in 1999, 2001 and 2002.
A senior national qualifier, Barton was a member of the winning 800 free relay team during the summer of 2001. She also qualified for the U.S. Open in five different events. A Scholastic All-American, Barton swims for the Sun Devil Aquatics Club.
"I chose Notre Dame because I wanted to be part of the Irish 'family.' It has such character, tradition and Catholic foundation." Barton said.
"Annie is a very versatile athlete as she can swim backstroke, butterfly and individual medley. I think she is still trying to figure out what events are her best. It is hard to know what events she will focus on in a given year. She has improved dramatically in the last year and half," Weathers said.
Carroll, from Notre Dame Academy, comes to Notre Dame from the Greater Toledo Aquatic Club where she competed in all freestyle events from the 50 to the 400 free, as well as the breaststroke, butterfly and the individual medley races.
The Ohio state champion in the 50 freestyle in both 2000 and 2002, Carroll is an eight-time first-team All-American and a two-time honorable mention selection. She also competed at the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 50 and 100 freestyle and has qualified for the 2004 meet in the 200 and 400 individual medley.
Carroll, whose best times include a 23.32 in the 50 free, 50.91 in the 100 free, 1:50.90 in the 200 free, 2:03.40 in the 200 IM and 4:22.75 in the 400 IM, was 17th in both the 200 and 400 IM at the 2002 Senior Nationals. She also was ranked 13th in the nation in the 200 individual medley and 15th in the 400 IM. Her best 200 freestyle time and her 200 individual medley times would rank in the Notre Dame all-time top 10 list. A three-year honor student, Carroll was a member of Student Council for four years and was senior class president.
"I have always been impressed with Notre Dame's tradition, and being Irish-Catholic, it was at the top of my list," Carroll said.
"Katie is so versatile in the number of strokes she does, as well as the range of events," Weathers said.
"She is competitive in events from the 50 to the 500 freestyle. The great thing about Katie is she swims not only free, but the back, fly and IM events as well. In a dual-meet situation, she can compete for us in 75 percent of the events. On paper, she is probably the most versatile athlete we have ever had at Notre Dame."
Feheley is an accomplished diver from Columbus, Ohio. She will add a lot of depth behind current divers Meghan Perry-Eaton, Chrissy Habeeb, Kristina Kennedy and Samantha Raneri.
"Tyne is an explosive diver. She has the ability to challenge for the one of the top three spots in the BIG EAST Conference and has many of the skills needed to be a great diver," Weathers said.
Galagen is a sprint freestyler who currently swims at Albuquerque Academy and Lobo Aquatic Club. One of the best young sprinters in the country, the New Mexico state record-holder in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay and the 400 free relay, Galagen is a four-time All-American and was named the New Mexico Female Athlete of the Year in 2000.
A six-time Junior National qualifier, her best times are 24.0 in the 50 free and 51.9 in the 100 free. She is also a member of the National Honor Society.
"I sense that Notre Dame is a really close community and I wanted to be a part of that family atmosphere," said Galagen.
"Grace is a great sprinter. She just needs time to develop and will really help us in our sprint events. To have new, young sprinters come into the program like Grace are critical to the future of this program," Weathers said.
Grove, from Yorktown High School and Badger Swim Club, was a Junior National qualifier in 1999-2000, a Senior National qualifier in the 200 backstroke from 2000-02 and an U.S. Open participant. Grove was a high school All-American in the 100 backstroke in 2002 and qualified for the New York state meet each of the last four seasons.
She holds the Yorktown High School record in every event. Academically, Grove was a 2002 Scholastic All-American and is a member of the National Honor Society. Her best times are 56.91 in the 100 backstroke and 2:01.52 in the 200 backstroke.
"Rebecca is a quality backstroker coming in, and yet, still has a lot of room to improve," Weathers said.
"She, like everyone else, is tremendously talented and comes from a program that have not overdone things early on in her career."
Like Carroll, Johnson comes to Notre Dame from Notre Dame Academy and the Greater Toledo Aquatic Club. An All-American in the 100, 200 and 500 free and the 100 butterfly, Johnson is a four-time Ohio state champion as a member of the 200 and 400 free relay teams.
As a junior, she set National Independent School SCM records in the 200 and 500 freestyle. She has qualified for Senior Nationals in the 400 and 800 free relays and the 400 medley relay and has competed at both the U.S. Open and Junior Nationals in a number of different events including the 100 and 200 free, 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly. Johnson has also been named a Scholastic All-American the past three seasons.
"Notre Dame felt like home – the team, the coaches and the whole atmosphere," Johnson said.
"At Notre Dame, they showed great respect for their athletes and that made a big impression on me."
"Ellen comes from a great program in Toledo and will help us in areas that we are going to need help in next year – the 100 and 200 freestyle and the 100 and 200 back," Weathers said.
"She adds a lot of quality depth in the events and will help us tremendously. She will also be on our relays swimming both the freestyle and the backstroke."
Stephens won the 2002 PIAA state championship and set the state record in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke swimming for Bloomsburg High School. She is an eight-time YMCA All-American with the Bloomsburg Area YMCA and was a 2002 NISCA All-American.
In 2001, Stephens won the state championship in the 50 and 100 freestyle and was a four-time YMCA All-American. She competed at Senior Nationals this summer in the 200 individual medley and the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Her best times are 1:03.26 in the 100 breaststroke, 2:16.22 in the 200 breaststroke and 2:02.26 in the 200 individual medley.
Her 200 IM time would currently rank her in the top 10 in Notre Dame history. Stephens is also a member of the National Honor Society.
"Notre Dame is such a prestigious university which has a unique culture and tradition, combined with a successful swimming program," Stephens said.
"Jessica is a very versatile athlete. She is the state champion in the 100 breaststroke and is equally good in the 200, IM events and butterfly. The advantage of having someone like Jessica on our team is that she frees up other teammates to swim their specialties," Weathers said.
Sweeney is a 10-time All-American and 2002 section champion at Archbishop Mitty High School. Sweeney, who holds the Mitty High School record in the 500 free, is a five-time junior national qualifier in the 500 and 1000 free, the 200 and 400 individual medley and the 200 breaststroke.
Swimming for De Anza Cupertino Aquatics, Sweeney's best times are 2:23.79 in the 200m IM, 5:01.33 in the 500y freestyle and 2:23.79 in the 200y breaststroke. She is a member of the National Honor Society.
"Of the schools I visited, there was nowhere quite like Notre Dame. The history, tradition, the team and the spirit are extraordinary," Sweeney said.
"Annie will be a middle distance swimmer and individual medley swimmer for us, but she will also help in the breaststrokes. She is a versatile athlete and adds a lot of strength to our program through her contributions in not one specific area but as an overall athlete."