WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College Head Women's Swimming & Diving Coach Mindy Williams (Andover, Mass.) was named the 2015-16 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year, while Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) was voted the league's Female Athlete of the Year and Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) was chosen the GNAC Rookie of the Year it was announced today by the conference. Simmons sweeps all three major awards for the first time during the Williams era at the school and becomes the first school to do it since Elms College in 2010-11.
The following competitors also earned All-Conference status due to first place finishes at the GNAC Championship on December 5-6. Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.), Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine), Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.), Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.), Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.), Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.), Lindsay Nichols (Kennebunk, Maine), Sarah Price (New York, N.Y.), Simpson and Swisher. Morris was also selected for the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
Williams earns the top coaching accolade for the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time overall. The Simmons mentor enjoyed another stellar season, leading the Sharks to the GNAC Championship for the eighth straight season, while directing them to a third-place showing at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championships for the third year in a row, fueled by four individual titles. Simmons was also the top-finishing NCAA Division III school at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships and placed 11th overall among Division I, II and III institutions. The Sharks broke 11 school records this season and have set 25 program standards in Williams' eight-year tenure at the Fenway school. Simmons finished the season with a 10-2 dual-meet record to match the school's highest win mark for the fourth straight season and has posted a 40-11 (.784) dual meet record over the last four years. During the Vermont native's time in Boston, Williams has coached three GNAC Athletes of the Year and seen a trio of competitors named Rookie of the Year. Simmons boasted the GNAC Athlete of the Week nine times this season, while having the Rookie of the Week come out of the school in all 11 reporting periods. Under her watch, 22 of 29 Sharks posted a top-two finish in meets this year, including 14 different first place finishers.
Swisher repeats as the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year and becomes the first Shark to do so in at least a decade. She also earned GNAC Athlete of the Week honors five times to lead the conference in addition to being named the ECAC Swimmer of the Week once. Swisher set five individual school records and helped Simmons break one relay mark this season, while posting 26 top-three finishes, including 24 first-place efforts. She was one of the top swimmers in the nation all season, posting NCAA "B" cut qualifying times in five different events (50, 100 & 200-yard freestyle and 100 & 200-yard backstroke). A graduate of La Cueva High School, Swisher earned the Bruce Hutchinson Female Swimmer of the Meet award after winning a pair of events in school-record times at the NEISDA Championships from February 12-14 and earning All-NEISDA status in seven events, including four relay races. She claimed the 200-yard freestyle in a meet-record time of 1:52.85 to better the former mark from 1993, while capturing the title in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:03.85 to become the first competitor in school history to win multiple events at NEISDA. She also placed second in the 100-yard freestyle at the meet with a mark of 51.90. The junior did not lose a freestyle race in the 50 or 100-yard events in dual meets, going a combined 9-0, while winning all five 50-yard backstroke races and all three 200-yard backstroke events that she entered. Swisher placed 19th at the ECAC Championships in three events and set a school record in the 50-yard backstroke with a split of 26.95 in the opening leg of the 200-yard medley relay. Despite fighting illness, Swisher earned All-Conference status earlier in the season when she won the 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard backstroke at the GNAC Championship in December and helped Simmons break a pair of GNAC relay records with a time of 1:51.58 in the 200-yard medley relay and a clip of 3:45.59 to eclipse the former standard in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
An Exercise Science major, Swisher made a place for herself in history as the Sharks' greatest swimmer of all time and has racked up 88 top-three efforts, while placing first 80 times during her career. The junior has been named the GNAC Athlete of the Week 16 times for her time at Simmons. She currently holds six individual school records and has been a part of five school relay team standards. She has earned All-NEISDA status in 18 events during her career and has earned 10 GNAC Individual Championships during her three-year tenure.
Simpson becomes the second Shark to earn top rookie honors in the past three years for Simmons. The first year swimmer established herself as the greatest distance swimmer in school history after breaking school marks in the 500, 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle events. She was also named the GNAC Rookie of the Week a league-high five times and was tabbed the ECAC New England Rookie of the Week twice. Simpson joined Swisher as just one of two Sharks in school history to earn multiple wins at the NEISDA Championships. The Boyertown High School product also earned All-NEISDA status in six different events by virtue of finishing among the top eight in three individual events and the top four in three relay races. Simpson won the 500-yard freestyle with a school-record time of 5:08.77 and erased the school mark in the 1000-yard freestyle by more than 10 seconds to win her second NEISDA crown. She finished second in the 1650-yard freestyle, eclipsing the school standard by more than 11 seconds with a time of 17:46.95. The first year dominated the freestyle events from 200 to 1650 yards in her rookie season, winning 17 of 25 races that she entered, including all five 200-yard races in dual meet competition. Simpson racked up a meet-high 76 points, while capturing titles in the 200, 500 and 1650-yard freestyle events at the GNAC Championship in December. She shattered the GNAC record in the 1650 with a time of 17:58.42 and also surged past the conference mark in the 500 with a clip of 5:11.84. She first opened eyes during her rookie campaign when she placed second in the 500-yard freestyle at the New England Invitational on November 7. Overall, she's turned in 29 top-three finishes, including 20 first place showings.
