Drexel senior Rachel Bernhardt and James Madison senior Olivia Lehman headlined the major awards in CAA Women’s Swimming and Diving for the second consecutive season on Thursday, according to a vote by the league’s head coaches. Bernhardt was selected as the Women’s Swimmer of the Year, while Lehman was picked as the Women’s Diver of the Year.
Freshman Alexa Kutch of Drexel made history becoming the first Dragon to win CAA Women’s Rookie Swimmer of the Year honors, and James Madison freshman Carlyn McNeely was named Rookie Diver of the Year – the Dukes’ fifth recipient of the award all-time. The conference had c0-winners for the Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year award – the first since 2000 – after Drexel’s Adam Braun and JMU’s Dane Pederson both shared the nod. John Wolsh of JMU earned Women’s Diving Coach of the Year honors in his first season with the Dukes.
Swimmer of the Year – Rachel Bernhardt, Drexel
Bernhardt wrapped up one of the most successful careers in program history as the two-time CAA Swimmer of the Year. The senior competed at the NCAA Swimming Championships for the second straight season and became Drexel’s first Division I All-American, earning Honorable Mention honors in the 100-yard breaststroke with a 16th-place finish. The Vineland, N.J., product turned in a personal-best time of 59.68 in the 100 breast prelims at the national title meet, becoming the third woman in conference history to break the one-minute mark for the event. Prior to the NCAA Championships, Bernhardt defended her titles in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the CAA Championships and grabbed silver in the 50 free. She also swam a leg on Drexel’s first-ever team relay titles in the 200 and 400-yard medley relays. She is the first athlete to win the highest individual conference honor in consecutive seasons since 2013-14.
Diver of the Year – Olivia Lehman, James Madison
Lehman consistently progressed over the course of her final collegiate season, setting numerous NCAA Zone qualifying scores and winning four weekly CAA awards. The senior continued her momentum into the postseason, sweeping both boards at the conference championship meet for the first time in her career. Lehman scored 310.65 on the 3-meter and 298.80 on the 1-meter, en route to earning Outstanding Diver of the Meet honors for the second time in as many seasons. Lehman punched a ticket to the NCAAs for the second year in a row, becoming the only JMU diver to make multiple appearances at the highest Division I postseason meet. The Dayton, Ohio, native finished 50thon the 1-meter board.
Rookie Swimmer of the Year – Alexa Kutch, Drexel
Kutch impressed at her first-ever CAA title meet with four gold medals, and 40 individual points – good for the second-most among all freshmen competitors. Kutch recorded two NCAA B cut qualifiers in both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events at the championships, sweeping the competition. In the 100 back prelims, the Easton, Pa., product broke a meet and all-time performance record in 53.22 and later set the same meet and league standards in the 200 back (1:55.12). Kutch also swam the lead leg of both of DU’s winning medley relay squads.
Rookie Diver of the Year – Carlyn McNeely, James Madison
McNeely is JMU’s first Rookie Diver of the Year since 2014. The freshman collected two medals at her first conference title meet – the only CAA rookie to earn a spot on either podium – winning silver on the 3-meter board (267.15) and bronze on the 1-meter (252.85). She also recorded the highest finish among CAA freshmen at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, placing 26th on the 1-meter and 35thon the 3-meter.
Swimming Coaches of the Year – Adam Braun, Drexel; Dane Pederson, James Madison
Braun is Drexel’s first-ever CAA Coach of the Year award winner. Just one year after Bernhardt became the first Dragon to win an individual CAA title, the Dragons had a pair of swimmers take home two gold medals each. Bernhardt swept both breaststroke events and Kutch swept both backstroke events. Drexel captured a relay victory at the CAA Championships for the first time this season, winning gold in the 200-yard medley relay (new meet record of 1:39.61) and the 400-yard medley relay.
Pederson is the first JMU Coach of the Year honoree since 2012 and the Dukes’ sixth all-time. Though Madison finished second overall at the CAA title meet for the fifth straight season, the team’s 700.5 points total was its highest over the last three years. Junior Katie Parker and freshman Bonnie Zhang led the way for the Dukes with 47 and 46 individual points, respectively, while the 800-freestyle relay squad won its second straight league title. Three athletes – Kristi Darmody, Shannon Harper, and Claire Adkins – won their first career league titles.
Diving Coach of the Year – John Wolsh, James Madison
Wolsh guided the Dukes to yet another strong showing on both boards at the CAA Championships, as Lehman and McNeely were the only divers who took home multiple medals. Madison finished one-two on the 3-meter board and had a gold medal winner in Lehman, followed by McNeely’s bronze, on the 1-meter. Under the direction of Wolsh, Lehman closed out a solid career with a pair of CAA titles on each board and became the only Duke to reach the NCAA Diving Championships in back-to-back seasons.
