DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women's swimming and diving team held its annual awards banquet Saturday at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth, N.H. Among the honorees were seniors Casey Albert (Enfield, N.H.) and Jessica Little (Bairre, Quebec) for their hard work and dedication throughout their four years with the program.
The team earned an overall record of 6-2 as well as a third place finish at the America East Championships, capping off a stellar 2011-12 season.
Katie Mann (Prince George, B.C.) was tabbed as the team's Rookie of the Year after a phenomenal first year with the program. Mann set a pair of team and conference records at the America East Championships and achieved three NCAA provisional times at the championship meet. She was also tabbed a CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention on April 27.
The team's Most Improved Award went to Ellen Pelletier (West Hartford, Conn.) and Sydney Tribou (Orlando, Fla.). Pelletier set a new team record in a meet against Boston University (1/16) in the one-meter dive with a score of 290.47 while Tribou earned five individual top-five finishes and four top-five relay team finishes. Six of her nine total top-five performances came at the America East Championship.
Earning the team's Most Valuable Swimmer Award was Shelli Reed (Hollister, Calif.). Reed had an incredible 2011-12 season after contributing to 13 first-place individual and relay finishes. Four of those came in the Central Connecticut and Bryant tri-meet (11/5).
Albert, a senior co-captain, was named the recipient of the Coache's Award, recognizing the upperclassman that best exemplifies the best of New Hampshire swimming and diving. Albert set four top-five team times this season and also was named to the University's Dean's List last semester.
The Richard J. Hegerich Memorial Golden Goggle Award or "Seventh Player Award" was bestowed upon Bernadette Byrne (Braintree, Mass.). The memorial award is given in honor of former Wildcat swimmer Rich Hegerich, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2004. The award recognizes an upperclassman whose hard work, dedication and thriving spirit make them such an integral part of the team. The award was presented by Rich's father, Richard, and last year's recipient, Jane Tighe (Windham, N.H.).
This year, three additional awards were presented at the banquet. The first was the 2011-12 Comeback of the Year award, garnered by Katie Keefer (Waynesboro, Va). Keefer suffered a serious back injury that sidelined her for half of the season. After hard work and finishing her rehab, she came back placing 10th in the 500-yard freestyle (5:01.01) and sixth in the 1650-yard freestyle (17:16.84) at the America East Championships.
The next award was the Most Odds Defying Win award, given to Grace Borchers (Evanston, Ill.). For her first year and a half at New Hampshire, she was ineligible to swim for the team. After consistently training, she came back this year and placed first in the 100-yard butterfly (58.33) against Maine (2/3) and again in the conference championships (55.82).
The final award presented was the Race of the Year award, presented to Lauren McCandless (Macungie, Pa.). McCandless earned the award after placing first in the 1650-yard freestyle (16:42.39) event at the conference championships. Despite being behind the leader during the race, she remained composed and stuck to her strategy, helping her overtake her opponent and win the event and defend her title.