SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. - The Simmons College swimming & diving team's 200-medley relay unit broke the school record on the second day of the 2015 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Championship preliminaries this morning at the Tootell Aquatic Center on the campus of University of Rhode Island in South Kingston, R.I.
The Sharks had 11 entrants qualify for tonight's finals based on top-16 finishes, including six entries that placed among the top eight. For the second straight day, the squad saw a number of competitors perform better than their seeding with a total of 11 swimmers surpassing expectations.
Simmons began the day by shattering the school mark in the 200-medley relay with sophomore Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) swimming the lead leg, followed by first years Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) and Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) and anchored by sophomore Shylee Stewart (Eastham, Mass.) to clock a time of 1:51.08 to break their own mark, by more than three and a half seconds, set just over two months ago in a dual meet at Mount Holyoke College.
Giraldi and Stewart will both vie for the 100-yard breaststroke title that Stewart won last year. Giraldi finished third with a personal-record time of 1:07.06, while Stewart placed fifth with a mark of 1:07.72.
Swisher leads a trio of Sharks into tonight's 200-freestyle after placing fourth with a time of 1:57.64. First year Emily Papp (Newtown, Conn.) continues to step up her performances, bettering her personal-best time by almost five seconds with a mark of 2:03.99 to capture 10th place as the 28th seed. Sophomore Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) qualified for the finals on a career-best time of 2:05.30 to finish 16th.
Morris will also be swimming as an individual tonight on the heels of her sixth-place showing in the 50-butterfly with a time of 27.83.
Simmons will also send a pair of swimmers to the finals in both the 400-individual medley and the 100-backstroke. Sophomore Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) placed eighth in the 400-IM after hitting the wall at 5:01.98, while junior Rachel Chenard (Saco, Maine) eclipsed her personal-best time by almost five seconds in the race with a 5:10.47 effort to finish 12th. The senior tandem of Chloe Davis (Merrimack, N.H.) and Joleigh Ferro (Pittsfield, Mass.) both qualified for tonight's 100-backstroke final. Davis turned in a personal-best time of 1:04.27 to place 14th, while Ferro was right behind with a time of 1:04.48 to surpass her previous best by almost three seconds and secure a 15th-place result.
The day was capped by the 1000-yard freestyle, which is scored as a timed final, so all finishes count as points toward tonight's scoring. Simmons reaped the benefits of four swimmers in the scoring column, led by sophomore Emilie Lindholm (Sterling, Mass.), who just missed reaching All-NEISDA status with a ninth-place finish fueled by a personal-record time of 11:36.71 to best her time from last year's championship by nearly 15 seconds. Junior Alexandra Vutech (Woodstock, Vt.) kept pace with her teammate, improving on her personal-best time by nearly a staggering 54 seconds, at 11:40.85 to place 10th. Classmate Kevyn Lee (New York City, N.Y.) placed 14th with a time of 11:50.75 to best her personal-record by more than 14 seconds, while senior Kara Silva (Reading, Mass.) shattered her personal-best by almost 44 seconds, hitting the wall at 11:55.62 to finish 17th.
The Sharks head into tonight's finals, sitting in third place with a score of 357 points. The finals begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Tootell Aquatic Center.