WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College's Mindy Williams (Hampstead, N.H.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year, while Miriam Swisher (Albuquerque, N.M.) was chosen the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year, it was announced today by the conference.
The following competitors also earned All-Conference status due to first place finishes at the GNAC Championship on December 3-4. Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.), Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.), Laura List (Bedford, Mass.), Jordan Mattheisen (Seattle, Wash.), Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.), Sarah Price (New York, N.Y.), Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.), Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.) and Swisher. Morris was also selected for the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team for the second straight year.
Williams caps the 2016-17 season by being named the GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year for the fifth consecutive season and sixth time overall. The award comes on the heels of her being chosen as the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Coach of the Year for the second time in four years after being named the top mentor in 2014 as well. She became the first coach since 2013 to win the NEISDA award multiple times.
The Sharks' skipper guided them to their 13th straight GNAC Championship in December and ninth during her tenure. In addition, she led the program to its highest finish in school history, placing second among 21 programs at the NEISDA Championship on February 16-19, while seeing nine Simmons competitors earn All-NEISDA status a combined 41 times, including 36 medal-efforts and 21 gold medallions. Williams accompanied seven Sharks to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Open Championship on March 3-5 and saw the squad turn in an eighth-place showing, which was the highest finish in school annals and the top effort by any Division III school in the meet. Simmons also broke eight school marks during the meet, including three relay records. The former Colby College standout directed the Sharks to their first perfect dual meet season in school history, posting a 12-0 mark, while seeing 14 school records fall during the campaign.
Williams' teams have compiled a 65-38 record during her nine years at the Fenway School, including 42-6 over the last four seasons for an 87.5% winning mark. Simmons has also showed a steady progression at the NEISDA Championship, ascending from 11th-place, in Williams' first year at the helm, to three straight years of third, prior to the team's second-place showing at this year's meet. In addition, the Sharks have broken 25 of the 27 individual and relay records that stand in the school's record books during her stay in Boston.
Swisher becomes just the second competitor in GNAC history and first since Elms College's Deveon DeGrazia in 2014 to earn Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year honors three straight times. The Albuquerque, N.M. native made her final campaign one to remember. She received the Hutchinson Award, given to the Swimmer of the Meet for the NEISDA Championship, for the second straight year to become the first swimmer to earn the honor multiple times since at least 2009. The senior earned seven gold medals, placing first in all three individual events that she entered and was a part of winning relay teams in all four races that she competed in. In addition to her winning ways during the meet, she also recorded a school-record time of 23.65 in a time trial to achieve the NCAA 'B' cut for the 50-yard freestyle. The La Cueva High School product became the only competitor in school history to win three individual races at NEISDA. In addition, Swisher was the recipient of the Kay Fromer Senior High Point Scoring Award handed out to the highest-scoring senior swimmer over the past four years.
To cap her career, the Exercise Science major shattered her own school record in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:52.17 to place first in the consolation finals and ninth overall at the ECAC Open Championship. She also helped Simmons set school standards in the 400-yard freestyle, 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay events at the championship event hosted by United States Naval Academy, while posting top-seven efforts in all five relay events at the meet. For the season, Swisher has been the definition of dominant, winning 23 of 24 individual races in dual meets and final heats of championship meets vs Division III competition. She has won all 13 freestyle events she has entered, ranging from the 50 to the 1000, as well as all 10 backstroke races she has entered against NCAA III competitors as well. Her only non-victory was a second-place effort in the 100-yard individual medley. The four-year swimmer was a part of six school records this season, including a pair of individual marks and earned GNAC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week honors a league-best three times. In December, Swisher was the high scorer at the GNAC Championship, winning all four individual events in conference-record times in addition to helping Simmons to a pair of relay titles, while also establishing new GNAC standards in those events as well.
Swisher has made a place for herself in history as Simmons' greatest swimmer of all. She racked up 110 top-three efforts, while placing first 95 times during her career in dual meets and final heats of championship meets for an 84.8 winning percentage. She holds six individual school records and has been a part of five school relay team standards in addition to a claim of seven pool standards. She earned 14 GNAC Individual Championships during her tenure, while owning 11 GNAC records. Swisher's success at the NEISDA Championship has been staggering over the past four years, seeing her achieve All-NEISDA status 25 times, including 24 medals – 12 golds, eight silvers and four bronzes. The four-year swimmer earned five gold medals, including two individual titles last year, while breaking a 13-year old meet record in the 200-yard freestyle with a mark of 1:52.85. She is the only competitor in school history to win multiple events in two different NEISDA Championship meets.
Morris was a part of five first place finishes to earn All-Conference status. The junior won the 50 and 100-yard butterfly events in GNAC-record time. She set a new mark of 1:00.38 in the 100, while also establishing a pool record in the 50 with a clip of 26.94. The Duxbury High School product also won the 200-yard butterfly and helped the Sharks top the 200 and 400-yard medley relay events, including a conference record-effort of 4:06.89 in the 400 race, which also went down as a pool record. In addition, Morris finished fourth in the GNAC 200-yard individual medley. The third-year swimmer dominated the butterfly events during the season, recording 16 top-three finishes, including 12 victories, while placing second, third and eighth in the 50, 100 and 200-yard butterfly events at the NEISDA Championship. She broke her own standard in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 26.78 and became the first competitor in school history to break the minute mark in the 100-butterfly with a time of 59.95 at the ECAC Open Championship. For her career, the Psychology major has won all nine butterfly events she's entered at the GNAC Championship since 2014 and has racked up 71 top-three finishes in dual meets or championship final heats, including 36 wins.
