ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 12, 2011 – Sophomore diver Kimberly Helfrich (Fort Belvoir, Va./West Springfield) became the first member of the James Madison swimming and diving team to qualify for the NCAA Championships after finishing fifth on the one-meter board at the Zone A Championships in Annapolis, Md. on Saturday.
“Kim is the first female athlete to compete for JMU at NCAA’s and she has reached a level of excellence that we are all proud of,” head coach Samantha Smith said. “Our team has made great movements forward in the last four years and this is the next step forward for our program. It is an exciting time for JMU swimming and diving."
After finishing third in the three-meter board on Friday, Helfrich finished fifth in the one-meter on Saturday. She scored a 474.40 to edge out junior teammate Nicole Jotso (Suffern, N.Y./Suffern). Jotso finished sixth with a 471.80.
Helfrich will head to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas held on the campus of the University of Texas March 17-19 at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
“Coach Benson has done fabulous work with the diving portion of this program and we are thrilled to have JMU represented on the national level,” Smith said. “Having such great support from the University allows our athletes to realize their potential and their dreams. All alone Kim is extremely talented, however she certainly feeds off a great atmosphere and great teammates at JMU.”
Senior Jessie Everett (Arlington, Va./Yorktown) was the third Duke in the top 10, scoring a 460.65 to finish 10th. Junior Chelsea Savage (Bedford, Texas/L.D. Bell) completed Madison’s day, finishing 29th during preliminaries with a score of 199.05.
Connecticut’s Danielle Cecco won the one-meter event with a score of 567.60. She added the one-meter championships to her three-meter trophy from Friday. Cecco was followed by Virginia Tech’s Sarah Milton (507.57) in second and Rutgers’ Jennifer Betz (495.35) in third. Megan Halicek of Drexel finished fourth followed by Helfrich and Jotso. Virginia Tech’s Carissa Santora took seventh with Melinda Matyas of Boston, Sara Mokhtari of Virginia Tech and Everett rounding out the top 10.
JMU and Virginia Tech tied for the most divers to reach the finals with three each. Rutgers and Boston each had two finalists in the field of 18.
# # #