Swimming & Diving to Compete at 2016 NEISDA Championship

BOSTON, Mass. - The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team will compete at the 2016 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship on February 12-14 in South Kingston, R.I. on the campus of host University of Rhode Island.

2016 NEISDA Information

BOSTON, Mass. -
The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team will compete at the 2016 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship on February 12-14 in South Kingston, R.I. on the campus of host University of Rhode Island.

For the third year in a row, the Sharks will send the full complement of 18 competitors to Southern Rhode Island and for the third straight year will look to capture a top-three finish. Simmons has firmly established itself as one of the top swimming & diving programs in the region over the past few years. The Sharks began a positive trend with an 11th-place showing in 2012, followed by an eight-place finish in 2013 and back-to-back third-place efforts the past two seasons. Simmons has been bolstered by its depth and the strength of its relays, which will be the case again this year.

"During the past few years, we have worked hard to establish ourselves as one of the
stronger teams in New England," said Head Coach Mindy Williams. "Our top athletes are among the best in New England, and as a team we intend to uphold our reputation within the top three.  Every single athlete that will be competing for Simmons, will contribute to our team's score.  We are going into this meet, not just with versatility, but we depth as well."

The Sharks will also look to score big points in the distance events as well as on the diving board this season.

Simmons ranked third throughout the season in four of the five relay events and did not swim in the 800-freestyle this year. The Sharks bring three of the top seven seeded swimmers from the 200-yard freestyle, so their chances are excellent at duplicating their relay crown from two years ago in the event. Simmons will be very familiar with its competition this weekend as well, going undefeated in dual meet action against nine schools that will send competitors to the meet.

The Sharks are led by junior Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.). The West Coast native is no stranger at the Tootell Aquatic Center at URI. She has finished second in all six events that she's entered in South Kingston. She was the runner-up in the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyle events in both 2014 and 2015. This year, Swisher will substitute the 200-yard backstroke for the 50-yard freestyle, while still competing in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle races. She enters the field in search of her first individual title with the six-seeded time for the 200-back, while sitting as the second seed in the 200-free and the third seed for the 100-free. Swisher holds school records for the two freestyle events and will look to add the school standard for the 200-backstroke to her program marks for the 50 and 100-back events. 

Sophomore Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) burst onto the scene as a rookie last year by winning the 50-yard breaststroke at NEISDA. She continued to excel in breaststroke events, placing third in the 100 and fourth in the 200-yard events. She's in good position to defend her crown in the 50 this year at NEISDA with the top-seeded time. Giraldi is also slotted second in the 100 and fifth in the 200, but has posted previous times in the event that could see her challenging for a win. Newcomer Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) has made an immediate impact as a top swimmer in the distance events. The first year broke school records in the 500, 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle events and has also been strong in the 200-freestyle. She heads into the weekend as the number two seed in the 500, 1000 and 1650, while holding a fourth seed in the 200. She's already been named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week four times and is primed for an outstanding debut at NEISDA.

Sophomore Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) finished among the top eight in a pair of butterfly events last year, placing fifth in the 50 and seventh in the 100. Morris is looking to repeat her success from a year ago as th fourth seed in both the 50 and 200 races, while holding down a number eight seed in the 100. She's already shown her ability to take it up a notch with a school-record showing in the 50 at the GNAC Championship in December. First year Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.) is looking to make a splash in her debut at New Englands. She's already made a name for herself as the GNAC Rookie of the Week four times. The rookie will show her range as the fourth seed in the 500-yard freestyle in addition to owning the fifth-seeded time in the 100-yard freestyle. Her seventh seeded mark in the 200-yard freestyle gives Simmons three competitors among the top seven seeded swimmers in the event. Junior Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) has proven to rise to the occasion at NEISDA, placing among the top 12 six times, including a fifth-place showing in the 400-yard individual medley in 2014 and a seventh-place effort last year in the event. She's also scored points in the 200-IM and the 200-yard breaststroke. She enters the weekend as the 11th seed in the 400-IM with an eye on finishing much higher. Plourde is the ninth seed in the 200-breaststroke and is slotted 10th for the 200-IM.

Junior Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine) jumps into the mix with the potential to score big points for the Sharks. She took up diving just a year ago and became the first Simmons diving qualifier at NEISDA since 2010. Gauvin won the GNAC title on both the one and three-meter boards in December and is looking to make a big impact for the Sharks. A pair of rookies in Charlotte Rivard (Norwood, Mass.) and Jason Erichsen (Banks, Ore.) have also shown success this year and will look to score points for Simmons. Rivard is seeded 11th in the 100-yard individual medley and 12th in the 50-yard butterfly with designs on cracking the top eight in both events, while also looking to finish among the top 16 in the 200-IM. Erichsen has been strong in the breaststroke this season and is the 12th seed in the 200-yard race with a chance to break into the top eight. The first year will also look to score in the 100-breaststroke as the number 16 seed. Senior Alex Vutech (Woodstock, Vt.) will look to go out with a flourish in the distance events as her collegiate career winds down. She was a big-time performer at the GNAC Championship and is in the hunt to finish among the top 16 in three events at NEISDA this year. Her spririted effort in the 500-yard freestyle at GNACs earned her a 17th seed in the event for this weekend  in addition to a pair of number 16 seeds in the 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle races.

First year Kara Smith (Eastham, Mass.) has a shot at placing among the top eight as the 12th seed in the 200-yard butterfly for the Sharks, while sophomore Lindsay Nichols (Kennebunk, Maine) will also look to score in the event as the number 16 seed. Nichols knows what it takes to compete at the NEISDA meet after placing 14th in the 200-yard individual medley last year. Junior Sarah Price (New York, N.Y.) is among five swimmers entered into the 200-yard breaststroke for Simmons and will look to challenge for a top-eight placing as the 14th seed. She was a top-16 finisher in two events in 2014. Junior Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) heads into the weekend as the 12th seed in the 100-yard individual medley for the Sharks. She finished 11th in the race in 2014 as part of two top-16 efforts that year at NEISDA. Junior Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.) will challenge for points as the 16th seed in the 50-yard breaststroke. She placed 14th in the race last year and finished the weekend with a pair of top-16 efforts. Senior Rachel Chenard (Saco, Maine) is making her third appearance at NEISDA. She is seeded in both the 200 and 400-yard individual medley. The veteran placed 11th in both events last year and will look to repeat that success again this year.

Senior Kirsten Vickey (Taunton, Mass.) competed at NEISDA in 2014 for Simmons and will add depth in the backstroke events as well as enhance a stacked contingent for the Sharks in the 200-yard individual medley. Sophomore Abigail Gonzalez (Kennesaw, Ga.) makes her NEISDA debut this weekend. She'll also add support in the IM events, while looking to score in the 200-yard butterfly, following a personal-best time in the event just over a month ago.