HARRISONBURG, Va., April 30, 2012 – James Madison head swimming and diving coach Samantha Smith signed a contract extension through the 2015-16 season as announced by the JMU administration on Monday.
“Coaching at my alma mater and working with such a great athletic administration has been such a wonderful experience,” Smith said. “I truly believe in what this program stands for, the women on the current team, the alumni and the leadership from our administration. I am excited to be given the opportunity to continue my career at James Madison.”
JMU Senior Women’s Administrator Shelia Moorman added, “It has been a pleasure and a thrill to witness the steady growth of the JMU swimming and diving program under Coach Smith’s leadership. Her and her coaching staff have established an enduring foundation for the future of the program. We look forward to many CAA Championships and student-athletes advancing to the NCAA and international competitions in the future.”
This past season Smith was named the CAA Coach of the Year after leading her program to the 2011-12 CAA Championship. It was the program’s sixth CAA title, but its first since 2001. The team has improved every season since Smith’s arrival in 2005. After finishing ninth at the 2007 conference championships, her team has improved its finish in each of the next five conference meets. In her seven-year run as head coach, Smith and the Dukes have compiled a 53-23 record in dual meets.
In addition to team success, several individuals have obtained new heights for Madison. In 2011, diver Kimberly Helfrich (Fort Belvoir, Va./West Springfield) became the first athlete in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championships. She finished in the top 28 in the nation in both the 1- and 3-meter diving events. Recently, senior swimmer Eva Hannesdottir (Seltjarnarnes, Iceland/Kvennaskolinn) became the first National Champion in program history by winning the 100-meter freestyle at the Icelandic National Championships.
Under her staff’s tutelage, several members of the team have collected major awards. Helfrich is one of two players to be named the CAA Diver of the Year, winning the award in 2011 while senior Nicole Jotso (Suffern, N.Y./Suffern) claimed the accolade in 2012. Helfrich is also joined by Alex Savage (Carrolton, Texas/Lewisville Hebron) as winners of the Rookie Diver of the Year Award. Swimmers Andrea Criscuolo (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant) and Sin Hye Won (Springfield, Va./Springfield) were named the Rookie Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
“Rebuilding this program has been a dream of mine since I entered coaching 10 years ago,” Smith said. “I am proud of the foundation that is now in place and I am looking forward to many great years of building on that foundation.”
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