KINGSTON, R.I. - The Simmons College Swimming & Diving team saw 12 entrants qualify for the finals of the 2016 New England Swimming & Diving Association Championship and three school records fall on day one of the preliminaries this morning at host University of Rhode Island's Tootell Aquatics Center in Kingston, R.I. The finals will begin tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Junior Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) shattered the 17-year old school record for the 200-yard backstroke by more than four seconds with a time of 2:05.56 for the Sharks. Jenna Blongiewicz set the former standard in 1999. Swisher's time earns her the top seed in tonight's finals. Swisher also broke her own school mark in the 100-yard backstroke, clocking an opening split of 57.43 in the opening leg of Simmons' 400-yard medley relay effort. The time also earned Swisher NCAA "B" cut qualifying status. Sophomore Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) swam the breaststroke leg of the relay, followed by classmate Michaela Morris' (Duxbury, Mass.) butterfly clip and first year Kerry Fleming's (Northampton, Mass.) freestyle effort to combine for a time of 4:00.71 to earn the number one seed for the finals.
Swisher and the 400-yard medley relay team both outperformed their respective seeds heading into the morning's preliminaries in what has become a trademark of the Sharks. Simmons saw 13 other entries better their respective seeds on the day as well. The Sharks will have nine of their 12 final entries locked in for a top-eight spot in tonight's finals.
Morris secured the fifth seed for the 100-yard butterfly when she clipped her own school record in the event with a time of 1:00.08. First year Kara Smith (Eastham, Mass.) had an impressive showing, claiming the 12th seed after coming into the event as the 21st seed. She turned in a personal-best time of 1:03.43. Smith wasn't the only one to open some eyes in the morning session. Junior Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) entered the 200-yard individual medley as the 24th seed and will go into tonight's final as the eighth seed after topping her previous best time by more than five seconds with a time of 2:21.49. Junior Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) clocked in at 2:19.34 to settle in as the seventh seed for tonight and first year Charlotte Rivard (Norwood, Mass.) posted a time of 2:23.96 to take the 12th seed and better her previous record time by more than two seconds.
Simmons' most prolific showing of the morning may have been in the 500-yard freestyle. First year Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) earned the number one seed with a time of 5:12.12, while Fleming was right behind her at 5:14.85 to claim the third seed. Giraldi locked down the number three seed with a time of 30.87 as she looks to defend her crown in tonight's 50-yard breaststroke final. Junior Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.) will join her in the event as the number 12 seed following her personal-best mark of 33.21.
The Sharks opened the morning by grabbing the sixth seed in the 200-yard freestyle with Giraldi leading off, followed by Mattheisen and Nguyen and Simpson closing it out to register a collective time of 1:44.47.