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WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College's Mindy Williams (Andover, Mass.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year and Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) was tabbed the conference Swimmer of the Year, it was announced today by the league.
The Sharks also earned the GNAC Institutional Sportsmanship Award as voted upon by the conference's seven head coaches and Alexandra Vutech (Woodstock, Vt.) was selected to the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
A Vermont native and current Andover (Mass.) resident, Williams earns Coach of the Year accolades for the third consecutive year and fourth time overall. The Simmons mentor was the architect of, arguably, the most successful season in program history, winning the GNAC Championship for the seventh straight year under her watch and the 11th consecutive year as a program. The former Colby College star also sent a full complement of student-athletes (18) to compete at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championships for the second straight season and guided the Sharks to a third-place showing for the second year in a row, while one of her swimmers captured an individual title. To cap the season, Williams coached a Simmons contingent at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships to a ninth-place finish among NCAA Division I, II and III programs, while topping all Division III schools in the program's first-ever appearance. The Sharks closed out their dual-meet results this season by winning five straight for a 10-2 record to tie the school standard for victories in a campaign, while setting 11 school records. Simmons also boasted the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week for each of the 11 reporting weeks as well as the Rookie of the Week for all but one week. The Sharks also had 21 different swimmers finish first or second in a race this past season, including 13 competitors, who hit the wall first in a race as a testament to Williams' ability to recruit top-notch student-athletes. Simmons also received NEISDA Team Sportsmanship Award and Fall Scholar All-America Team recognition from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.
Swisher was the most dominant swimmer in the conference, winning 31 of 39 individual events that she entered, including six of seven 100-yard freestyle races she competed in and was named the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week a conference-high eight times. The sophomore set three school records and was a part of four new relay standards for Simmons as well. The Physical Therapy major placed second in a pair of freestyle events at the 2015 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championships with a time of 1:55.15 in the 200 and 24.18 in the 50. She set a school record with a 50-yard backstroke split of 27.35 as part of a school relay-record time of 1:48.73 to place third in the 200-medley relay. Swisher also swam the lead in the 400-medley relay as part of a time of 3:57.36 for a third-place showing and anchored the Sharks' 200-yard freestyle relay's second-place effort with a time of 1:39.31.
The second-year swimmer competed in seven events at the ECAC Championship, including three individual races and broke her own school mark with a time of 1:54.81 in the 200-yard freestyle to place 20th in the preliminaries. Swisher swam in the consolation finals in both the 100 and 50-yard freestyle events, placing 13th (52.31) and 12th (24.01), respectively. The La Cueva High School product swam the lead leg in all four relays for Simmons, swimming the backstroke laps of the 400-yard medley relay to help the squad to a fourth-place finals finish on a school-record effort of 3:56.80. She led off on the Sharks' school-record time of 1:37.71 in the team's sixth-place finals showing in the 200-yard freestyle relay as well and also led off the 400-yard freestyle relay during an eighth-place showing on a time of 3:38.99. The quartet had broken the school mark in the event's preliminary heat earlier in the day with a time of 3:37.74. Swisher was the top scorer for the Sharks at the GNAC Championship on December 6-7 with 36 points after winning all four events that she entered, while setting three GNAC and two pool records. The sophomore won the 50-yard freestyle (24.40), 200-freestyle with a GNAC record (1:57.57) and set GNAC and pool records in the 50-backstroke (27.36) and the 100-freestyle (51.75), while also making the NCAA qualifier 'B' cut in the 100. In addition, she was a part of Simmons' 400-medley relay team that set a GNAC record with a time of 4:10.25 and helped the Sharks win the 200-free relay as well with a mark of 1:42.64.
The sophomore has been exceptional throughout her career at Simmons, winning 55 of 74 individual events, including 17 of 21 backstroke races, ranging from the 50 to the 200, while winning 11 of 15 100-yard freestyle events. Swisher also owns five individual school records and has been part of five team relay marks, while owning four conference standards and four Holmes Sports Center Natatorium records.