WINTHROP, Mass. - The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team was chosen first in the 2015 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Coaches Poll. The Sharks received 49 points, including all seven first place votes.
Simmons has won 11 straight GNAC Championships and 13 of the last 14 and will host the 2015 Championship meet for the 10th straight year.
The Sharks won 16 of 21 events last year and broke 11 championship records. Simmons enters this year's title meet with four swimmers, who have combined to break eight individual GNAC records and also boast the top seeded entry in 18 of this year's 22 championship events.
The Sharks are led by junior Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.), who was named the 2013-14 GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year. Swisher owns five GNAC records in addition to being a part of two record-holding relay teams for Simmons. The junior has not lost a race in a dual meet this season and has won 12 of 14 events that she's entered, including an appearance at the New England Invitational earlier this season. Swisher is the top seed in this year's 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke and the 100-yard freestyle. She currently owns conference records in the 50, 100 and 200-freestyle events and will look to add the 200-backstroke as well.
Sophomore Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) burst onto the scene last season, setting a pair of GNAC standards in the 50 and 100-yard breaststroke. Giraldi was named GNAC Rookie of the Week a league high seven times last year and has earned Athlete of the Week accolades twice this year. She is the number one seed for the 50-yard breaststroke this year and won the event at the New England Invitational on November 7 and has not lost in three races this season. Classmate Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) dominated the butterfly events at last year's championship, winning the 50, 100 and 200-yard fly events, while also setting a new record in the 50-butterfly. Morris is the top seed in all three butterfly events going into this weekend's meet as well.
A pair of newcomers should make a significant impact at the Championship this season. Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) is a favorite to set meet records in the 500 and 1650-yard freestyle events. The first year has already earned GNAC Rookie of the Week honors three times this season and set the school record for the 500 freestyle. Simpson is the second-leading point-scorer for the Sharks this year, fueled by nine first place showings and is undefeated in distance events in dual meets. Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.) has been tabbled the weekly top rookie twice this season and has tallied 11 top-three finishes this year, including six first-place efforts. She's hit the wall first in the 100-yard individual medley, the 50 and 100-yard backstroke, the 100 and 200-yard freestyle. The rookie heads into the meet as the number one seed in the 100-individual medley.
Junior Alison Gauvin (Whitehead, Maine) made her collegiate debut on the diving board at last year's meet and since then has worked hard to become a legitimate threat for the all-conference squad as the top diver. She has consistently topped her best score week in and week out on the one-meter board and also added the three-meter board to her repertoire.