Simpson won the 500 and 1000-yard freestyle events as well as the 400-yard individual medley to receive All-Conference accolades in addition to helping the Sharks win the 800-yard freestyle relay. A graduate of Boyertown High School, Simpson set conference records in the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:57.14 and the 400-yard IM at 4:52.32, while helping Simmons break its own league and pool standard in the 800-free relay with a time of 8:01.03. She also placed third in the 200-yard freestyle at the Championship meet. The sophomore dominated the distance events during the season, posting 17 of her 25 top-three performances in either the 500, 1000 or 1650-yard freestyle events, including 13 of her 16 overall victories and was chosen as the GNAC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week once during the year. Simpson placed second in both the 500 and 1650 races at the NEISDA Championship and added a third-place effort in the 1000. She capped the season by placing eighth at the ECAC Open with a school-record time of 17:38.31 in the 1650, including a school-record 1000 time of 10:36.33. The Exercise Science major has already accumulated 54 top-three finishes in just two seasons, including 36 first-place efforts.
Samaniego earned All-Conference recognition after winning the three-meter diving event with 286.80 points following her 11 dives. The first year also placed fifth on the one-meter board with a season-best score of 269.60 points at the NEISDA Championship. A graduate of Avon High School, Samaniego posted seven top-three finishes on the one-meter board, including three first-place finishes and placed top three on the three-meter board nine times, while winning the event five times.
Fleming helped the Sharks win a pair of relay events to give her All-Conference status. The sophomore was a part of the team's conference and pool-record relay squads in the 400-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle races, while placing second in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events as well as the 400-yard IM. The Northampton High School graduate also placed third in the GNAC 100-yard freestyle race. Fleming was one of the team's most versatile swimmers during the season, earning 22 top-three finishes in freestyle events, ranging in distance from the 50 to the 1000, while winning seven different events, including the 50, 100, 200 and 500-yard freestyle as well as the 50-yard backstroke and butterfly in addition to the 200-yard individual medley events. She finished second in both the 200 and 1000-yard freestyle races at the NEISDA Championship and placed third in the meet's 500-yard freestyle event. The Marketing Communications and Public Relations major was named the GNAC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week twice and also helped Simmons set relay records in the 400 and 800-yard freestyle as well as the 200-yard medley at the ECAC Open Championship. For her career, Fleming has turned in 56 top-three efforts, including 30 wins in just two years.
Price also helped the Sharks to a pair of relay wins at the GNAC Championship meet to earn All-Conference recognition. The senior swam on the team's 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relay squads. The four-year swimmer was a big contributor with 63 points at the GNAC Championship with second-place finishes in the 50 and 200-yard breaststroke races as well as a third-place showing in the 50-yard freestyle and a six-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle. A graduate of Rudolf Steiner in New York City, Price placed ninth in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle races at the NEISDA Championship to go with an 11th-place effort in the 50-yard freestyle. She posted 22 top-five finishes during the season, including a victory in the 500-yard freestyle vs. Saint Joseph's College (Maine) and Western New England University on November 19. The Co-Captain was also a part of the team's 800-yard freestyle record breaking effort at the ECAC Open Championship. Price finished her career with 62 top-three showings, including eight victories.
Giraldi helped the Sharks win the 400-yard medley relay, swimming the breaststroke leg to earn All-Conference status. The junior also placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke in addition to sixth-place efforts in the 50-yard freestyle and 50-yard butterfly events at the GNAC meet. The Bedford High School product got stronger as the season went on, winning both the 50 and 100-yard breaststroke events at the NEISDA Championship to become just the third competitor in school history to win multiple events at meet. She also added a second-place showing in the 100-yard individual medley in a school-record time of 1:01.54. The Exercise Science major went on to set her third individual school record of the season with a time of 1:05.83 in the 100-yard breaststroke at the ECAC Open Championships and placed 12th in the event. For the season, she posted 19 top-three finishes, including 13 wins. For her career, Giraldi owns four individual school records and has been a part of three relay marks. She has recorded 73 top-three finishes, including 41 wins during her impressive career.
Mattheisen earned All-Conference honors following her leg on the winning 200-yard medley relay team for Simmons at the GNAC Championship. The senior also scored points by placing fifth in both the 50 and 100-yard breaststroke to go with a ninth-place effort in the 50-yard freestyle. A graduate of Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Mattheisen earned 13 top-five finishes for the year, including a win in the 200-yard freestyle vs. Plymouth State University on January 7. The Biochemistry major closed out her career with 51 top-three efforts, including six wins for the Sharks.
List was named to the All-Conference squad as part of the team's winning 200-yard medley relay team. The first year was also impressive in her individual events, finishing second in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, while placing fourth in the 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard backstroke. The Bedford High School graduate made a splash at the NEISDA Championship as well, finishing second in the 100-yard freestyle, third in the 50-yard freestyle and ninth in the 100-yard backstroke. The rookie also contributed to the 400-yard freestyle relay squad's school-record time of 3:31.75 at the ECAC Open Championship. The Nursing major finished her first year with 19 top-three finishes and eight victories and was named the GNAC Rookie of the Week once during the season.