Swimming & Diving: Wildcats capture sixth America East title
The University of New Hampshire women's swimming & diving team broke the all-time league championship record with 877 points to win the 2014 America East Women's Swimming & Diving title at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Sports & Recreation Center on Sunday.
The Wildcats earn back-to-back America East Championships for the third time in their history and the first time since the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Overall, New Hampshire is bestowed its sixth conference championship, all under head coach Josh Willman.
UNH's 877 points eclipses its own previous AE championship mark of 858 points, set in 2013. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County finished in second place with 684.5 points, followed by the University of Vermont (640), the University of Maine (462.5) and Binghamton University (444).
The Wildcats finished first in three individual events as well as capturing the top time in the 400-yard freestyle.
New Hampshire tallied six swimmers that registered points in the 1,650-yard freestyle. The three-time America East champion Lauren McCandless successfully defended her title in the distance event. The senior parted the water to clock in at 16 minutes, 46.16 seconds, earning 20 points. McCandless became the first-ever swimmer in conference history to pace the 1,650-yard freestyle four times. Classmate Katie Keefer logged a fourth place finish in the event, garnering a time of 17:19.34 (15 points). Junior Adria Morales placed seventh in the race to clock in at 17:37.02 (12 points). Freshman Lauren Marsden earned a 10th place finish, powering through the water for a time of 17:49.52. Teammate Nicole Anderson finished right behind Marsden, notching a time of 17:59.13 (six points). Kathryn Violette (18:00.96) and Bernadette Byrne (18:26.09) rounded out the 'Cats in the event, placing 12th and 15th respectively.
Senior Jenna Bull and junior Oneida Cooper seized the top two spots in the 200-yard backstroke. Bull paced the field to log a career-best 2:00.18 for 20 points. Cooper also earned a personal-best in the event, registering a time of 2:01.29 (17 points). Junior Allison Morales also improved her career-best time in the event, touching the wall at 2:02.01 for fourth place and 15 points. Anderson qualified for the 'A' fixture with a time of 2:04.14 in the preliminary round. The junior finished eighth (11 points) with a time of 2:10.72 in the finals fixture. Freshman Emily Giambastini concluded the scoring for New Hampshire in the event, compiling a ninth-place time of 2:06.14 for nine points.
Three UNH swimmers scored in the 100-yard freestyle. Freshman Sarah Broderick headlined the 'Cats in the event, touching the wall at 51.44 for fourth place and 15 points. Junior Emily Magnavita notched a sixth place finish (13 points) with a mark of 51.67. Junior Megan Suffel capped off the scoring for New Hampshire in the race with two points, placing 15th in the field (53.09).
Sophomore Bettina Caspersen earned an NCAA B cut in the 200-yard breaststroke, medaling silver in the event (17 points). She eclipsed the conference record, held previously by teammate Katie Mann (2:14.18; 2012) with a time of 2:13.56. Freshman Sarah Olver was tagged for fifth place, blazing through the water for a mark of 2:20.15 and netting 14 points.
The Wildcats received their second one-two finish of the day in the 200-yard butterfly. McCandless notched her second gold medal of the day, touching the wall at 2:00.33 (20 points). The Morales sisters both placed in the top five in the field. Allison registered a runner-up finish (2:03.02, 17 points) while Adria placed fifth in the race (2:05.07; 15 points). Senior Jenni Roberts scored 13 points in the event, ranking sixth in the field with a mark of 2:06.27.
New Hampshire was highlighted in the final meet of the championships in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Broderick, Magnavita, Cooper and Bull constructed the top time with a 3:24.99 time, registering 40 points.
Mann competed in a time trial event in the 200-yard breaststroke. The junior posted a UNH program record at the 100-yard mark, clocking in at 1:02.19. Mann completed the time trial with an open conference record of 2:10.30, earning a provisional cut. Her time now ranks 19th overall in the country.
At the conclusion of the meet, McCandless was awarded the inaugural Dave Alexander Coaches Award. Willman, associate head coach Jarrod Zwirko, diving coach Robin Kamil and volunteer assistant coach Jared Felker were tabbed the America East Coaches of the Year for the fifth-straight season.
Select members of the UNH women's swimming & diving team will compete at the ECAC Championships, hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. starting Friday, Feb. 28.
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