The following is a press release courtesy of William & Mary Swimming:
The William and Mary women’s swimming team put together another customarily good year in 2013-14, taking third at the CAA Championships for the second year in a row and coming away with a pair of individual titlists. This season looks to be even better, as the Tribe returns more points than any other squad in the top-four, and adds nine newcomers who can all score at the conference meet already.
The sprint freestyles are one of the strongest event groups for the Tribe, boasting both the 50 and 100 free individual champions from last year as well as 19 of 20 relay swimmers. Leading the way is senior Megan Howard, the 50 free CAA Champion and runner-up in both the 100 free and the 100 fly. Howard put together one of the finest seasons ever last year, winning 28 races and racking up 425.5 points altogether. She earned NCAA provisional qualifiers and wins in all three events at the Hokie Fall Invitational, swimming 22.43 in the 50 and 49.68 in the 100 to join Katie Radloff ’10 as the only two women under 23 and 50 (at the time). Howard will be looking for the elusive NCAA automatic bid this winter, as well as three individual golds and as many relay titles as she can manage.
Looking to challenge Howard every stroke of the way is sophomore Jaimie Miller, who was the surprise 100 free winner last February. Miller edged out her teammate for the conference title, and went on to be named the CAA Rookie of the Year. The Texan will also contribute in the 200 free for W&M, and set lifetime-bests of 22.91, 50.14, and 1:49.89 in 2014. Junior Sara Schad had a breakout season last year, taking eighth in the 100 free and earning silver medals on both the 200 and 400 free relays. She helped set school records in both those relays, including anchoring the Tribe in the 400 free relay. Schad has timed 23.46 in the 50 and 50.55 in the 100 free.
A number of veterans will also be called on the provide depth in the sprinting events. Senior Greta Schneider and junior Noelle Klockner both won gold on the Tribe’s 200 free relay in the 2013, and will aim to help regain the top of the podium this winter. Junior Amanda Weidner will be aiming for a defining season of her own, and a spot on the CAA squad for the first time. Sophomore Georgie Crompton anchored the 200 free relay and also swam on the 400 free relay, and will be looking to improve her individual performances to earn a finals spot after missing out by just one or two spots in both the 50 free and the 100 free her freshman year.
The freshman class will mostly be used in other event groups, though all nine women are likely to have at least one sprint in their repertoire. Pennsylvanian Abby Mack will likely see the most service, after she earned prep All-American honors in the 200 free relay. Mack has swum 53.70 in the 100 free, and 1:53.80 in the 200 free. Also in the mix will be another Pennsylvania rep, Meghan Schilken from Mt. Lebanon HS in Pittsburgh. Schilken has gone 52.55 in the 100 free and 1:53.42 in the 200, and was a prep All-American in both the 200 and 400 free relays last year.
In the distances, W&M brings back four proven veterans as well as two newcomers. Junior Hannah Vester was seventh in the league last year in the 1650, timing 16:51.82 to rank second in school history. Vester also took ninth in the 500 free thanks to an impressive 4:52.57 swim in the consolation finals. There is plenty of space to move up in the league this year with five of the top eight seniors from last season now graduated, and Vester is better positioned than most to take advantage of the situation.
Swimming in the next lane over from Vester is sophomore Selina Fuller. She was 12th in the 1650 free as a freshman, recovering from a tough 500 free to time her best mile of the season on the final night. Fuller went 5:00.82 for 500 and 17:04.14 in the mile, as well as 10:15.33 for 1000. She’ll be focusing on breaking the big barriers this season (5 minutes and 17 minutes), a task that should be readily accomplished. Classmate Jess Russell is more of a middle-distance swimmer, excelling in the 200 and the 500 free. She swam 1:51.17 in the 200 to take 13th in the conference last winter, and was 12th in the 500 at 4:56.12. Russell ranks seventh all-time in both events at W&M. Junior Elena Marsilii is looking for her first bid to the CAA squad this season, after setting lifetime-bests in the 500 free (5:01.28) and the 400 IM (4:36.49) last year.
The distance freshmen this year include Bailey Hall, out of Godwin HS in Henrico, Va. The latest in a long line of talented athletes coming to W&M out of Godwin, Hall was a six-time Junior National qualifier. She has already swum 5:00.49, 10:13.30, and 16:50.93 in the mile. Also joining the Tribe is Noland Butler, from James Monroe HS in Fredericksburg. Butler has timed 5:11.50 in the 500 and 1:52.67 in the 200 free, where she finished fifth at the Virginia state championships last year.
The Tribe stands a good chance of having the top backstroke group in the conference this year, with top-level talent both at the top and throughout the line-up. Sophomore Sophie Rittenhouse established herself as the best young swimmer in the conference last year, setting W&M freshman records and school records in both the 100 back and the 200 back. Rittenhouse was fourth in the 100 back and seventh in the 200 back in 2014, swimming 54.65 and 1:58.07, respectively. She also swam the lead leg on both medley relays, breaking the school record in the 400 medley relay by more than 1.5 seconds.
Junior Noelle Klockner set lifetime-bests in both events last year at the CAA Championships, finishing 10th in the 100 back at 55.57 seconds and 12th in the 200 back, where she swam 2:00.61 in the prelims. Sophomore Jess Russell was right behind her in 2:01.14 for 13th in the 200 back, and junior Jessie Ustjanauskas was 14th in the 100 back in 56.93 seconds.
