WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College's Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Rookie of the Week for the week of February 23 to March 1, it was announced today by the league.
The award marks the 11th straight reporting period that the Sharks have earned the honor from the GNAC. Giraldi has earned the GNAC accolade a league-high seven times for the weeks of October 27 to November 2, November 3-9, November 10-16, December 1-7, February 9-15 and February 16-22, while first year Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.)was tabbed for the weeks of December 1-7, January 5-11, January 12-18 and January 26 to February 1. First year diver Leyan Li (Deerfield, N.H.) was chosen for the award for January 19-25.
Giraldi competed in three individual events and two relay races for Simmons at the 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Open Championships at host University of Pittsburgh from February 27 to March 1. She placed 16th in the consolation finals of the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:08.35 on February 28, following her personal-record time of 1:06.91 in the preliminaries of the event. The first year swimmer capped the weekend by finishing 22nd in the 200-yard breaststroke preliminaries with a mark of 2:34.39. She also showed her range by placing 35th in the 50-yard freestyle preliminaries with a personal-best effort of 25.10. The rookie swam the breaststroke leg of both the 200 and 400-yard medley relay events for the Sharks as well. She was part of the 400-medley relay squad that posted a school-record time of 3:56.80 to finish fourth in the finals, while helping the 200-medley relay unit register a ninth-place finish with a time of 1:49.53.
The Bedford High School graduate has been outstanding in her first collegiate year of swimming, winning 17 of 33 races that she's scored in, including 13 of 23 breaststroke events. The Physical Therapy major rose to the challenge on one of the biggest stages of her collegiate career, winning the 50-yard breaststroke crown with a time of 30.65 at the 2015 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Championships on February 13-14. The rookie had set a school record in the event in the preliminaries with a mark of 30.63 earlier in the day. She also placed third in the 100-breaststroke with a personal-best time of 1:07.16. Giraldi helped the Sharks break the 200-medley relay record, swimming the breaststroke leg as part of a new school standard of 1:48.73, while helping the 400-medley relay team turn in a time of 3:57.36 to record third-place showings in each race. She also swam the second leg of the 200-freestyle relay, helping the Sharks secure a second-place finish with a mark of 1:39.31. The first-year swimmer came back the next week to break her own school mark in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:28.41 at the NEISDA Time Trials.
Giraldi first opened eyes on the college scene when she racked up 32 points to tie for the second-most at the GNAC Swimming & Diving Championships on December 6-7. She boasted two first place finishes and a pair of second place efforts. The first year set a pair of conference and pool records with her two wins, posting a time of 31.28 in the 50-yard breaststroke and a mark of 1:07.84 in the 100-breaststroke. The rookie finished second in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:33.51 and was also second in the 50-freestyle at 25.32.
The Sharks finished, perhaps, the most successful season in school history with a ninth-place showing at the ECAC Championships, while topping all Division III schools at the meet. Simmons closed out its dual-meet results this season by winning five straight for a 10-2 record to tie the school standard for victories in a campaign. The Sharks won their 11th consecutive GNAC Championship earlier in the season and finished third for the second straight year at the NEISDA Championships. The team also broke 11 school records.