WASHINGTON – The George Washington men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams honored individual achievements both inside and outside the pool during the 2014-15 season at the 2015 Swimming and Diving Banquet on Friday. As the Colonials opened their Alumni Weekend festivities, first-year head coach James Winchester and his staff distributed 10 awards between the two squads, and four alumni addressed to the current student-athletes.
“The weekend was a great opportunity to connect our past and present members of the program as we recognized achievements from the 2014-15 season,” said Coach Winchester.
Sophomores Abigail Fusco and Gustav Hokfelt earned Newcomer of the Year honors after successful rookie campaigns a year ago. Fusco competed in eight different events throughout her first season as a Colonial and landed on the program’s top-10 all-time list in the 500-yd freestyle (4:57.46) and the 100-yd backstroke (58.04) as a freshman. Hokfelt was a member of the program record-setting 400-yd medley relay and 400-yd freestyle relay teams at the 2015 Atlantic 10 Championships and also holds top-10 program times in the 50-yd free, the 100-yd back, and the 200-yd back.
Bianca Valencia (’15) was presented with the program’s Community Service Award after recording 293.5 hours of service during her senior year alone. Valencia regularly volunteered at Mil Mujeres, a non-profit organization that provides services to low-income Spanish-speaking immigrants who are survivors of domestic violence and assault.
Sophomore Iman Lee took home a pair of awards on the evening, earning the women’s Most Improved honor as well as being named the program’s Diver of the Year. Lee served as a key component of GW’s first season with a reinstated diving component, displaying tremendous dedication and improvement throughout the 2014-15 season which culminated with the Colonials’ diving performance at the A-10 Championships.
On the men’s side, junior Ben Fitch received the team’s Most Improved award. Fitch posted four career best times during his sophomore campaign, three of which came at the A-10 Championships. His times in the 100-yd butterfly (49.09) and the 200-yd fly (1:50.05) last season place him second and third on GW’s all-time list, respectively. Fitch was also member of GW’s record-setting 400-yd medley relay squad in 2015.
Fitch received his second award of the evening as the men’s Academic Excellence awardee. An A-10 Academic All-Conference Team member, Fitch finished his sophomore year with a 3.86 GPA as an economics major. Sophomore Hannah Kopydlowski, a pre-arts and sciences student, earned the honor for the women, posting a 3.97 GPA through her first two semesters at GW. Both Fitch and Kopydlowski landed on the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and GW Athletics Academic Dean’s List last year.
Team MVP announcements concluded the banquet’s awards segment, with junior Carly Whitmer and Goran Koprivnjak (’15) earning the honors. On the women’s side, Whitmer broke her own program record in the 200-yd fly to set a new GW mark of 2:02.18 at the A-10 Championships to finish ninth overall at the conference meet. Whitmer posted seven career-best times during the 2014-15 season and ranks fourth all-time in the 100-fly (56.17).
Koprivnjak strongly impacted the program in just two seasons as a Colonial after transferring from Iowa Central Community College. The recent graduate anchored both of GW’s record-setting relay performances in 2015 and wrapped his career as an individual record holder in the 100-yd fly (49.00) and 200-yd fly (1:48.12). During the 2014-15 season, Koprivnjak set personal best times in the 100-yd breaststroke (1:00.42) and the 400-yd IM (3:58.60).
“Our student-athletes are incredibly hard-working and have shown great success not just in the pool, but also in their academics and in the community,” said Coach Winchester. “To be able to take the opportunity to recognize these accomplishments means a lot to me, and shows that the experience and opportunity for personal growth reaches far beyond the early mornings in the pool.”
Distinguished alumni Debbie Briggs (’90), Denise Dombay (’88), Laura Downs (’92), and Eric Wagner (’93) each spoke to current student-athletes and guests at the banquet. Downs earned GW’s Alumni Outstanding Service Award in 2015 for her constant dedication to advancing the efforts of the University, both as a staff member and in volunteer positions, since her graduation. Dombay currently serves as the senior finance business partner for information technology at Marriott International, and Briggs serves as a member of the GW Athletics National Advisory Council. Wagner, the 1993 A-10 Diver of the Year and conference champion in the 3-meter dive, remains GW’s record holder in that event.
“The welcoming I have received so far from our alumni has been overwhelming,” said Coach Winchester. “Their support of our program is incredibly important, and having them present to celebrate with us meant a lot to the team and my staff. Our teams are working hard to represent our program well, and we look forward to raising higher while respecting and remembering our roots.”
Swimming news courtesy of George Washington Swimming & Diving.