Swimming & Diving Looks to Repeat as GNAC Champs in 2014-15

The Simmons College swimming and diving squad enters the 2014-15 campaign hoping to win its 11th straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship.

The Simmons College swimming and diving squad enters the 2014-15 campaign hoping to win its 11th straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship.

Three-time GNAC Coach of the Year and last year's New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association choice for top coach as well, Mindy Williams, has the luxury of welcoming back last year's GNAC Rookie of the Year as well as a number of GNAC and school-record holders. The Sharks also expect big contributions from a pair of newcomers as well. Simmons should score a lot of points in relay and sprint events, but also expect to be really strong in the backstroke and breaststroke events.

Three-fourths of the Sharks' championship and record-setting relay teams are all returning. Senior Tri-Captain Chloe Davis (Merrimack, N.H.) returns for her final season with Simmons. She was a member of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that captured GNAC titles last season, while breaking a league record in the 200 free relay. She has also proved valuable on the 200 and 400 medley relay teams, setting school records in each event. Davis can hold her own in the backstroke as well. The senior won the 200 event at the GNAC Championships and should lead Simmons in the event again this year as well as the individual medley. Sophomore Shylee Stewart (Eastham, Mass.) burst onto the collegiate scene last year and made a major impact for the Sharks as the GNAC Rookie of the Year. As a first year, she established new GNAC standards in the 50 and 100 breaststroke, while helping the Sharks break records conference records in the 200 free and 400 medley relays. She also touched the wall first at the New England Championships in the 100 breast, while setting school records in that event in addition to the 50 breast and is in the school record-book for the 200, 400 and 800 free relays as well as the 200 and 400 medley relay events. Classmate Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) made it difficult for the league to select just one rookie of the year as she enjoyed a sensational first season at the college level. Swisher showed great versatility, winning the GNAC title in the 100 back as well as the 50, 100 and 200 free events, while setting league records in all three free events. She also contributed to the team's 200 free and 400 medley relay GNAC titles and records.

Senior Tri-Captain Joleigh Ferro (Pittsfield, Mass.) is one of the team's top sprinters in the free, but will join Swisher as one of the top competitors in the backstroke. Ferro won the GNAC's 50 back event, while helping Simmons take league crowns in the 200 medley and 400 free relay events. Sophomore Sarah Price (New York, N.Y.) figures to be one of the squad's top sprinters as well. She's a strong relay swimmer and helped the Sharks capture the 400 free relay title with Ferro and Davis. Price will also compete in the breaststroke. Fellow sophomores Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.) and Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) also got a taste of GNAC success, helping the 200 medley relay team to a GNAC Championship. As a rookie, Mattheisen came on strong toward the end of the season to turn in a good showing at New Englands. Nguyen is a versatile swimmer and also helped the 400 free relay squad to a GNAC title. The second-year pair will compliment a strong stable of breaststrokers. 

Senior Hillary Wong (Quincy, Mass.) and first year Emily Papp (Newton, Conn.) will both contribute in freestyle sprints, but will be counted on as prime competitors in relay events for Simmons. Twin first years, Kira and Olivia Finan (Cape Coral, Fla.) along with sophomore Michelle Jung (Lexington, Mass.) will all give the Sharks added depth in the free sprint events. Olivia Finan will also look to compete in the IM, while Jung will add to the team's breaststroke contingent.

Junior Alexandra Vutech (Woodstock, Vt.)will be right in the mix for Simmons in the breaststroke. She competed at New Englands a year ago and the Sharks are hoping that promising first year Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) will join her at the regionals. The rookie is very strong in the breast event and definitely one to watch for this season.  

Simmons will be very young at butterfly, but could also see a breakout star make her presence known throughout the conference. First year Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) should be the team's top flyer and is expected to make an impact right away. The rookie will also be a key in relay events. First year Abigail Gonzalez (Kennesaw, Ga.) is extremely versatile and very strong in the fly, IM and back. The newcomer will be a valuable member of the squad with the ability to score in a number of events. Senior Meredith Williams (Peabody, Mass.) is a returner who will compete in the fly and IM events for the Sharks, while first year Lindsay Nichols (Kennebunk, Maine) will also vie for time in the pool in the fly.

Senior Tri-Captain Kara Silva (Reading, Mass.) showed great improvement last year and will contribute in the IM, fly and distance events. Sophomore Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) is Simmons' top swimmer in the IM and also the school-record holder in the 400 IM. She should lead the team again this season in the IM, while also competing in the breast. Junior Rachel Chenard (Saco, Maine) is also a versatile swimmer and could contribute for the Sharks in a number of areas. She'll definitely see time in the distance and IM events, while junior Kirsten Vickey (Taunton, Mass.) has been a solid competitor for the team and will be in the mix again in the IM and backstroke. First year Elena Cerjanec (Falmouth, Maine) will also look to contribute in the IM for Simmons.

Junior Kevyn Lee (New York City, N.Y.) and sophomore Emilie Lindholm (Sterling, Mass.) will both look to anchor the Sharks in the distance events. Lee is the strongest experienced distance swimmer for Simmons and Lindholm was a top-16 competitor among New England swimmers in the mile. First year Lilli Farrell (Denver, Colo.) is a strong swimmer, who will also be counted on to make an impact in her rookie campaign in the distance events, while sophomore Christina Burns (Westford, Mass.) will look to continue her growth in her second season and compete in distance races along with junior Courtney Swedeen (Medfield, Mass.) who will vie for time in distance competition for the Sharks.

Simmons has a young core of divers, who will look to get stronger as the season goes on. Sophomore Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine) will hone her skills as a newcomer to the Sharks, while first year Leyan Li (Deerfield, N.H.) will also be in the hunt to score points for Simmons.