April 17, 2012
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio Swimming and Diving held its annual team awards banquet on Saturday, honoring the student-athletes who worked tirelessly to produce yet another strong season in the program’s decorated history.
Coming off the 11th Mid-American Conference title in program history, Ohio Swimming and Diving had high hopes for the 2011-12 season. There were also big shoes to be filled by the members of the team, as Ohio’s 2011 class of six seniors was one of the most successful in recent memory.
None of this pressure seemed to matter when the ‘Cats took to the pool in their first competition, an October 28 dual meet at Bowling Green. Ohio started strong right from the beginning of the dual meet, winning the first five events of the day before cruising to a 168-121 win over the conference foe. With not even 24 hours of rest before their next competition—an October 29 dual meet at Eastern Michigan—Ohio had to recover quickly.
Trailing late in the meet, two Ohio 400 Freestyle Relay teams earned first and second in the final event of the day, propelling the Bobcats to a narrow 151-149 victory. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, freshman diver Morgan Srail qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships in just the second meet of her Bobcat career, scoring 276.68 from the one-meter diving board.
The Bobcats wrapped up dual-meet competition in the 2011 calendar year by splitting their final two matchups. Ohio earned a one-sided victory over Buffalo on November 5, setting the program off to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The Green and White followed this up with a setback at No. 13 Ohio State on November 12, picking up the first loss of the season.
Next stop: Akron, Ohio. The Bobcats continued their unprecedented dominance of the annual Zippy Invitational, claiming their sixth straight title in the December competition. Ohio finished 99 points ahead of its nearest competitor, scoring 1442 team points through 20 events.
The team began the 2012 calendar year as impressively as it finished 2011, rattling off six consecutive dual-meet victories to improve its record to 9-1. During the first dual meet of 2012, freshman diver Haleigh Bartlett had an incredible day on the one and three-meter diving boards, qualifying for the NCAA Zone Championships in both, joining teammates Srail, MaryRose Hillstrom and Kristin Capcik, who had already qualified. This marked a nearly uncharted level of success for Ohio divers, as four qualified divers during the 2011-12 season matched the combined number of divers which had qualified during the last five seasons.
Following a close dual-meet loss to rival Miami, the Bobcats headed to Akron once again, this time for the Mid-American Conference Championships. Ohio started the competition quite well, ending the first day atop the leaderboard with 239 total team points. The Bobcats dipped to second after Day Two and ultimately would remain there at the end of the competition, ending the Championships with 612 team points. Rachel Stearns earned gold in the 200 Backstroke, breaking a conference record in the process.
At the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, Hillstrom, Bartlett and Srail finished in the top 50 from the one-meter board. Hillstrom, Bartlett and Capcik then followed this up by finishing within the top 50 from the three-meter board the next day. Srail performed very well from three meters, qualifying for the final round and ultimately finishing 18th with a 12-dive score of 553.60.
Following the MAC Championships, Laurin Williams was invited to compete at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Auburn, Alabama. Williams placed 23rd in the final round of the 1650 Freestyle, swimming a brisk time of 16:24.44. She also finished 52nd in the preliminary round of the 500 Freestyle, touching in 4:50.65.
Even when the season was completed, Ohio Swimming and Diving received national recognition. On March 13, the Bobcats were recognized by CollegeSwimming.com as the Mid-Major National Champions.
When all was said and done, 42 program records were set, nine student-athletes received Academic All-MAC honors, five Bobcats made the 2012 All-MAC teams and five participated in postseason NCAA competition. The 2011-12 season for Ohio Swimming and Diving was truly one to remember.
2011-12 Ohio Swimming and Diving Award Winners
Scott Hammond Award (Most Outstanding Performance): Rachel Stearns
Named after former Bobcat coach Scott Hammond (1986-95). In recognition of the most outstanding performance of the year. Rachel's 200 Backstroke (1:55.65) at the MAC Championships set school and MAC Records and ranked 33rd in the country.
Tad Potter Award (Outstanding Character): Kristen Witham
Named after former Bobcat swimmer and the first MAC Swimming and Diving All-American (1955-56). In recognition of conduct, leadership, sportsmanship, fellowship and courage. Emphasis on character and contribution to the team above oneself.
Fletcher Gilders Award (Most Improved): Kristin Capcik
Named after former Bobcat coach (1959-83). Capcik went from 0 zone qualifying scores in 2010-11 to six in 2011-12. Improved best 1m score by 7.1 percent and best 3m score by 18.43 percent.
Ed Wright Award (Team MVP): Rachel Stearns and Laurin Williams
2012-13 Ohio Swimming and Diving Captains
Deidre Geroni and Laurin Williams