The freshman class includes three who will probably contribute in the backstroke. Megan Schilken was the 2014 Swimmer of the Year from the Pittsburgh Almanac, and was named a prep All-American in the 100 back with a time of 56.16 seconds. Kitty Arenz comes to W&M from Greenwich Academy in Connecticut, where she was a Junior National qualifier in both events. Arenz has bests of 58.29 in the 100 back and 2:04.54 in the 200 back. Rounding out the trio is Emma Merrill, from Paul VI in Fairfax. A four-time Junior National qualifier, Merrill has gone 57.81 in the 100 and 2:05.55 in the 200 back.
The breaststroke group will probably see the most growth throughout the year, as the Tribe’s veterans continue to improve and three newcomers get adjusted to collegiate training and competition. First, for the returning athletes, senior Liz Collins figures to lead the charge in the 100 breast. Collins is the freshman record-holder in the event, and has the best returning time at 1:04.53. She missed the conference meet last year, but will look to return to the CAA line-up in her final campaign and challenge for a finals spot.
Junior Jenny Lomicka had a break-out three days at the CAA Championships in 2014, setting lifetime-bests in all three of her events including the 200 breast. She finished 13th overall in that event, and her time of 2:18.75 is the best among returning athletes. Classmate Courtney Mizerak is another two-time member of the CAA squad for the Tribe, and placed 15th in the 100 breast last year. Her best in the 100 is 1:04.63, and Mizerak was also the breaststroke leg on each of the top-three 200 medley relays in school history. Rounding out the veterans is sophomore Allie Christy. The Williamsburg native was 14th in both breaststrokes and the 200 IM as a freshman, and handled the breaststroke leg of the 400 medley relay that shattered the school record by more than 1.5 seconds. Christy has gone 1:04.96 in the 100 breast, which ranks 10th in school history, and 2:21.34 in the 200.
The freshman class should play a huge part in the fortunes of the breaststroke, and could take down at least one of the two school records that have stood since 2002. Annie Valls has come to the Tribe from Miami, Fla., where she starred at Ransom Everglades HS. She was third in the state in the 100 breast as a junior and fourth as a senior, with a best time of 1:03.00 that is faster than the current school record. Valls has also gone 2:21.48 in the 200 breast, and won a state championship in the 200 medley relay. Shannon Harrington swam for Nazareth Academy in Philadelphia, where she led the team to a runner-up showing at the PIAA state championships in 2014. An eight-time Junior National qualifier, Harrington has gone 1:05.43 in the 200 and 2:21.85 in the 200 breast. Last but certainly not least, Jess Crowley won the Massachusetts state championship in the 100 breast last year for Acton-Boxborough Regional, and was gone 1:07.66 in the event.
W&M will have the advantage of the three fastest 100 butterfly swimmers in school history this year, as well as two of the top-10 in the 200 fly. Senior Megan Howard was the CAA silver-medalist in the 100 fly last year, and swam an NCAA-qualifying 54.03 in November at the Hokie Invitational. To win the conference title this year, she’ll have to take down the defending champ who is also a senior. Howard also swims the fly leg on the Tribe’s 400 medley relay.
Also at the top of the charts is junior Jessie Ustjanauskas, who ranks second all-time in school history in both the 100 fly and the 200 fly. Ustjanauskas set the freshman records in both events in 2013, and last year was third in the 100 fly (54.40) and fourth in the 200 fly (2:01.83). She was also a mainstay on the Tribe relays, swimming on both the 800 free relay and 200 medley relay. Sophomore Georgie Crompton picks up the 100 fly as her third event, and does it very well with a 55.02 showing last year that placed her seventh in the league and third all-time at W&M.
Two more veterans looking to step up their impact on the line-up this year are junior Rachel Cortright and sophomore Lauren Yi. Cortright swam a collegiate-best 58.98 in the 100 fly at the Cavalier Invitational last year, while Yi timed 2:05.58 in the 200 fly at the same meet to rank ninth all-time at W&M. She also set lifetime-bests in the 100 fly (56.83), and in the 200 IM at 2:15.21
Two members of the freshmen class will probably check into the butterfly group as well. Abby Mack comes into college with a best of 55.57 in the 100 fly, while Rachel Anderson has gone 57.07 in the 100 fly and 2:06.01 in the 200 fly. The Clifton, Va., native qualified for Junior Nationals in three fly events and the 200 IM last year, and was a Virginia state qualifier both the 100 fly and the 200 IM.
The individual medley events will see their usual mix of athletes from all of the other groups, but also add four freshmen this year. The league as a whole loses a large portion of last year’s scorers to graduation (four out of 16 in the 200 IM, six in the 400 IM), meaning there are opportunities for the Tribe to take advantage of.
Among the veterans, top performers figure to be sophomore Allie Christy and junior Jenny Lomicka. Christy was 14th in the CAA in the 200 IM last year, swimming 2:05.46 to rank 10th in school history, while Lomicka was 16th in the 200 IM and 10th in the 400 IM, touching the wall in 4:26.94.
The newcomers include Shannon Harrington, whose high school times of 2:05.31 in the 200 IM and 4:29.42 would rank her among the Tribe all-time top-10 already. Emma Merrill was the Washington D.C. Metro League champion in the 200 IM last winter, timing 2:06.35 in the process. Centreville’s Rachel Anderson has gone 2:07.92 in the 200 IM, and was both a state- and Junior National qualifier in the 200 IM as a senior. Jess Crowley will also probably spend time with the IM group, after having swum 2:09.13 in high school.