The SMU women’s swimming and diving team travels to Denton, Texas, for its last dual meet of the season to face the University of North Texas on Friday at the Pohl Recreation Center and PEB Natatorium. Action is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. CT. LIVE coverage can be found on the Meet Mobile App with subscription. SMU will also hold a Pre-Conference Time Trial event Saturday at 2 p.m. at the CISD Aquatics Center in Southlake, Texas, and will honor the program’s five seniors.
FOLLOW THE PONIES
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The women’s swimming and diving program earned the first of two possible College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) team awards this season. To be selected as a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team, programs must have achieved a grade point average of 3.00 or higher over the fall semester. The Mustangs posted a team GPA of 3.53 during the fall semester to position itself 24th of 165 teams to garner the honor. The total came in above the Division I national average of 3.336. The Mustang seniors have been honored each semester on the Hilltop thus far.
SMU currently holds 8 of 13 top times in The American this season. Matea Samardzic (100 back, 200 back, 200 IM, 400 IM) leads the way with four, while Tara-Lynn Nicholas has a pair (100 breast, 200 breast) and Marne Erasmus (100 fly) and Anna Cheesbrough (200 fly) each lead one event. The Mustangs also lead the conference in the 200 and 400 medley relays. Current times would put Mustangs on the podium 14 times at the Championships, while, in all, the team has 28 times that would make Championship Finals in an event.
Vicky Cunningham leads the Mustangs with a pair of American Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week honors this season (Dec. 6 & Nov. 1). Matea Samardzic was also honored on Oct. 18. It is the first career-honor for each. On the diving side, Lauren Lamb was honored by the conference on Nov. 1.
MAKING THE CUT
SMU has posted 11 NCAA provisional times so far this season for the 2017 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 15-18 in Indianapolis. Matea Samardzic has four cuts for the Championships, her first career marks since transferring from NCAA Division II St. Peter’s. Samardzic is one of 3 AAC swimmers with B Cuts in the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys and 100 back, and 4 swimmers who have posted times in the 200 yard back. She leads the conference in all four. In freestyle events, Vicky Cunningham leads the Mustangs with times in the 100 and 200 distances. Tara-Lynn Nicholas has standards in both breaststroke distances, while Marne Erasmus (100), Erin Trahan (100) and Anna Cheesbrough (200) pace the Mustangs in butterfly events.
Senior Marne Erasmus and junior Matea Samardzic rank in the top 20 nationally of their respective events. Erasmus is currently 19th in the 100-yard butterfly (52.23), while Samardzic sits 20th in the 200-yard backstroke (1:53.54). Erasmus is a three-time All-American and school record holder in the event, while this is Samardazic’s first NCAA Division I B cut in the 200 back after transferring from St. Peter’s.
Three Mustangs have moved into the top 10 of their respective events this season on SMU’s Top Performers list, while current Mustangs Hannah Rogers (50 free), Maddie Hoch (200 free), Kirsty McLauchlan (1650 free, 200 breast, 400 IM), Marne Erasmus (100 & 200 fly), Tara-Lynn Nicholas (100 & 200 breast) and Anna Cheesbrough (200 fly) have already made the cut during their careers.
Cunningham / 200 free / 9th / 1:46.71
Samardzic / 100 back / 4th 52.95
200 back / 3rd / 1:53.54
200 IM / 5th / 1:59.43
400 IM / 2nd / 4:12.22
Trahan / 100 fly /10th /54.25
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
North Texas is 1-3 in dual meets this season, with its lone win coming over TCU on Friday. Two of UNT’s losses have come at the hands of Rice and Houston, teams the Mustangs defeated in October. The Mustangs and Mean Green first met this season at the season opening UNT Relays Sept. 30, where the Mustangs placed second, one spot ahead of UNT. At last year’s dual event, SMU came away with a 132-109 victory in Mansfield.
SMU is 3-1 in dual action this season, matching its best start since the 2011-12 season when the Mustangs picked up victories over Rice, Wyoming and North Texas to open the season. The Mustangs have wins over American Athletic Conference opponents Houston and Tulane, as well as a victory of Rice. The lone loss of the season came to then-No. 8 Texas A&M in College Station.
THE NEW HOME OF SMU SWIMMING & DIVING
Building on a legacy of proud Olympians, world records and 155 national titles, SMU broke ground on the new Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. The 42,000 square foot center will be home to SMU’s internationally-recognized men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Located at 5550 SMU Blvd. on the University’s growing east campus, the center will provide facilities for practice, competition and community use. The Aquatics Center will feature an Olympic-sized, eight-lane indoor pool with a platform diving area, including four springboards and a 10-meter tower for training and competition. Coaches’ offices, men’s, women’s and visitor locker rooms and a classroom and meeting area will be located adjacent to the pool. Spectator seating for 800 will be on the mezzanine level. The facility is set to open for the 2017-18 season and will serve as host to the 2018 American Athletic Conference Championships.
