After capturing the program's 20th Old Dominion Athletic
Conference championship last season, the 2010-11 Washington and Lee
women's swimming squad is looking to build on its successes
while also eyeing a return to the NCAA swimming championships at
the University of Tennessee this spring.
En route to another conference title in 2010, the Generals boasted 17 all-conference swimmers, the most in program history. The list also included ODAC Swimmer of the Year, Sarah Simpson '10, ODAC Rookie of the Year, Brittany Ross and ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Jenna Worsham '10, in addition to Head Coach Kami Gardner earning conference Coach of the Year accolades for the second consecutive season.
While Gardner's roster boasts a youthful look, including 20 underclassmen, she is optimistic about the experience those swimmers bring to the squad and the possibilities of this season.
"It is no secret that we are a young, building program," remarked Gardner. " However, these women bring a great deal of wealth and swimming experience to the table. They have formed a solid base for us to build this season around, which is very exciting."
Among the returnees that will help build a foundation for success are 14 of the 17 all-conference honorees from a season ago. That number is impressive, but Gardner is also taking into account the loss of four strong seniors from last season, including Simpson, Worsham, first-team honoree Lynn Bazzel and Ryan Pinney.
"Every year your program experiences a tough loss due to graduation and we'll feel that again this year," stated Gardner. " You can never replace a senior class, especially as one as dynamic as those four women were. However, I believe we have a great group coming back and have the leadership to help fill that void."
The Generals' leadership will come from a pair of seniors in captains Tess Hayden and Becky Guynn. Hayden has received First Team All-ODAC honors all three years, including being recognized as the ODAC Rookie of the Year in 2008.
"Tess has played a huge role in the success of this program over the past three years," commented Gardner. " She is a versatile competitor who has come into this season with a renewed sense of purpose for her swimming."
Seven juniors are listed on the 2010-11 roster, led by another captain in Katie Salvati, who received First Team All-ODAC accolades last season while recording top finishes in the 200 back (2:10.69) and 400 IM (4:45.37) at the ODAC Championships. She also earned Second Team All-ODAC honors during her rookie campaign.
"Katie had a great sophomore campaign and I look for her to continue that trend," mentioned Gardner. " She is a leader by example and will not be out worked in practice or in the classroom. "
Joining Salvati in the junior class are four additional All-ODAC honorees from last season: Jocelyn Cassada, Dana Fredericks, Elizabeth Starnes and Brielle Weinstein. The class of 2012 is rounded-out with Joanie Hudak and Erin Schwartz.
"This is the year for the junior class to step up as leaders of the team," stated Gardner. "They are a significant force in the pool at the conference level and have the ability to take it a step further."
The sophomore class holds the largest representation on this season's roster for Gardner. Thirteen swimmers compose the class, a group that returns eight All-ODAC honorees from last season, including 2010 ODAC Rookie of the Year Brittany Ross. During her rookie campaign, Ross broke school records in the 100 fly (59.54) and 200 fly (2:11.54), while also earning First Team All-ODAC honors.
"Brittany is an incredibly determined swimmer who gained a lot of confidence during her first year swimming for the Generals," remarked Gardner. " I look for her to make big strides this season and vie for a spot at the national meet."
Megan Bock, Izzy Brassfield, Krista Camp, Ann McCampbell, Rachel Mensch, Colleen Moore and Delaney Rolfe were all recognized as All-ODAC swimmers last season, and Gardner hopes that their experience will continue to bring depth and provide solid point production.
Also making the roster for the class of 2013 is Stephanie Krasnov, Kelly Mae Ross, Andrea Seffens and Teresa Soley.
Coupled with the Generals' returnees, Gardner hopes some of the incoming first-years will make an immediate impact and help W&L compete at the conference and national level.
"I anticipate our first-year swimmers making immediate contributions, especially in the sprint events which were hit hard by graduation," stated Gardner. " I am excited to be working with these women over the next four years and expect great things to happen, not only in the pool, but in the classroom as well."
Overall, Gardner is excited about the season, but realizes there will also be challenges facing her squad.
"This season is going to pose considerable challenges to this young team," remarked Gardner. "It will be interesting to see who steps up and takes the reins."
The Generals will begin their season on Friday as part of a dual meet with Mary Washington at Cy Twombly Pool.