WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College's Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week for the week of February 12-18, it was announced today by the league.
Scholand has been named the conference's top athlete three times to tie for the most of any honoree this season. There have been six weeks with a Shark named as the top weekly athlete including the prior two weeks of October 16-22 and January 1-7 for Scholand in addition to the week of January 29 to February 4 for junior Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) and the weeks of October 23-29 and November 6-12 for junior Jason Erichsen (Banks, Ore.).
A graduate of Sandia High School, Scholand was named the Swimmer of the Meet at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship after breaking three school and meet records to capture a trio of gold medals in her individual events, while helping Simmons win the 800 and 400-yard freestyle relay events in addition to a second-place showing in the 200-yard freestyle to help the Sharks to their first-ever NEISDA Championship.
The sophomore shattered the 22-year old NEISDA record for the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:55.51 to erase the former mark of 17:14.59 set in 1996 by Heidi George of Middlebury College. Her winning time in the 1650 also broke the University of Rhode Island's Tootell Aquatics Center pool record by more than six seconds, formerly set by Christine Agnew on March 12, 1989, and erased her own school standard by more than 13 seconds. Scholand is also just the second competitor in school history to win three individual gold medals during the NEISDA meet and the only competitor in school history to break three meet records. The second-year swimmer posted a time of 10:09.47 to top the field in the 1000-yard freestyle by more than 47 seconds, while erasing the former NEISDA standard of 10:29.19 set by Keene State College's Hope Walsh at last year's championship meet. The time also shattered the former school mark of 10:36.33 set by Simpson in 2017. She won the 500-yard freestyle by more than 11 seconds and broke the NEISDA mark by just over two seconds with a time of 4:56.98 to clip the former mark of 4:59.04 set by Gordon College's India Boland in 2015. The winning time also erased Scholand's own school-record mark of 5:01.81 set in December and was good for the NCAA Championship 'B' cut. Scholand swam the lead leg of the 800-freestyle relay, followed by Simpson, junior Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.) and first year Maria Soraghan (East Hampstead, N.H.) to combine on a time of 7:48.37. She was the catalyst in the winning 400-freestyle relay a well with Fleming, Soraghan and sophomore Laura List (Bedford, Mass.) completing the race with a mark of 3:34.38. Scholand swam the second leg of the 200-freestyle relay after Fleming's lead leg and before senior Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H) and List to contribute to a time of 1:38.75.
Scholand has established herself as one of the premier distance swimmers in the nation as evidenced by her NEISDA Championship 1650 time, which stands as the fourth-fastest mark in all of NCAA Division III and guarantees her a spot in next month's NCAA Championship meet. She has won 18 of 19 races this year from the 500 to 1650-yard freestyle range and is undefeated in four 1650 events and six 1000-yard entries. The West Coast native has posted 26 top-three finishes in 28 events, including 24 victories and has tallied 278 points to lead Simmons. Scholand has put together two separate event winning streaks of six or more, including a seven-race victory stretch from December 2, 2017 to January 13, 2018. The Neuroscience and Behavior major opened eyes immediately at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship in December by obliterating the conference record in the 1650 by nearly 50 seconds and the pool record by 14-plus seconds. Scholand also set GNAC and pool records in the 500-yard and 200-yard freestyle, respectively, as part of a 74-point tally to tie for the most points scored in the championship meet for the Sharks.
The New Mexico resident transferred to Simmons prior to the season from Division I Evansville University, where she was named the Purple Aces' Most Improved Newcomer following her first year of collegiate competition. She also finished sixth in the 1650-yard freestyle at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship during her rookie campaign.
The Sharks finished their dual meet season with an 11-2 overall record to register double-digit wins for the fifth straight season and also won their 14th straight GNAC Championship in December. Simmons will compete again on Friday, February 23 as it travels to New Brunswick, N.J. for the three-day Eastern College Athletic Conference Open Championships, hosted by Rutgers University.