In addition to the top awards and honors in women’s swimming and diving, numerous individuals and team relays garnered All-CAA accolades based on their respective performances at the 2017 CAA Championships.The conference also announced its All-Academic team, seen below.
50 Freestyle: Jaimie Miller, William & Mary; Annie Miller, William & Mary; Rachel Bernhardt, Drexel
100 Freestyle: Jaimie Miller, William & Mary; Megan Clark, Northeastern; Bonnie Zhang, James Madison
200 Freestyle: Jaimie Miller, William & Mary; Bonnie Zhang, James Madison; Shannon Harper, James Madison
500 Freestyle: Kristie Darmody, James Madison; Maria Oceguera, William & Mary; Morgan Smith, William & Mary
1650 Freestyle: Ashley Illenye, Towson; Morgan Smith, William & Mary; Maria Oceguera, William & Mary
100 Butterfly: Sara Touchette-McGowan, Northeastern; Abby Mack, William & Mary; Mina Feyrer, Delaware
200 Butterfly: Abby Mack, William & Mary; Meagan Johnson, UNCW; Maria Oceguera, William & Mary
100 Breaststroke: Rachel Bernhardt, Drexel; Katie Parker, James Madison; Megan Marsh, James Madison
200 Breaststroke: Rachel Bernhardt, Drexel; Claire Williams, William & Mary; Allie Christy, William & Mary
100 Backstroke: Alexa Kutch, Drexel; Jacy Icard, Towson; Sophie Rittenhouse, William & Mary
200 Backstroke: Alexa Kutch, Drexel; Sophie Rittenhouse, William & Mary; Jacy Icard, Towson
200 Individual Medley: Shannon Harper, James Madison; Kendall Krumenacker, Towson; Katie Parker, James Madison
400 Individual Medley: Claire Adkins, James Madison; Ashley Illenye, Towson; Maddie Massey, James Madison
200 Freestyle Relay:
William & Mary (Jaimie Miller, Annie Miller, Emma Herold, Katie Sell)
Drexel (Alexa Kutch, Aubrey Murray, Claudia Duguay, Rachel Bernhardt)
James Madison (Bonnie Zhang, Shannon Harper, Mackenzie Gring, Katie Parker)
400 Freestyle Relay:
William & Mary (Georgie Crompton, Katie Sell, Annie Miller, Jaimie Miller)
James Madison (Bonnie Zhang, Kristie Darmody, Jillian Breeger, Shannon Harper)
Drexel (Rachel Bernhardt, Emily Joyce, Alexa Kutch, Claudia Duguay)
800 Freestyle Relay:
James Madison (Katie Parker, Emma Gourdie, Shannon Harper, Bonnie Zhang)
William & Mary (Selina Fuller, Maria Oceguera, Morgan Smith, Jaimie Miller)
Towson (Sarah Margaret Locke, Melissa Toy, Corie Morton, Kendall Krumenacker)
200 Medley Relay:
Drexel (Alexa Kutch, Rachel Bernhardt, April Forsthoffer, Claudia Duguay)
Northeastern (Christine Leong, Taylor Ellis, Sara Touchette-McGowan, Megan Clark)
William & Mary (Sophie Rittenhouse, Jess Crowley, Abby Mack, Annie Miller)
400 Medley Relay:
Drexel (Alexa Kutch, Rachel Bernhardt, April Forsthoffer, Claudia Duguay)
James Madison (Abby Ortman, Megan Marsh, Katie Parker, Bonnie Zhang)
William & Mary (Sophie Rittenhouse, Jess Crowley, Abby Mack, Jaimie Miller)
One-Meter Dive: Olivia Lehman, James Madison; Madison Kramer, Drexel; Carlyn McNeely, James Madison
Three-Meter Dive: Olivia Lehman, James Madison; Carlyn McNeely, James Madison; Alyssa Seales, Northeastern
2017 CAA Women’s Swimming and Diving All-Academic Team
|Claire Adkins, James Madison||Sr.||Martinsville, Va.|
|Sarah Braatz, Delaware||Jr.||Newark, Del.|
|Olivia Evans, Towson||Sr.||Adamstown, Pa.|
|Jaclyn Goulet, Drexel||Sr.||Middlebury, Conn.|
|Meghan Lahr, UNCW||So.||Evergreen, Colo.|
|Emma Merrill, William & Mary||Jr.||Fairfax, Va.|
|Carly Schnabel, Northeastern||So.||Wrentham, Mass.|
News courtesy of the CAA.