WINTHROP, Mass. - The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team topped the 2014 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Coaches Poll as the favorite to win the GNAC Championship meet held from December 6-7. The title meet will be hosted by Simmons in the Holmes Sports Center Natatorium on its campus, beginning at 10:30 a.m. on December 6.
You can access the poll here.
The Sharks have won the conference title 10 straight years and 12 of the last 13 championship meets. Simmons comes into the meet with a 5-1 record and is led a number of talented swimmers.
One of the Sharks' biggest advantages is their depth. Simmons has swept 10 events this season, finishing first, second and third in 100-yard individual medley, the 100-breaststroke, the 100-butterfly, the 100-backstroke and in all of the freestyle events with sweeps in almost all of the freestyle events with sweeps in the 1000, the 200, the 50 and three times in the 100.
The team's nucleus is very young with a number of outstanding first and second-year competitors. Sophomore Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) leads the Sharks with an unblemished record for the season, having won all 12 individual events she has entered this season, while being named the GNAC Women's Athlete of the Week a league-high three times. The second-year swimmer owns the GNAC record in the 50, 100 and 200-free and broke her own school record in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 28.19 in the split leg of the 200-medley relay at Wellesley College on November 15. Swisher has won six different events for the season, including the 500, 200, 100 and 50-freestyle in addition to 100 and 50-backstroke.
First year Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) has also excelled in her first year of collegiate competition, winning five of nine scoring events this year, including the 100 and 50-breaststroke as well as the 100-individual medley and 50-free. The newcomer has been chosen conference Rookie of the Week three times to top the league. Classmate Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) has established herself as the team's most consistent swimmer in the fly with three wins in the 100 and a victory in the 50, while seniors Hillary Wong (Quincy, Mass.) and Chloe Davis (Merrimack, N.H.) provide depth in the 100-free with a win apiece. Wong also has a first-place finish in the 200 free to her credit, while Davis has hit the wall first in the 100-IM. Sophomore Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) has also been strong in the IM with a pair of wins in the 200 for Simmons. Sophomore Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.) recently added a victory in the 100 free to her mantle to give the Sharks a formidable contingent in the sprint freestyle events.
Simmons will also look to make a statement in the distance events, led by junior Kevyn Lee (New York City, N.Y.) in the 1000 free, where she has finished first twice this year. Sophomore Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) has also tasted victory for the Sharks in the 500 free, while Swisher established her prowess with a near pool record in the event for Simmons on December 2 vs. Babson.
The Sharks have also excelled in relay events, winning eight of nine events they had a scoring entry entered, including the 200-free and the 200 medley three times each.
The Sharks will be competing without 2013-14 GNAC Rookie of the Year Shylee Stewart (Eastham, Mass.), who has already racked up four victories in the 100 and 50-breaststroke as well as the 50-fly and 100-free, but should have enough firepower to defend their league crown.