February 16, 2011

Women's Swimming and Diving Set to Compete in America East Championships

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women's swimming and diving team will compete in the America East Championships, hosted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County, at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center (Boyds, Md.) from Thursday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 20.

The Wildcats were predicted to finish third in the preseason and wrapped up their regular season with a 7-1 record, recording victories in two straight meets down the stretch. Heading into the conference championships, New Hampshire will lean on veteran leadership from seniors Kelsey Gillespie (Falmouth, Maine), Allison Nahin (Hartland, Wis.), Amy Perrault (Kirkland Lake, Ontario), Jessica Perry (Middleboro, Mass.), Whitney Powers (Bedford, N.H.) and Kiersten Wollenzien (Holland Landing, Ontario) to put the stamp on an impressive 2010-11 campaign.

Perrault has taken six individual titles in her three trips to the conference meet and is the defending champion in the 200-yard IM, the two-time defending champion in the 200-yard backstroke and the three-time defending champion in the 100-yard backstroke. She holds the conference's top time in each of those events this season and is also the favorite in the 400 IM. As for Nahin, she is also a two-time champ, taking the 100 breaststroke title in each of the last two seasons.

New Hampshire polished off the year breaking a pair of pool records, notching first place in every event on its way to earning a 126-90 victory over the University of Maine at Swasey Pool on Feb. 4. Perrault notched the first pool record of the day, claiming first place in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:01.26. Jessica Little (Barrie, Ontario) followed up with a record-breaking performance of her own in the 200-yard breaststroke, notching the pool record in 2:18.47.

In the meet prior, the 'Cats broke four pool records, including one school record, taking down intrastate rival Dartmouth, 159.5-139.5, at Swasey Pool on Jan. 22. New Hampshire kicked off the afternoon with a bang, as Lauren McCandless (Macungie, Pa.), Shelli Reed (Hollister, Calif.), Perrault and Nahin won the 400-yard medley relay in a pool record time of 3:56.52.

Wollenzien kept the 'Cats rolling in the next event, setting a pool and school record in the 1000-yard free, as she claimed the top spot with a time of 10:15.53. Midway through the action, Nahin broke her own pool record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:03.50. McCandless followed up breaking the pool record in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing in a career best time of 2:03.89.

New Hampshire opened up the year with a pair of wins over Siena (Oct. 16) and Wagner College (Oct. 17) on family weekend at Swasey Pool. Against Siena, the Wildcats finished first in all 12 events, earning a 176.6-73.5 victory to set off the weekend. UNH wrapped up the two-day stretch with a convincing, 120-80, win over Wagner College as the 'Cats placed first in every event on the day. McCandless set the tone early in the meet, breaking a 15-year-old pool record in the 1000-yard freestyle, smashing the mark by almost two seconds with a time of 10:18.08, claiming first place in the event.

Next time out the Wildcats placed first in 12 events, earning a 190-110 victory over Central Connecticut State University at Jack Suydam Natatorium on Nov. 6. Perrault kicked off the afternoon in stellar fashion, breaking a pool record in her lead off swim in the 400-yard medley relay (27.31), helping propel a team that consisted of Nahin, Reed and Katie Keefer (Waynesboro, Pa.) to a first place finish with a time of 3:58.20. Little was equally impressive, breaking a pool record in the 200-yard breast, timing in at 2:21.03.

In UNH's next contest, the 'Cats took down the University of Rhode Island, 168-117, at Swasey Pool on Nov. 13. Perrault led the way, breaking a five-year pool record in the 100-yard backstroke, finishing with a time of 56.32. As a team, UNH placed first in 14 of 16 events on the day to earn the victory.

Perrault was just as impressive at the Boston University Invitational, breaking the program record in the 100-yard butterfly (54.71), as New Hampshire racked up 453.5 points on the weekend to finish fourth.

The Wildcats opened up conference action with a 175-123 victory over the University of Vermont at Forbush Natatorium on Dec. 5. Perrault anchored the 'Cats once again, claiming first place in three events, as she broke the UVM pool record in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:08.36. Additionally, she notched the top spot in both the 100- and 200-yard back, finishing in 58.26 and 2:07.23, respectively.

New Hampshire claimed first place in eight of 18 events and finished in third place at the conference championships last year. UNH's eight first-place finishes were the most by any America East team at the championships, as the Wildcats broke eight school and seven conference records, while also qualifying for NCAA provisional time standards in six swims.

Perrault captured three individual titles on the weekend, earning the Women's Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet award. The honor was her second major award at the championships all-time, as she was also selected as the Rookie of the Meet at the America East Championships in 2008, notching the second-highest number of points in her field.

Additionally, UNH earned America East Coaching Staff of the Year for the 10th time in Josh Willman's 18-year tenure as New Hampshire's head coach.
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