RICHMOND, Va., April 11, 2012 – After winning the seventh Colonial Athletic Association championship in program history in February, the James Madison swimming and diving team collected five of the conference’s six major awards on Wednesday.
JMU head coach Samantha Smith was named the CAA’s Swimming Coach of the Year while head diving coach Becky Benson garnered league Diving Coach of the Year honors for the third consecutive year. Senior diver Nicole Jotso (Suffern, N.Y./Suffern) was named the CAA Diver of the Year. Freshman Sin Hye Won (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) and Alex Savage (Carrolton, Texas/Lewisville Hebron) helped Madison sweep the Rookie of the Year awards with Won winning Rookie Swimmer of the Year and Savage claiming Rookie Diver of the Year.
Smith became the first JMU coach to be named the league’s Coach of the Year since Gwynn Evans in 2001. She led the Dukes to their first CAA Championship since that same 2001 season. During the 2011-12 campaign, Smith swimmer’s set 15 new school records, including two CAA records in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay. Her team went 13-2 in dual meets with a 4-0 mark against conference foes. It also picked wins over teams from Conference USA (Marshall) and the Big East (Georgetown, Rutgers, West Virginia) while battling closely with a pair of teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (N.C. State, Virginia Tech).
Benson won her third consecutive CAA Diving Coach of the Year award after helping lead her divers to the gold medal in both the one-meter and three-meter events at the CAA Championships. Josto claimed the 1-meter board while junior Kimberly Helfrich (Fort Belvoir, Va./West Springfield) placed first on the three-meter board. Benson also coached Helfrich, Jotso and Savage to the NCAA Zone A meet, in Buffalo, N.Y. where they all finished in the top 13 in both events.
Jotso was the top-scoring diver and the 18th-highest scorer at the CAA Championships in February, finishing with 37 points. She added her gold on the one-meter board to the gold she won on the three-meter board in 2011, making her just the second diver in school history to finish first in both events (Amanda Kuehl – 1995-96). During the season, the senior earned CAA Diver of the Week four times.
Won joins junior Andrea Criscuolo (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant) as the only athletes in program history to win the CAA Rookie Swimmer of the Year award. She set a new school record in the 100-yard breaststroke, recording a time of 1:01.16. She is also part of the team that set new records in the 200 and 400 medley relays. At the CAA Championships she finished third in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 200 breaststroke, earning All-CAA honors in the 100 event.
Savage is the second diver in school history to be named the Rookie Diver of the year, joining Helfrich who won the honor in 2010. She claimed All-CAA recognitions on the one-meter board with a career-best score of 304.50 to finish just 2.15 points shy of Jotso. On the 3-meter board, she came in fourth with a score 290.00. At the NCAA Zone A meet, Savage finished sixth and 13th in the one and three-meter events, respectively.
George Mason’s Ashley Danner was honored as the CAA Swimmer of the Year while UNCW’s Hannah Stephenson shared the Rookie Swimmer of the Year honors with JMU’s Won.
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