Texas’ Karlee Bispo and Georgia’s Wendy Trott are among 429 nominees for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year award, which was released on Thursday. Other notable nominees from swimming include Toledo All-American Laura Lindsay, Midwest Conference record-holder Morgan Bober from Grinnell; and IUP National Champion Jackie Hynson. The award is given to one woman each year who “have distinguished themselves throughout the collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership.”
Each NCAA member institution is eligible to nominate their top graduating female student-athlete from across their women’s programs, with each conference passing one-or-two names along to the NCAA level competition. In August, the list will be narrowed to the top 10 honorees in each division who will be named semi-finalists, then the top three in each division for 9 finalists. Those finalists will be invited to a ceremony in Indianapolis on October 14th, where a single winner, from the three divisions combined, will be chosen as the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.
Swimming has a streak running, having claimed the last three winners of this prestigious award: one of the highest honors given out by the NCAA. Stevens Institute of Technology’s Laura Barito, a Division III swimming (and track) National Champion won the award in 2011, with a pair of Arizona Wildcats (Justine Schluntz in 2010 and Lacey Nymeyer in 2009) taking the honors in the two classes before that.
Trott might be the best candidate to continue that swimming tradition; the three-time NCAA Champion in the 1650 free had a cumulative 3.97 GPA before the final 2012 grades were posted, earning her the NCAA Elite 89 award for the highest GPA among swimmers competing at the Division I NCAA Championship meet. She also conquered the women’s 1650 free for three-straight seasons as the country’s best miler from the 2009 through 2011 seasons.
Bispo wrapped an 18-time All-American career last year for the Longhorns with her 16th, 17th, and 18th Big-12 Championships. Academics have always been a strong suit of hers – she was ranked 4th in her high school class coming to Texas, and after her junior and senior seasons was named to the Capital One Academic All-American lineup with a final 3.35 GPA, majoring pre-med.
In 2012, Laura Lindsay became the first Toledo Rocket to earn an NCAA Automatic-Qualifying time, and rolled to a B-Final victory with a 59.61 in the 100 breaststroke at the Division I NCAA Championship meet. That was her second All-American award, making her the only swimmer in program history to earn even a single award. She is another pre-med athlete, who will be attending nursing school in the fall.
Bobar, who swims for Division III Grinnell College, is a 10-time MWC Champion who made a big shift midway through her college career. After winning Midwest Conference Championships her freshman and sophomore years as a breaststroker, she switched gears and by the time she graduated became the MWC record holder in the 100 fly. During her four years, the Human Rights and Global Development major also served as the Vice President of the school’s student-athletic advisory committee and volunteered with the Special Olympics.
And finally, Jackie Hynson from IUP was nominated after breaking the NCAA Division II National Record in the 200 fly last season with a 1:58.84. Hynson, who spent one season at Division I Oakland before transferring to IUP. The multiple-time Honor Roll student is majoring in speech pathology, and graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
At this level, the NCAA doesn’t break down athletes by sport. These are the aquatic nominees that jumped out at us, but if there’s other on the list please leave them in the comments!