DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire women's swimming and diving team recently held its annual awards banquet at the Sheraton Inn in Portsmouth. The evening highlighted the team's accomplishments over the 2010-11 season.
The Wildcats capped off the year in convincing fashion, winning the ECAC Championships for the first time since 2005 and earning a third-place finish at the America East Championships just the week before.
New Hampshire claimed first place with 611 points at the ECAC Championships, while taking home Coaching Staff of the Meet honors. UNH totaled 11 ECAC winners, as the 'Cats broke five school and ECAC records, while also qualifying for NCAA provisional time standards in five swims.
The Wildcats were just as stellar at the conference championships, breaking 11 school and nine conference records, while also qualifying for NCAA provisional time standards in eight swims. In addition, UNH earned America East Coaching Staff of the Year for the second straight season, taking home the honor for the 11th time in Josh Willman's 18-year tenure as New Hampshire's head coach.
Lauren McCandless (Macungie, Pa.) was selected as the team's Rookie of the Year, contributing to three first-place finishes and helping the 'Cats break four records at the America East Championships. She also captured one individual title, while breaking a combined three records on her own, earning the conference's Rookie of the Year award. She was equally productive at the ECAC Championships, notching four first-place finishes, while breaking four records and collecting two individual titles.
Amy Perrault (Kirkland Lake, Ontario) earned the team's Most Valuable Swimmer Award for the second year in a row, capping off a strong season and an incredible career at UNH. She contributed to six first-place finishes and helped the 'Cats break five records at the ECAC Championships, earning the Women's Swimmer of the Meet award. She also captured three individual titles, while breaking two records on her own. She wraps up her UNH career earning 17 America East titles, 17 America East records, 14 NCAA provisional time standards, seven ECAC titles and four ECAC records.
Perrault also took home hardware at the America East Championships, earning the Coaches Award, recognizing a senior that gets the most points in their career at the championships. She was especially remarkable during weekend, breaking a combined 11 records, claiming first place in five events and qualifying for NCAA provisional cuts in three swims.
The team's Most Improved Award went to Whitney Powers (Bedford, N.H.) and Allison Nahin (Hartland, Wis.). Powers served as the team's captain, leading the way for UNH in and out of the pool this season. She showed great improvement from last season posting career best times in both the 200-yard fly (2:11.34) and the 1650-yard freestyle (17:37.47) this year. What's more, her time in the 1650 put her in the top 16 at the America East Championships for the first time in her career.
As for Nahin, she made a significant jump from last season, capping off her senior campaign in convincing fashion. She made her mark at the conference championships, helping the 'Cats break seven records, while claiming first place in three swims and qualifying for an NCAA provisional cut in the 100-yard breaststroke. At the ECAC Championships she registered a pair of first-place finishes and also helped UNH break two records on the weekend. She defended her title as 100 breast champion at the America East Championships for the third straight year, bettering her own conference record with her first NCAA provisional time of one minute and 2.48 seconds. Additionally, she also bettered her 200-yard breaststroke time by three seconds with a mark of 2:18.
The Richard J. Hegerich Golden Goggle Award or Seventh Player Award was given to Jane Tighe (Windham, N.H.). The memorial award is named for former UNH Swimmer Rich Hegerich, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2004. It was presented by Rich's mother Maureen, recognizing Jane's enthusiasm, dedication, team spirit and love of the sport that Rich so vibrantly demonstrated.
The Coaches' Award was given to Kiersten Wollenzien (Holland Landing, Ontario). The award recognizes the upperclassman that best exemplifies UNH Swimming and Diving. It reflects upon the characteristics of leadership, ability to be a role model, commitment to the team and overall contribution to the team both philosophically and athletically. Kiersten's dedication and maturity set an example for both swimmers and divers this season.