WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons University's Mindy Williams (Hampstead, N.H.) was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Coach of the Year, while 14 Simmons swimming & diving student-athletes earned All-Conference honors it was announced today by the conference.
Williams earns Coach of the Year honors for the eighth consecutive year and a conference record ninth time overall. Seniors Laura List (Bedford, Mass.), Haley McCurdy (Framingham, Mass.), Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.), Áine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.), earned a spot on the All-GNAC squad in addition to juniors Annie Lam (Natick, Mass.), Anna Leedham (Lowell, Mass.), Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.), Olivia Walz (Natick, Mass.), sophomores Lauren Howard (Abington, Mass.), Natalie Krieg (Cambridge, Mass.) and Sarah Singleton (Mission Hills, Calif.) and first years Meg Driscoll (Haverhill, Mass.), Eva Piernas (Hopkinton, N.H.) and Katelyn Quinlan (Haverhill, Mass.).
Williams was voted top coaching honors by her peers after guiding the Sharks to their 16th straight GNAC Championship and 12th with Williams providing direction. Williams also directed Simmons to a runner-up finish at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Championship in addition to seeing the Sharks qualify for a spot at the NCAA Division III National Championship meet. Simmons also broke a pair of school records during the season under her watch.
The Sharks left no doubt in winning the GNAC crown, compiling a decisive margin of 489.5 points, while winning 10 of 22 events and breaking a pair of conference records in the process. Simmons' second-place showing at the NEISDA Championship marked the fourth straight year that the Sharks finished either first or second at the meet. The well-respected coach saw her charges win 10 individual events and all three freestyle relay races during the meet and saw 13 competitors combine to achieve All-NEISDA status 53 times by virtue of a top-eight individual or top-four finish in a relay. The Sharks also combined to win 37 medals, including 23 golds during the meet. Williams is also the only coach in the league to have her team qualify for the NCAA Championship and boast an All-American. As a testament to her coaching prowess, Williams saw every swimmer on the roster establish a personal record time in at least one event this season. The Simmons mentor guided the team to a winning dual-meet record (6-5) for the eighth season in a row as well, including her 100th career coaching victory.
Williams has enjoyed tremendous success in just over a decade at the Fenway school, compiling a 100-40 (71.4%) dual-meet record, including 70-15 (82.4%) over the past seven campaigns. The Sharks have shown a steady progression at the NEISDA Championship, ascending from 11th-place, in Williams' first year as the team's mentor, to three straight years of third, the runner-up trophy in 2017 to a pair of crowns in succession in 2018 and 2019 and another second-place effort this past season. 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 earns All-Conference honors for the third straight season and is the only member of the All-Conference squad who is also an All-American this season. She was named GNAC Athlete of the Week a league-high four times and was one of two competitors to earn All-Conference status in six different events for the Sharks with individual wins in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke and a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly. Scholand also helped Simmons win the 400-yard freestyle and medley relays as well as the 200-yard freestyle relay in conference record time and was the only competitor at the GNAC Championship to walk away with five gold medals. She earned All-America honors for the third straight year after qualifying for the NCAA Championship in the 1650-yard freestyle and is the only student-athlete in school history to be named an All-American three times. The New Mexico native's winning time of 17:05.81 at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship on February 16 ranked as the 10th-fastest in NCAA Division III this season and was one of five events that she owned the fastest time in among GNAC swimmers to go with the 200, 500, 1000-yard freestyle events and the 100-yard backstroke. The Sandia High School product was the top scorer at the NEISDA Championship for the third straight year and received the Bruce Hutchinson Award as the Swimmer of the Meet for the second time in three years to join Miriam Swisher (2013-17) as the only student-athletes in school annals to earn the honor more than once. She helped Simmons to a runner-up team finish with three individual first place finishes at the NEISDA Championship meet. The senior also contributed to a trio of relay wins for the Sharks and a second-place showing to attain All-NEISDA status in the maximum seven events. Scholand's trio of victories made her the only swimmer in school history to win all three of her individual events in three different years. She won the 1650-yard freestyle by more than 84 seconds and also won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:59.30 to win by more than 21 seconds. Scholand won her third distance event with a mark of 10:15.75 to capture the 1000-yard freestyle by more than 48 seconds. The Co-Captain opened the winning 800-yard freestyle for the Sharks and helped them post a time of 7:57.48 to go with a winning mark of 3:35.32 in the 400-yard freestyle relay that she swam third in. She again swam third in the 200-yard freestyle relay to contribute to the team's first-place time of 1:39.26 and helped Simmons place second in the 400-yard medley relay as the opening backstroke leg to combine on a time of 4:02.78. The Neuroscience and Behavior major was one of the most dominant distance swimmers in the nation this season, posting an undefeated record in all freestyle races more than 500 yards, including three entries in the 1650-yard freestyle and seven starts in the 1000-yard freestyle. Scholand also won five of six 500-yard freestyle races as part of 20 wins for the year and 25 top-three finishes. In addition, she had three first-place efforts in the 100-yard backstroke.
