SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. - First year Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) and the 400-yard medley relay squad set records to lead the Simmons College swimming & diving team during the preliminaries on the first day of the 2015 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Championships.
The top 16 finishers from today's preliminaries advanced to tonight's finals. The Sharks will send 14 entrants into tonight's finals from this morning's preliminary heats. Simmons had a number of entrants, who surprised the field by placing higher than where they were seeded with a total of nine performing better than their seeding.
Giraldi placed second in the 50-yard breaststroke with a school-record time of 30.63 to shatter the previous mark held by teammate Shylee Stewart (Eastham, Mass.), who held the previous standard of 31.17. Giraldi and Stewart were also a part of the school-record setting 400-medley relay squad, which erased the old mark by over four seconds with a time of 3:59.87 to place second and cap the preliminaries. Sophomore Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) swam the opening leg, followed by Giraldi, first year Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) and Stewart.
Stewart, senior Chloe Davis (Merrimack, N.H.), Giraldi and Swisher opened the morning by winning the 200-freestyle relay with a time of 1:39.39. Swisher and Stewart both advanced to the 50-freestyle with times of 24.64 and 24.80, respectively, to place third and seventh in the race. Senior Joleigh Ferro (Pittsfield, Mass.) will join the pair this evening after posting a personal-best mark of 25.71 to come in at 15th.
The Sharks will also send three swimmers to compete in the 200-individual medley finals, led by sophomore Hannah Plourde's (Westfield, Mass.) ninth-place showing with a time of 2:23.47. Junior Rachel Chenard (Saco, Maine) and first year Lindsay Nichols (Kennebunk, Maine) surprised the field by placing 11th and 16th, respectively, with times of 2:26.12 and 2:29.45 to outperform their individual seeding and set new personal records.
Simmons also got unexpected finishes in the 500-freestyle from first year Emily Papp (Newtown, Conn.) and sophomore Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.), who were both originally seeded in the 20s. Papp clocked in at a personal-best 5:34.88 to place 11th, while Mattheisen hit the wall at a career-best 5:39.86 to come in 14th to advance to the finals. Mattheisen will also compete in the 50-breaststroke finals after placing 14th with a personal-best time of 33.48.
Morris will compete in tonight's 100-butterfly finals following her eighth-place showing with a time of 1:00.93, while Davis' personal-record time of 2:17.42 earned her 10th place in the 200-backstroke and a spot in the finals.