2017 Swimming & Diving #CAAChamps Preview

2017 Swimming & Diving #CAAChamps Preview

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#CAAChamps Central 

RICHMOND, Va. (February 21, 2017) – Championship season returns in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) for the first time in 2017 when the Swimming and Diving Championships begin on Wednesday from the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christiansburg, Va.
CAA.tv once again provides an online stream for the entirety of the title meet. Every event of the championships, including daily preliminary sessions and each night’s finals, is available free of charge through the conference’s home for digital streaming, as well as the new CAA.tv Roku Channel. This is the first time since 2014 that both diving and swimming occur simultaneously over the four-day meet.

Men’s Preview

William & Mary grabbed the headlines at the 2016 championships, earning a rare sweep of both team trophies. The Tribe men impressively raced through the field, securing a new conference title meet record with 969.5 total points en route to the program’s second consecutive CAA title. William & Mary won 13 overall events last season (tied for the second most all-time at the championship) and captured four of the five team relays. Senior Joseph Eiden is the defending champion in the 200-yard freestyle and currently owns the top times in the conference for both the 50 and 100-yard freestyles – fittingly set earlier this season at the Virginia Tech Invitational, also held at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
In addition to Eiden, the Tribe men bring back four more swimmers looking to defend their respective individual CAA titles from a year ago. Sophomore Eric Grimes (500-yard free), junior Conrad Zamparello (1,650-yard free), junior Evan Baker (100-fly), and senior Josh Zimmt (100-yard breast) all won gold medals at the 2016 championships.
Drexel enjoyed the program’s highest finish at the conference championship last winter with a second place finish in the men’s standings. The Dragons’ winning 200-medley relay squad was the only unit to claim a relay victory besides W&M - but was also the first CAA title in the event for the program all-time. Freshman Jason Arthur has impressed thus far in his first collegiate campaign, grabbing three weekly CAA awards alone this season. Arthur ranks third among league competitors in the 100-back, and second in both the 200-back and 200-IM.
The Dragons have had a men’s diver win gold on at least one diving board in three of the last four championships, but must replace three-time CAA Diver of the Year David Sanchez, who graduated in 2016. Junior Simon Carne and sophomore Michael Binkauskas will look to fill those shoes, after both advanced to the finals on the 1 and 3-meter boards at last year’s championships. Binkauskas was the only freshman to advance that far a season ago and was selected CAA Men’s Rookie Diver of the Year. Freshman Anthony Musciano picked up a conference-best four weekly CAA diving honors this season and enters the weekend ranking in the top 4 on both boards against conference foes.
Towson, Delaware and UNCW finished in third, fourth and fifth, respectively at the 2016 championships. TU sophomore Jack Saunderson set a CAA championship record in the 200-fly as a freshman last year and owns the top times for both butterfly events in the league this season. Saunderson grabbed 36 individual points at the title meet in 2016 and became the first Tiger to win CAA Men’s Rookie Swimmer of the Year accolades. Senior Nick Breschi placed third in the 100-back and second in the 200-back last year. Delaware senior Cory Camp has been a consistent championship contender over the years, recording 11 top 5 finishes in various freestyle events. Camp, who won a pair of bronze medals and one silver medal in 2016, grabbed the No. 6 seed in both the 400-IM and 1,650-free events this weekend. UNCW senior Will Ryan is the favorite in both breaststroke events and owns the fastest times for both events in the conference this season.
On the boards, the Seahawk men had three different student-athletes win weekly CAA honors this season. Allen Crosby and Nathan Lane each have taken home medals at the CAA championships in previous seasons, with Crosby entering the weekend leading all conference divers on the 1 and 3-meter boards this year.
Women’s Preview

Behind seven individual victories and three team relay wins at the 2016 championships, William & Mary obtained its first CAA women’s swimming and diving title since 2007. Head coach Matt Crispino won the top men’s and women’s coaching honor in the CAA one season ago – the first to accomplish the feat since 2006. The Tribe women outlasted James Madison by 50 total points in 2016, and welcome back steady seniors Jaimie Miller and Sophie Rittenhouse. Miller is the defending 50 and 100-free conference champion and owns the fastest time in the 50-free among CAA swimmers this season, which also was an NCAA B-Cut qualifier. Rittenhouse, meanwhile, will also try to defend a pair of CAA titles in the 100 and 200-back. In the 1,650-free, sophomore Morgan Smith won gold as a true freshman last winter en route to winning Women’s Rookie Swimmer of the Year honors.
Since capturing the 2012 title, JMU has earned four straight second-place finishes at the conference meet. The Dukes won two relay events in 2016 – the 400 and 800-yard freestyles – and have not lost the 400-free relay at the title meet since 2013. Junior Katie Parker won gold in the 200-IM one year ago and grabbed a pair of bronze medals in the 100 and 200-breast events, too.
Madison senior Olivia Lehman joins Drexel senior Rachel Bernhardt as the only student-athletes at the 2017 CAA Championships who advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2016, and  both seniors have enjoyed solid campaigns this season.  Bernhardt is the defending Women’s Swimmer of the Year and Lehman is the defending Women’s Diver of the Year.
Lehman won CAA Diver of the Week honors four times this season and has already posted multiple NCAA Zone qualifying scores, including a career-high 321.90 score on the 3-meter in her last meet of the regular season. Similarly, Bernhardt owns the top times in the CAA this year in her go-to events – the 100 and 200-breast – and became the first Drexel woman to win a CAA individual title after she took home gold in both of the above events in 2016.
Towson, which finished third at last year’s title meet, owns seven CAA titles all-time. Tiger junior Kendall Krumenacker possesses the best time for the 200-IM in the conference this year, while classmate Jacy Icard won bronze in the 100-back at the championships in 2016 with a school-record time 54.62.
Other divers competing on both boards include Drexel senior Madison Kramer, Towson sophomore Emily Wilson (the 2016 CAA Women’s Rookie Diver of the Year), Northeastern junior Jacquelyn Gover, and UNCW sophomore Adyson Lowe. Gover placed fourth on the 1-meter and fifth on the 3-meter in 2016.
Northeastern freshman Megan Clark set two new program records earlier this season in the 50 and 100-free and enters her first CAA title meet ranking second in each event this year among CAA competitors. Husky sophomore Carly Schnabel has also performed well in multiple freestyle events, recently setting a new NU record in the 1,000 free. She earned the No. 4 seed in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events this weekend.
Drexel is seeded first in four of the five team relays heading into the championships. The only relay that the Dragons did not register the top time in for the event among CAA squads this season is the 800-yard free relay. Delaware junior Sarah Braatz claimed silver in the 500-free at the championships last year and swam a leg on UD’s second-place 400-free relay squad in 2016. UNCW sophomore Meagan Johnson enters the title meet with the fastest time this season for the 400-IM in the conference and finished fifth in 200-fly at the championships one year ago as a freshman.
For live results at the 2017 championships, visit our official swimming and diving championships central page. Fans can also follow live with the Meet Mobile app. On social, join the conversation by using the official CAA Championships hashtag, #CAAChamps. The primary CAA social media accounts – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat – will deliver behind-the-scenes content and coverage as well throughout the week. Just search “caasports” and follow along.