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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Tired Irish Drop Two in a row

A number of individual performances highlighted a disappointing weekend for the Irish, as the No. 23 ranked women dropped both meets in a triangular event against Purdue and Arizona State.Jessica Stephens had three top-three finishes and Meghan Perry-Eaton led the divers with two top-two finishes. Additionally, Ellen Barton and Ann Barton both placed in the top two twice in the meet, as the Irish fell to Arizona State 186-111 and Purdue 169-130."I think that for the most part, there were the individuals who swam pretty well, but for the most part the team just looked pretty tired," co-captain Kelli Barton said. "Coming out of the meet we were tired mentally as well."After spending the week of fall break in intense training, injuries to key swimmers also played a role in the team's defeat."It also didn't help that we had a lot of injuries coming into the meet," Barton said, citing the absence of Christel Bouvron, Katie Carroll and Kristen Peterson as major factors.In the 400-yard individual medley, the Irish took first and second with Stephens touching at 4 minutes, 25.76 seconds and Ellen Barton coming in at 4:26.31."I'm really excited for the IM events," Kelli Barton said. "Our top [swimmer in that event] was out of the meet and we still went 1-2 in the 400 IM. It was quite an achievement, especially at the end of the meet that was very depressing."There were other bright spots for an otherwise struggling Irish squad. "I think the backstroke events look pretty strong this year," Barton said. "Our IM events look very strong, also our butterflies will be pretty strong this year as well. Relay wise too, I think the 400 medley [will do well after placing] third at this meet."That relay team, consisting of Caroline Johnson, Natalie Burke, Stephens and Katie Eckholt, came in at 3:52.47, even without Carroll, who usually swims in the event. The 400-yard free relay of Johnson, Rebecca Grove, Georgia Healey and Ellen Johnson came in fourth at 3:32.01.Grove also took first in the 100-yard backstroke, notching a time of 56.60.In addition to her relay wins, Johnson posted a third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.44. The Irish return to the pools Nov. 12 against Pittsburgh after more intense training."The next meet is parent's weekend, so I think that we're going to train pretty hard through it," Barton said. "Tomorrow we're starting a new phase of our training...they usually start out pretty intense so definitely we'll be swimming straight through the Pitt meet."However, the Irish expect improvements between now and when the Panthers dive in."The little things [we improve on] will make it just that much more exciting," Barton said. "I think we'll see swimmers that are just as good as [they were] at this meet and there will be some that will be a lot better.