List helped the Sharks win six events at the GNAC Championship to earn All-Conference honors for the third time in her career. The senior won the GNAC title in the 100-yard freestyle and added a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle with a personal-record time of 1:58.76 to go with a third-place effort in the 50-yard backstroke. The Nursing major also helped Simmons win the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays as well as the 400-yard medley relay. She earned All-NEISDA status in the maximum seven events at the championship meet, including a gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle with a personal-best time of 52.71. List added a pair of silvers in the 50 and 200-yard freestyle events and helped the Sharks win the 400 and 200 yard freestyle relays and place second in the 400 and 200-yard medley relay races. The Bedford High School product earned GNAC Athlete of the Week honors twice and turned in 22 top-three efforts, including 11 victories.
Singleton receives All-Conference honors for the second time in as many years after placing among the top three in three different strokes. The sophomore won the 100-yard butterfly, placed second in the 100-yard backstroke with a personal-record time of 1:00.53 and third in the 100-yard breaststroke on a personal-best mark of 1:11.26. The Neuroscience major added three gold medals with the top time in the 100-yard butterfly and the 200 and 400-yard individual medley events at the NEISDA Championship. Singleton earned All-NEISDA status in four more events to give her the maximum number of seven after helping Simmons win the 800 and 200-yard freestyle relay races in addition to silver medals in the 200 and 400-yard medley relays. The Grace Christian Academy graduate turned in 17 top-three finishes, including seven wins and six second-place showings during the season.
Leedham was outstanding in the middle distance events for the Sharks, placing second in both the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley events to earn All-Conference status for the third consecutive season. The junior recorded a personal-record time of 28.19 to place fourth in the 50-yard butterfly and was a cog in the team's winning 400-yard medley relay effort at the title meet. A graduate of Lowell High School, Leedham registered All-NEISDA swims in three individual events, finishing third in the 200-yard butterfly, fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the 400-yard individual medley. A Nursing major, she finished among the top four 23 times and won three races during the season.
Quinlan captured a pair of third-place finishes at the GNAC Championship with efforts in the 50 and 200-yard breaststroke to earn All-Conference accolades. The first year also helped Simmons win the 400-yard medley relay at the championship meet. The rookie earned All-NEISDA status later in the season with an eighth-place showing in the 200-yard breaststroke and helped the Sharks grab a silver medal in the 400-yard medley relay. The Nursing major also scored points by placing 13th in the 50-yard breaststroke and 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke in the NEISDA consolation final. The Haverhill High School graduate was named the GNAC Rookie of the Week twice during the season and posted 12 top-three finishes, including three wins.
Walz placed second in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:32.71, which was one of three personal-record times set during the season. The junior also helped Simmons win the gold in the 200 and 400-yard freestyle races as part of her All-Conference status. Her season was highlighted by a gold medal following a personal-best mark of 1:58.66 to capture the 200-yard freestyle at the NEISDA Championship. In addition, the Nursing major placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle with another personal-record time of 54.50 and added a fifth-place effort in the 200-breaststroke to finish fifth as one of six events she earned All-NEISDA status in. The Natick High School product also turned in 19 top-five places for the season, including a pair of victories.
Howard was part of two winning relay teams for the Sharks, helping them win both the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays in addition to placing third in the 100-yard freestyle to capture All-Conference honors in her first year of competition in the GNAC. The sophomore transfer earned All-NEISDA status in seven events for Simmons, including three individual events with a bronze medal in the 200-yard freestyle and a pair of eighth-place efforts in the 100 and 50-yard freestyle races. The History and International Relations major was part of the team's NEISDA wins in the 800, 400 and 200-yard freestyle relays and helped the Sharks earn silver in the 200-yard medley relay. A graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School, Howard also recorded 14 top-three finishes, including four wins.
