HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb. 22, 2011 – The James Madison swimming and diving team is set to compete in the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Championships this week starting Wednesday, Feb. 23 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. The four-day meet will run through Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Jim McKay Natatorium.
The competition kicks off at noon on Wednesday with the preliminaries and consolation rounds in the three-meter dive. Finals for the three-meter dive will be held at 6 p.m. that evening with swimming events starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
JMU has improved steadily in each of the past three seasons. After finishing ninth in 2007, the Dukes have moved up two spots in each of the subsequent years, including a third-place finish a year ago. They finished fifth in 2009 and seventh in 2008.
Madison will look to its divers to get the team off to a quick start. Senior Jessie Everett (Arlington, Va./Yorktown), juniors Nicole Jotso (Suffern, N.Y./Suffern) and Chelsea Savage (Bedford, Texas/L.D. Bell) and sophomore Kimberly Helfrich (Fort Belvoir, Va./West Springfield) combined for 17 first-place finishes out of a possible 20 events in diving this season. The Dukes feature three of the top-five scores on each board this season, including Helfrich’s school record 377.70 in the three-meter. That score is more than 30 points better that the league’s second-best finisher this season. Jotso owns the top conference score in the one-meter event.
In the pool, JMU features a balanced team led by seniors Lisa Colapietro (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg), Carly Gibson (Bethesda, Md./Academy of the Holy Cross) and Emily Konieczny (West Springfield, Mass./Granby) and sophomore Andrea Criscuolo (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant). Between the four of them, they hold eight school records.
Konieczny set JMU records in the 500-yard freestyle, the 1,000 free and the 1,650 free. Criscuolo, the 2010 CAA Swimming Rookie of the Year, owns school marks in the 200 butterfly and the 100 backstroke while Colapietro is tops in both breaststroke events. Gibson’s owns the school record in the 100 butterfly.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Towson is looking to become just the second team in league history to win four straight championships, joining George Mason (2002-05). The Tigers are led by senior standout Meredith Budner. The three-time defending champion in the 500 and 1650 free is poised to break out the brooms for a four-year sweep after finishing the season with the fastest times in both events. Budner, who will also look to capture a third-straight title in the 400 individual medley, holds meet records in all three events. Classmate Kayla Zeller and freshman Shelby Witham will bolster Budner’s efforts as part of the Tigers’ dominant distance free corps. Junior Caroline Baker, whose scores on both boards rank among the CAA’s top five, looks to become the first ever Tiger diver to capture a conference gold.
Following their runner-up finish at the conference meet a year ago, UNC Wilmington looks to contend once again behind a well-balanced squad with strong sprint and relay units. Sophomore Carly Tanner has recorded the third-fastest time in the 50 free this season, while junior Anna Munger has tallied top-five times in the 50 and 100 free. The Seahawks were tops in the league in the 200 free relay this season and posted the second-fastest times in the 200 and 400 medley relays.
Versatile junior Ashley Danner and her Mason squad look to make a splash in their home waters this week. The two-time defending league champion in the 200 IM and both breaststroke events, Danner set meet records in all three events a year ago and owns top times in the 100 and 200 breast this season. The Patriots have also been strong in relay action, combining for the league’s top times in the medley relays and ranking among the three-fastest squads in the 400 and 800 free relays.
Old Dominion owns the fastest times in five individual races this season, with the other eight individual top times belonging to either Budner or Danner. Sophomore Jessica Hubert has clocked top times in both fly events, while senior April Barrientos and sophomore Kimberly Rashleigh rank among the league’s three fastest in the 100 and 200 back. Junior Erla Haraldsdottir will help lead the Lady Monarchs with her top time in the 200 IM and strong finishes in the breastroke races this season.
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