Women's Swim/Dive Team Ready To Enter 2012-13 With Both Talent And Hunger
(Information on this weekend's Big Al Open, including a link for the live video, can be found at the bottom of this preview.)
Senior Carter Stephens stood exactly where this talented group of freshman currently stands. As a freshman, Stephens came into a team that had just suffered defeat at the Ivy League Championships, and it had no interest in making that a trend.
Back then, the senior leadership from Alicia Aemisegger and Courtney Kilkuts helped push the Tigers back atop the league for their 19th of 20 Ivy League championships. Stephens realized immediately that her class would be counted on, and she is making sure the current freshman class understands the same.
It doesn't hurt that this particular freshman class was ranked in the Top 20 nationally by CollegeSwimming.com, and it follows a now-sophomore class that was also highly touted.
Princeton knows that it is now chasing a loaded Harvard squad, but when the Ivy League Championships roll around (Feb. 28-Mar. 2), they will be returning to the friendly confines of DeNunzio Pool. In fact, starting with Big Al this weekend, Princeton will host three of its biggest weekends at DeNunzio (Big Al, H-Y-P and the Ivy League Championships).
Anybody who has ever competed for the Orange and Black at DeNunzio knows just how meaningful that can be.
One class won't return Princeton to the top of the league, but Teeter likes both the depth and competitiveness from this team. Starting this weekend, she is hoping the Princeton faithful will feel the same.
While there will be plenty of new names playing key roles for the Princeton women's swimming and diving team, one very familiar returning name belongs to Lisa Boyce. The 2012 Ivy League Championships High Point Scorer, Boyce swept both the 50 and 100 free, and she competed in both at the NCAA Championships. Boyce was an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100 free (as well as the 100 back), and she earned the Team MVP last year.
Boyce has been one of the young stars for Princeton over the last two years, but she will likely be the veteran for the sprint corps this year. Three freshmen could be joining her in both relays and, ideally, Ivy finals this season. Elizabeth McDonald is a two-time Connecticut state champion in both the 50 free and 100 free, and she is a two-time Summer Junior Nationals qualifier.
Megan Lydzinski is also a state champion, though her titles came far closer to home. A three-time New Jersey state champion (two in the 100, one in the 50), Lydzinski is a three-time qualifier for the USA Swimming Long Course Junior Nationals.
Both McDonald and Lydzinski have top times that would immediately qualify for the All-Time Princeton Top 10. Lydzinski's best 50 time of 22.99 would fall behind only Megan Waters '11 and Boyce, while McDonald's 50.39 in the 100 would be seventh best.
Maylin Meisenheimer would also have a Top-10 time in the 50. She won the Texas 5A state championship in the event last year, and is a multiple-time qualifier for Nationals.
Stephens, a senior co-captain, isn't exactly ready to give away her spot in the sprints. The fly specialist was an 'A' final qualifier in the 50 at last year's Ivy League Championships.
Senior Jillian Altenburger has Princeton's third-fastest time in the 200 free and is a former Ivy League individual champion in the event. She will be looking to cap her career with another title in the 200.
Sophomore Damaris Iriondo and senior Maureen McCotter were Princeton's top distance swimmers last year. Iriondo finished fifth in the mile, 10th in the 500 and 11th in the 1000, and she will be looking to move up in all three. McCotter's best finish came in the 1000 (fifth), though she also had a Top 10 finish in the mile.
Freshman India Boland is her club record holder in both the 1000 and the mile, and her best times in both would qualify for the Princeton Top 10. If she can drop even more, she could be a big factor in those two events at the Ivy Championships.
Boyce is the reigning Ivy League champion in the 100 back, and she holds the Princeton record in the event (52.96). Boyce reached the Olympic Trials in the 100 back, and she placed 16th in the event at the U.S. Open Championships this past summer. With the depth of young sprinters on the team, Boyce will likely remain as the starting leg on the medley relay.
Freshman Sada Stewart moved into the Princeton Top 10 during the team's Black & Orange scrimmage, and she was the highest-ranked individual for Princeton in the CollegeSwimming.com recruiting rankings. Also an IM specialist, Stewart has been invited to both USA Senior and Junior Nationals, and could team with Boyce for a dominant duo in the 100 back.
