Williams Named NEISDA Coach of the Year; Scholand Named Swimmer of the Meet

Williams Named NEISDA Coach of the Year; Scholand Named Swimmer of the Meet

WESTON, Mass. – Simmons College's Mindy Williams (Hampstead, N.H.) was named the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Women's Charles Silvia Coach of the Year, while sophomore Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) was selected the Bruce Hutchinson Women's Swimmer of the Meet, following the NEISDA Championship on February 15-18 in Kingston, R.I. at host University of Rhode Island, it was announced by the organization. 

Williams receives the honor for the second straight year and the third time in five years to become the first mentor since 2013 to be named NEISDA's top coach more than two times and is the first coach to win the award two years in a row since 2012. 

The 10th-year coach guided the Sharks to their first-ever NEISDA Championship during the weekend of February 15-18, bringing home a 39-point victory over runner-up Roger Williams University. Williams saw her team win six individual events and three relays, while 14 of its 19 student-athletes earned All-NEISDA status by virtue of a top-eight individual finish or top-four relay placing. The Sharks combined to achieve All-NEISDA status 56 times and earned 39 medals with a first, second or third place effort during the meet in addition to breaking eight school records. 

The former Colby College standout directed Simmons to its fifth consecutive season with double-digit victories after posting an 11-2 dual meet record. The Sharks ran their consecutive victory streak to 15 after winning the first three dual-meets of the season to add to the team's perfect 12-0 mark from the previous year. Williams coached Simmons to its 14th straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship in December with 10 of those titles coming under her watch. 

Williams has enjoyed tremendous success in her decade at the Fenway school, compiling an 83-33 (71.6%) dual meet record, including 53-8 (86.9%) over the past five seasons. The Sharks have shown a steady progression at the NEISDA Championship, ascending from 11th-place, in Williams' first year at the helm, to three straight years of third, the runner-up trophy last year to this year's first place finish. In addition, Simmons has broken 26 of the 27 individual and relay records that stand in the school's record books during her stay in Boston. 

Scholand was named the Bruce Hutchinson Swimmer of the Meet 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 the NEISDA crown.  

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 Sandia High School product 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 current junior Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) 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.  

Scholand, previously qualified in the 1650-yard and 500-yard freestyle events at the NCAA Championship and will compete on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, Ind.