Driscoll struck gold twice at the GNAC Championship, winning the 200-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley to secure All-Conference honors in her rookie season. The Haverhill High School graduate also scored points for Simmons with a 13th-place effort in the consolation finals of the 100-yard butterfly. The first year earned a silver medal at the NEISDA title meet in the 200-breaststroke with a personal-best time of 2:27.76 to go with a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke in the same meet and a silver medal as part of the Sharks' 200-yard medley relay contingent. The Psychology major was named GNAC Rookie of the Week twice during the season and posted 17 top-three finishes, including seven victories.
For the third straight year, Manjikian won the three-meter board GNAC title after posting a conference record score of 225.00 points for a six-dive set and placed second on the one-meter board to bolster her All-Conference selection. The junior added two more titles to her mantle, winning the gold medal for both the one and three-meter boards at the NEISDA Championship, including a school-record score of 392.85 for an 11-dive set on the three-meter board and was crowned the Diver of the Meet. The Nursing major was Simmons' top scorer in every meet this season, while putting together nine wins and 12 top-three finishes. She was selected as the GNAC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week three times as the most decorated diver in school annals in a single season. Manjikian, who graduated from Belmont High School, was consistent on both boards throughout the campaign, placing first on both boards in the same meet on four occasions and tallied 200 or more points nine times. The three-year standout registered a double-win over Wellesley College on November 9, where she broke her own school mark on the one-meter board with 250.30 points in six dives. Manjikian also etched her name in the record book at Knight Natatorium on the Colby-Sawyer College campus with a pool-record effort of 221.50 points to place first on the three-meter board on January 11.
Lam landed on the All-Conference squad for the first time in her career after touching the wall second in the 50-yard breaststroke. The Natick High School product also added a fifth-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke at the championship meet. The two efforts were part of 14 top-five finishes during the season. The junior also qualified for the consolation finals in three events at the NEISDA Championship, finishing just outside of All-NEISDA status with a personal-record time of 2:20.62 in the 200-yard individual medley to place ninth in addition to an 11th-place showing in the 50-breaststroke and a 14th-place finish in the 200-breaststroke.
Piernas earned All-Conference accolades in her GNAC Championship debut, placing second in the 1650-yard freestyle. The first year also placed fifth and seventh in the 500 and 200-yard freestyle races, respectively, at conference meet. A graduate of the Bolles School in Florida, Piernas received All-NEISDA status later in the month, placing fourth in the 1650-yard freestyle and fifth in both the 1000 and 500-yard freestyle events. The two-time GNAC Rookie of the Week honoree won a pair of races during her rookie campaign as part of 22 top-five efforts.
McCurdy earns All-GNAC honors for the first time in her career, following a third-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle to give the Sharks the top three spots in the event, while giving her one of five top-five efforts during the season. The senior also added an eighth-place showing at GNACs in the 200-yard freestyle. McCurdy, who graduated from Framingham High School, scored points for Simmons at the NEISDA Championship as well, advancing to the consolation finals after a personal-best time of 34.05 in the 50-yard breaststroke and placed 15th, while also finishing 15th in the 500-yard freestyle.
Krieg finds a place on the All-Conference team for the second time in as many years after placing third on the three-meter board. The sophomore also scored points at the GNAC meet with a seventh-place showing on the one-meter board. Krieg earned her first career medal at the NEISDA Championship with a third-place performance on the three-meter board and racked up a career-best 314.25 points in an 11-dive set to place sixth on the one-meter board at the meet. A graduate of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, she finished the season with 11 top-five finishes.
Samaniego earns a spot on the All-Conference squad for the second straight season and third time in her career after placing third on the one-meter diving board. It was one of 10 top-five finishes for the Avon High School graduate during the season and gave the Sharks three divers on the All-GNAC squad for the second year in a row. The senior also posted a fifth-place effort on the three-meter board at the GNAC title meet and earned double All-NEISDA status, placing fourth on the three-meter board and seventh on the one meter board.