ROCHESTER, MI, February 6. JUNIOR Christel Bouvron (Singapore, Singapore/Raffles Girls' Secondary School) provided three of her team's 11 victories in helping the 25th-ranked University of Notre Dame women's swimming and diving team (6-3) foil Oakland University's bid for an undefeated campaign with a 163.5-134.5 victory Saturday afternoon in the OU Aquatics Center, per Irish reports.
The Golden Grizzlies (7-1), ranked #7 in CollegeSwimming.com's Division I Mid-Major poll, had not lost in nearly a year, since dropping a 176-117 decision to the Irish in the final dual meet of last season. The win made it two for the Irish who also picked up a
Oakland won the first event of the meet, but Bouvron's first victory – in the 200-yard freestyle – gave the Irish a 31-24 advantage after three races, and OU never went ahead again. The Grizzlies, who last weekend defeated intrastate rival Michigan State, would not go away, however, and they used victories in the 100 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, and one-meter diving to knot the score at 74.5-74.5 through eight events. Notre Dame responded by winning seven of the remaining eight events – dropping only the remaining diving competition – to claim the victory.
Bouvron's victories came in the 200 and 500 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. Her first win came in a season-best time of 1:54.04 that was just better than her teammate, sophomore Rebecca Grove (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown H.S.), who posted a 1:54.64. The 2000 and '04 Olympian for her native Singapore then finished first in back-to-back races late in the meet. Her next victory – in the 500 – came in another season-best effort (5:05.42) and by more than 1.5 seconds ahead of OU's top swimmer, while rookie Kayla Graham (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia/Auburn Drive H.S.) ended up third in 5:10.26. After two heats of the men's 500, Bouvron jumped right back in the pool and won the 100 butterfly in a time of 56.41 that was well clear (.82 seconds ahead) of runner-up Melissa Jaeger of Oakland. Sophomore Jessica Stephens (Bloomsburg, Pa./Bloomsburg H.S.) was third in 57.77, while fellow sophomore Ann Barton (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain H.S.) was right behind in 58.55.
Stephens had grabbed a victory of her own just before the 500, winning the 200 breaststroke by more than a second with a time of 2:20.36. Senior co-captain Georgia Healey (New York, N.Y./Trinity School) ended up third in 2:23.05.
Bouvron almost went unbeaten on the day, but the 200 medley relay, for which she swam the butterfly leg, was just outtouched by Oakland by .18 seconds to begin the meet. The quartet of freshman Caroline Johnson (Springfield, Mo./Glendale H.S.), Stephens, Bouvron, and Graham ended in a time of 1:48.50.
Johnson was a two-time winner in individual action, as well, taking first in both the 100 backstroke and the 100 freestyle. In the former, she defeated the field by more than a second with a time of 58.06. The rookie now owns all of Notre Dame's top nine times in the 100 back this season. She came back later and finished in a time of 52.80 to win the 100 free. That event also saw freshman Raine Paulson-Andrews (Montego Bay, Jamaica/Gulliver Prep School [FL]), swimming as an exhibition competitor, turn in a season best of 54.59 and notch a BIG EAST "B" cut, while another exhibition freshman, Kelly Battle (Allison Park, Pa./North Allegheny H.S.), also registered a conference "B" cut (54.75) in her first time swimming the race as a collegian.
The final event of the meet – the 200 free relay – saw Johnson lead off a Notre Dame squad that finished first in a time of 1:36.81, the second-fastest mark for the Irish in 2004-05. She was followed into the pool by sophomore Katie Carroll (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy), freshman Katie Guida (Alexandria, Va./Georgetown Visitation Prep School), and Grove.
Carroll was a double winner for Notre Dame, as well, going undefeated in the individual medleys, in which she holds the school records. In the 400-yard race, she won by more than four seconds in a time of 4:25.58. She had a 3.5-second margin in winning the 200 IM in a time of 2:05.04, which gives her all of the top three times for the Irish in the event this season.
Guida also had an individual victory, winning the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.83, just .14 seconds ahead of OU's Jenna Dejonge. Paulson-Andrews also posted a season best in that race (25.05).
The other winner for the Irish on Saturday was sophomore Ellen Johnson (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy), who came in first in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:06.95. Grove, swimming the race for the first time in 2004-05, was fourth with a mark of 2:08.38 that was good for a BIG EAST "B" cut, her fifth different conference cut this season.
Oakland's Jaeger won the 200 butterfly, but Notre Dame took the next three positions. Battle led the way with a time of 2:09.60, while sophomore Kiley Gooch (Carmel, Ind./Carmel H.S.) was third in 2:14.87, and rookie Georgia Steenberge (Granbury, Texas/Granbury H.S.) followed her in 2:15.33.
Competing without fifth-year All-America diver Meghan Perry-Eaton (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale H.S.), Notre Dame was swept in the diving events by Oakland's Linda Keskey. Irish freshman Tara Hyer (Tampa, Fla./Academy of the Holy Names) finished second off both boards, with a one-meter score of 230.33 and a three-meter mark of 238.88.
Junior Courtney Choura (Bridgeville, Pa./Oakland Catholic H.S.) tied with Lindsey Unrath for second place in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:06.89.
Notre Dame improved to 25-2 (.926) in second-semester dual meets over the last six seasons.
The Irish will now be off until the 2005 BIG EAST Championships, slated for Feb. 16-19 at the Nassau County Aquatics Center in East Meadow, N.Y. They have won eight consecutive titles in the meet and will try to become the first team – in any sport – to claim a ninth BIG EAST championship since 1995-96, Notre Dame's inaugural season as a league member.
– ND –