The Mustangs received 16 votes in the first edition of the CSCAA NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Poll, placing them just outside of the top 25 by only 4 votes. SMU was ranked as high as No. 11 a season ago, and have been the only American Athletic Conference team listed.
Rachel Nicol // Canada
Nicol, who entered the Games as the No. 18 seed in the 100-meter breaststroke, earned herself a fifth-place finish in the event. Nicol secured her finish clocking a personal-best 1:06.68 in the event final. She advanced as part of the top eight after posting a 1:06.73 in the second of two semifinals. For her performance in the individual event, Nicol earned a spot on Canada’s fifth place 4×100-meter medley relay squad finishing in a National Record time of 3:55.49. Canada was the No. 2 seed headed into the final after winning its semifinal heat in 3:56.80.
Matea Samardzic // Croatia
Samardzic’s best finish came in the 100-meter backstroke, where the Croatian finished 13th overall in semifinals touching in 1:00.60. She also reached the semifinals in the 200 distance, finishing 15th in 2:09.83. In her first of her three events at the Games, the 400-meter individual medley, Samardzic posted a National Record time of 4:39.41. The National standard earned Samardzic the win in heat two of the event by nearly four seconds. It was also over five seconds ahead of her 4:44.63 entry time.
Nina Rangelova // Bulgaria
Participating in her third Games, Rangelova competed in heats of both the 100- and 200-meter freestyle. The Bulgarian finished fourth in her heat and 22nd overall in the 200 at 1:58.57, and was 31st overall in the 100 clocking a 55.71. Head coach Steve Collins also represented Bulgaria as Rangelova’s coach.
Isabella Arcila // Colombia
Arcila posted a National Record time in her heat of the 50-meter freestyle, touching the wall in 25.35. Overall, the Colombian was fourth in her heat and 30th out of 91 entered participants in her first Olympics.
2016 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The SMU women’s swimming and diving team concluded the 2015-16 NCAA season at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship in Atlanta, March 16-19. Junior Marne Erasmus and Tara-Lynn Nicholas represented the Mustangs, competing in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke, respectively. Both swimmers also posted B standards in the 200 distances of their respective events, as well as the 50-yard freestyle. Erasmus finished the event 11th overall and third in the Consolation Final, earning All-America honors, while Nicholas was 21st overall. In all, eight Mustangs posted NCAA B standards throughout the season.
SMU won 10 of 18 swimming events to defend its AAC Championship. The win is the Mustangs’ second in the three-year history of The American, and 17th in the last 20 seasons. In all, the Mustangs earned five individual championships, and swept the event’s five relays. Marne Erasmus (butterfly) and Kirsty McLauchlan (individual medley) swept their individual specialties, while Tara-Lynn Nicholas won the 100-yard breaststroke.
The AAC Champion Mustangs placed seven individuals, as well as all five relays on the 2016 All-Conference list.
200 free relay*: Rogers, Nicholas, Erasmus, Cunningham
400 free relay*: Santa, Rogers, Hoch, Cunningham
800 free relay*: Hoch, Santa, Bezan, Cunningham
200 medley relay*: Sudarma, Nicholas, Erasmus, Rogers
400 medley relay*: Volchkov, Nicholas, Erasmus, Cunningham
Cheesbrough: 200 fly
Cunningham: 100 free, 200 free
Erasmus: 100 fly*, 200 fly*
Hoch: 500 free
McLauchlan: 200 IM*, 400 IM*
Nicholas: 100 breast*, 200 breast
Rogers: 50 free
*Denotes Conference Champion
PONIES ON TOP
SMU finished the 2015-16 season with all five of the fastest relay times in the American Athletic Conference. Individually, the Mustangs had six of the top times in their respective events, and also 19 in the top five.
SMU has won 17 of the last 20 conference championships, including a first-place finish at the American Athletic Conference Championship in 2016. The Mustangs have never finished outside of the top three under Steve Collins, with only two 3rd-place finishes. This is the 32nd consecutive year the Mustangs have appeared at the NCAA Championship, dating back to 1985. Of those 32 appearances, SMU has finished in the top 10 17 times, and inside the top 5 10 times. The highest placement came at the 1996 Championship, where the Mustangs earned runner-up honors.
Following the 2015-16 season the Mustang roster accounted for 13 of the all-time top 10 performers in SMU history, with two holding school records. Four top performers were also in the top three. Team members are also part of two relays that rank in the top three of their respective events.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Head coach Steve Collins and assistant coach Ashley Dell were named the American Athletic Conference Coaching Staff of the Year for the second straight season in 2016. Collins enters his 31st year as the head coach of the SMU women’s swimming and diving team. A two-time NCAA Coach of the Year and 11-time conference Coach of the Year, Collins has led the Mustangs to 17 conference championships in the past 20 years and continually finishes among the top teams in the NCAA. During his tenure, SMU has 15 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, nine of those in the top five.
News courtesy of SMU Athletics.