Morris earned All-Conference accolades after winning the 50, 100, and 200-yard butterfly events with GNAC-record times and helping Simmons win the 400-yard medley relay in GNAC-record time. The sophomore also set a school mark in winning the 50-yard race with a time of 27.38, while posting times of 1:01.85 and 2:18.91 in the 100 and 200-yard events as part of a 76-point effort to match Simpson as the highest-scoring competitor at the championship meet. The Duxbury High School graduate placed fourth in the 200-yard fly at the NEISDA Championship and fifth in the 100-yard fly in a school-record time of 1:00.08. She won 13 of 25 butterfly events that she entered this season. For her career, she has posted 54 top-three finishes, including 29 victories and was named the GNAC Rookie of the Year three times as a first year.
One of two first years to earn All-Conference honors for the Sharks, Fleming won the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard individual medley with personal-record times of 25.49 and 1:03.45, respectively, and contributed to the team's win in the 200-yard medley relay at the GNAC Championship. The Northampton High School product posted 25 top three-finishes in lengths ranging from 50 to 500 yards, while placing first nine times. The rookie came up big, swimming the 500-yard freestyle for just the third time this season and placed second at the NEISDA Championships with a personal-best mark of 5:10.37 on February 12. Fleming also placed third in the 200-freestyle and fourth in the 100-freestyle at NEISDA.
Giraldi posted a pair of wins at the GNAC Championship to earn All-Conference status. The sophomore broke GNAC records in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 31.13 and the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:07.40. She also helped Simmons win the 200-freestyle relay. A graduate of Bedford High School, Giraldi recorded 37 top-three finishes and 12 wins. She did not finish lower than third in any dual meet this season and dominated the 50 and 100 breaststroke events, finishing either first or second 15 times. Giraldi placed second at the NEISDA Championships in the 50-breaststroke with a mark of 30.86, while finishing fourth in the 100-breaststroke. The Physical Therapy major was named the GNAC Athlete of the Week twice this season and was tabbed the league's Rookie of the Week a conference-high seven times last season. For her career she has recorded 72 top-three efforts, including 29 wins.
The Sharks' first GNAC Champion diver since 2013, Gauvin won both the one-meter event with a mark of 340.25 points in 11 dives and topped the three-meter board with a score of 159.55 points in six dives. The junior, who took up diving just a year ago, continually improved her scores throughout the season, posting a personal-best mark of 187.70 points in six dives on the one meter board at Mount Holyoke College on January 30. She also totaled 197.60 points at Babson College on December 1. The Erskine Academy product placed first or second six times on the one-meter board in dual meet competition, including four victories, while winning three of four outings on the three-meter board. Gauvin qualified to compete at the NEISDA Championships, but was unable to dive due to injury. She was named the GNAC Athlete of the Week for the week of January 4-10.
Price earned a place on the All-Conference team after helping Simmons win the 200-yard freestyle relay. The junior also placed third in the 50-yard freestyle at the GNAC Championship. She earned GNAC Athlete of the Week honors for the week of January 18-24 after scoring a meet-high 22 points in the Sharks' win at Western New England University on January 23. A graduate of Rudolf Steiner School, Price tallied 15 top-three finishes and won three events, while competing primarily in freestyle events. She placed 10th at the NEISDA Championship with a personal-best time of 2:02.88 in the 200-freestyle and was 11th with a personal-record time of 56.74 in the 100-freestyle. Price finished the season as the team's eighth-leading scorer. She has racked up 49 top-three finishes for her career.
Mattheisen and Nguyen were both part of the team's victories in the 400-freestyle relay and the 400-medley relay at the GNAC Championship to earn All-Conference accolades. The pair helped the Sharks break the conference mark in the 400-freestyle relay with a time of 3:45.59. Mattheisen registered 13 top-three finishes for the season and placed fifth in both the 100 and 200-yard freestyle at the GNAC Championship for the Sharks. The junior turned in a 10th-place showing in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 33.50 at the NEISDA Championship. A graduate of the Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Mattheisen has posted 41 top-three efforts for her career. Nguyen enjoyed the best season of her career, placing third in the 100-yard individual medley at the GNAC Championship and earned All-NEISDA status after placing eighth in the event with a personal-best mark of 1:05.80. In addition, the junior finished eighth at the NEISDA Championships in the 200-individual medley with a time of 2:23.63 and 11th in the 200-freestyle with a personal-best mark of 2:04.73. The Salem High School product finished the season ranked eighth in scoring for Simmons and has 40 top-three finishes for her career.
Nichols was a part of the Sharks' winning 400-yard medley relay squad at the GNAC Championship to earn a spot on the All-Conference team. The sophomore finished fourth in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly events at the GNAC Championship and also posted a 13th-place effort at the NEISDA Championship with a time of 2:30.62 in the 200-butterfly. In addition, the Kennebunk High School product placed fifth in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley at the GNAC title meet to show her versatility. She finished the season with a dozen top-three outings and has registered 24 for her career.