2015-16 Women's Swimming Preview
Updated: Thursday 10/08/2015 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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The William & Mary women's swimming team made tremendous strides in 2015, placing third in the Colonial Athletic Association with its highest point total in eight years.  Director of Swimming Matt Crispino '02 returns the large majority of those points, as well as talented eight-swimmer freshman class who could all earn spots on the conference team come February.

The sprints group helped provide both relay wins at the CAA Championships last spring, sweeping the 200 free and the 200 medley.  Leading the way in the lane is junior Jaimie Miller, the 2014 CAA Rookie of the Year and two-time CAA Champion.  Miller was an "A" finalist in all three of her events last year, including silver medals in both the 50 and the 100 free.  She was also the leading point-getter in the season for W&M, with 15 victories and 343.5 points.

New to the squad is freshman Annie Miller, Jaimie's younger sister.  Miller already has an Olympic Trials cut in the 50m free, and comes in to W&M with a 22.82 best in the 50, a tenth of a second faster than the freshman record.  She'll look to improve her speed over longest distances this year, and to make a big impact on relays as well.  

Junior Georgie Crompton also ranks highly in both the 50 and the 100 free, third on the team in both distances.  Freshman Emily Schroeder comes into college with a best of 51.70 in the 100 free, and is third on the depth chart already in the 200 free at 1:50.63.  More depth figures to come from sophomore Jess Crowley, who made strong progress in her first year at W&M in 2015, as well as a number of athletes who will swim the 50 or 100 as their third events, including Abby Mack, Noelle Klockner, and Jessie Ustjanauskas.

The distance events are perhaps the strongest in the CAA, and the Tribe's 2016 edition ranks among the league leaders.  Junior Selina Fuller had a breakout-type season in 2015, making the "A" finals in all three of her events and finishing third in the mile at the conference meet.  She returns after a strong summer of workouts, and figures to be in contention once again.

She'll have plenty of competition on her own, team however, including from senior Hannah Vester.  Vester has been a consistent performer in her first three years, and looks to finish her career on a high note.  She is the team's top returner in the 500 free, and was also a championship finalist in the 1650 free, finishing fifth.  Sophomore Bailey Hall is among the Tribe's top-five in all three distance events as well, and looks to step up into a heavier role this winter.

The freshman class meanwhile could be the best of the bunch, with two swimmers who could challenge the school records in all three events.  Morgan Smith enters college at the top of the depth chart in both the 500 free and the 1650 free, as well as the 400 IM.  She's also second in the 1,000 free, behind classmate Maria Oceguera.  Oceguera is third in the 1650 free and fourth in the 500 at the start of her career, and she and Smith could also find their way onto the 800 free relay thanks to times that rank top-five on the team in the 200 free as well.

The backstroke has traditionally been a strength of the Tribe team, and that should continue again in 2016.  Junior Sophie Rittenhouse is the defending CAA Champion in the 100 back, breaking her own school record in the process.  She also took third in the 200 back, and leads the Tribe depth chart in that event as well.

Senior Noelle Klockner has a strong background in both event as well, winning the consolation finals of the 100 back.  She can also contribute on any of the Tribe's relays, in either the freestyle or the backstroke spot.  In the 100, sophomore Meghan Schilken will be looking for her first spot on the conference team, as will classmate Kitty Arenz, while in the 200 back, depth will come from Selina Fuller and Emma Merrill.  Freshman Katie Sell comes in comes in with bests of 57.7 and 2:07 in the backstroke, but has impressed the coaching staff with her capacity for training and looks to produce major drops as the year continues.

The breaststroke had a major break-out last year, and is poised to become an enduring strength for the team for years to come.  Junior Allie Christy saw her hard work pay off with a school record in the 200 breast, tying the oldest mark on the books with her 2:15.79 to take fourth in the league.  She was also an "A" finalist in the 100 breast, and will look to continue her progression this year to challenge for the CAA title.

The Tribe also got a school record last year out of sophomore Annie Valls, who was seventh in the 100 breast in 1:03.10.  With a full year of collegiate training under her belt, Valls looks to dip even closer to the magical 60-second barrier.  Freshman Claire Williams has the capability to push both Christy and Valls, entering college with best-times that rank first on the team in the 100 and second in the 200.  Also providing depth will be senior Jenny Lomicka, who set lifetime-bests in each of the last two years, as well as sophomore Shannon Harrington, who set the freshman record in the 200 breast last February.

Like the sprint events, the butterfly has a strong mix of experience and youth, all contending at the top of the CAA.  Senior Jessie Ustjanauskas was the conference runner-up in both the 100 and the 200 last year, breaking the school record in the latter event.  She'll make a strong stab at breaking the 2-minute barrier this year, and also aim for a sub-54 showing in the 100 fly and try to unite the records.

Ustjanauskas won't have an easy time of it, however, as sophomore Abby Mack could beat her to either or both records.  Mack was the CAA Rookie of the Year last winter, and was an "A" finalist in all three of her events in addition to swimming on the championship 200 free relay.  She took third in the 200 fly, and set freshman records in both the 100 and 200.

Providing depth in the group could be a number of different swimmers, including freshman Maria Oceguera, and sophomore Rachel Anderson.  Oceguera ranks fourth on the depth chart in the 100 fly and third in the 200, while Anderson was a consolation finalist last year in the longer event.  Georgie Crompton swims the 100 fly as her third event, and was just over 55 seconds as a freshman at the conference meet.  Katie Sell will also swim the 100 fly on a regular basis, and should rapidly become one of the team’s top scorers in the event.

Individual Medley
Rounding out the team is the individual medley, the group that gets to pull the best swimmers from all the other groups.  That line-up includes Allie Christy, who broke the school record in the 200 IM en route to a silver medal at CAAs, and sophomore Emma Merrill, who was a championship finalist in the 400 IM and consolation finalist in the 200.  Shannon Harrington also swims the 200 IM, taking eighth in the CAA as a freshman.

Rookies who look to emulate Merrill and Harrington this year include Morgan Smith, who enters atop the depth chart in the 400 IM by nearly a full second.  She's also ranked fifth on the team in the 200 IM, just a touch behind senior Courtney Mizerak.  Maria Oceguera can also score in the 400 IM in addition to all of her other events, giving the coaching staff a versatility seldom seen at this level of swimming, and Jenny Lomicka will look to cap her career by improving on her seventh-place performance in the 400 IM last year.

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