Sophomore Shirley Wang reached both the 100 and 200 back finals at the Ivy Championships last year, and she finished in the top five in the 200. Classmate Courtney Ciardiello also made the 'A' final in the 200, where she finished eighth, but she followed up with an Olympic Trials cut in the event.
Stephens has made every individual Ivy League final in the fly events throughout her Princeton career, and she has finished each between second and sixth. While a team championship is priority number one for this co-captain (along with Kathy Qu), it would be particularly sweet to come with her first individual crown. Stephens finished third in the 100 and fifth in the 200 last year, and she has Top-3 Princeton times in both events.
Knowing they only had one year left with Stephens, the Princeton coaches made sure to load up on talented freshmen in this stroke. Morgan Karetnick, a Top-90 recruit by CollegeSwimming.com, qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 100 fly, and her best time would immediately move into the Princeton Top 6 in both the 100 and 200. Nikki Larson was named the Minnesota Athlete of the Year and is a five-time state champion, while Beverly Nguyen is the only freshman with a sub-2:00 time in the 200. Nguyen competed at both Junior and Senior Nationals before coming to Princeton.
Princeton will be hoping for the most significant improvement in the breast events after missing out on both 'A' finals at the Ivy Championships last year. Sophomores Emily Yu and Cara Slear are both candidates to make a big jump; each made the 'B' final in both events last year. Yu placed a Princeton-best 13th in the 100, while Slear took 12th in the 200.
Senior Sarah Furgatch is an experienced competitor in the events, and she is a former finalist in both the 100 and 200. Freshman Mallory Remick, a former qualifier for both Summer and Winter Nationals, will also bolster the group.
Stewart won the YMCA national championship in the 200 IM, and she brings 200 and 400 times that would qualify for the all-time Top 5 at Princeton. She could immediately factor in the Ivy Championship in both events and help make up for the loss of 2011-12 co-captain Kerry Gruendel, similar to how she will make up for the loss of other co-captain Meredith Monroe in the back.
Ngyuen is also a strong IM performer, and she owns her high school record in the 200. Larson is an eight-time All-America, and Slear finished just outside the Top 10 in both events at the 2012 Ivy League Championships.
The junior duo of Rachel Zambrowicz and Randy Brown made both 'A' finals at the 2012 Ivy League Championships, and Zambrowicz was the 2011 Ivy League Championships Diver of the Meet. Seniors went 1-2-3 in the 1-meter and 1-2 in the 3-meter last year, so both have an opportunity to rise to the top of the podium this year.
Freshmen Alice Eltvedt and Helen Zitkovsky will both be competing for spots on the conference team, though recent history says to watch out for seniors at the Ivy Championships. After winning performances the last two years by Carolyn Littlefield (2011) and Christina Kirkwood (2012), there is plenty reason for optimism for the likes of Courtney Fieldman, Katelyn Perry and Bryna Tsai.
The 2012-13 Big Al Open will begin Friday night at 6 pm, and will include sessions at 9 am and 2 pm on Saturday. Joining Princeton at its annual early-season meet will be Fordham, Georgetown, Lehigh and TCNJ.
You can watch all three sessions (subscription required) by clicking here.
The schedule of events can be found below:
Friday 6 pm
Women’s / Men’s 200 Free Relay
Women’s / Men’s 500 Free
Women’s / Men’s 200 IM
Women’s / Men’s 50 Free
Women’s / Men’s 400 Medley Relay
Saturday 9 am
Women’s / Men’s 200 Medley Relay
Women’s / Men’s 400 IM
Women’s / Men’s 100 Fly
Women’s / Men’s 200 Free
Women’s / Men’s 100 Breast
Women’s / Men’s 100 Back
Women’s / Men’s 800 Free Relay
Saturday 2 pm
Women’s / Men’s 1650 Free
Women’s / Men’s 200 Back
Women’s / Men’s 100 Free
Women’s / Men’s 200 Breast
Women’s / Men’s 200 Fly
Women’s / Men’s 400 Free Relay