LEXINGTON, Va. -- After an outstanding 2012-13 season, the Washington and Lee women's swimming team has what it takes to contend for not only a conference title, but to make some noise on the national stage in 2013-14.
The team returns a focused nucleus of talent, including the 2013 ODAC Swimmer of the Year in junior Caroline Hamp (Avon Lake, Ohio/Elyria Catholic) and the ODAC Rookie of the Year in sophomore Emma Swabb (Erie, Pa./McDowell).
Hamp owns the school record in the 100 fly (58.52), while Swabb stands first in the 200 (2:09.93) and 400 (4:40.25) individual medleys. In all, three seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores and eight first-years comprise a roster that has posted 34 Top 10 all-time marks in the Generals' record book.
W&L ended last season with the program's 23rd Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship, but a number of individuals narrowly missed the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championships.
"Our obvious goals are to win the ODAC and to make a presence on the national scene," said Head Coach Kami Gardner. "Beyond those goals, we are looking to focus on developing a team environment and a support system that allows everyone to be their best."
Led by it's trio of captains, seniors Meredith Hardy (Cary, N.C./Athens Drive), Lauren Kasoff (Owings Mills, Md./Saint Paul's) and Rebecca Lawrence (Wayne, Pa./Dubois Area), Washington and Lee appears to have the right mix of leadership and talent.
"Meredith is our record holder in the 200 free and has contributed a lot in the pool over the past three years, and we are looking for her to step out of her comfort zone this year and push herself to see what kind of athlete she can be," noted Gardner. "She is a vocal leader and gets the team motivated in the pool and on deck."
As a junior, Hardy won the 200 free at the ODAC Championship meet with a school-record time of 1:55.73 to garner First Team All-ODAC recognition. She was also a member of the winning 200 and 800 free relays. Kasoff landed on the first team after finishing second in the 400 IM (4:41.17) and the 200 fly (2:11.26) at the ODAC Championship meet. Lawrence recorded three Top 5 finishes throughout the season, highlighted by a second-place finish in the 200 medley relay against Randolph-Macon.
"Lauren is a leader by example. She has been our go-to competitor in a lot of tougher events because she is never one to give up," said Gardner of Kasoff. "She also has a willingness to work one-on-one with our younger swimmers to help their transition into college athletics."
"Becca has been a steady leader throughout her career," added Gardner. "She has the ability to keep everyone focused on the big picture and we look for her to breakthrough in the sprint events for us this year."
Two first team all-conference selections return for the junior class in Hannah Melkun (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) and Hamp.
"The junior class is small but mighty," said Gardner. "What they lack in size they definitely make up in their ability to get to the wall first."
Last season, Melkun was crowned ODAC Champion in the 100 breast and 200 breast, while Hamp swam on the winning 400 medley relay and helped the Generals set a school, ODAC and meet record in winning the 200 medley relay. She also won the 100 fly with a school-record time of 58.52, finished second in the 200 back (2:12.56) and third in the 200 IM (2:13.51).
"Caroline is a school record holder and has set lofty goals for herself, and has backed that up with hard work in the pool," noted Gardner. "Hannah is our wild-card who can compete in anything we put her in."
Junior Mary Gabe (Mequon, Wis./Homestead) also returns to the pool this season. Gabe earned Second Team All-ODAC recognition by finishing third in the 200 breast and fourth in the 100 breast at the ODAC Championship meet.
"Mary is our sleeper this year," noted Gardner. "She is focused on where it is she can improve and is looking to turn weaknesses into strengths this season."
Swabb, Stephanie Foster (Columbia, Md./Long Reach) and Meredith Murphy (Hillsboro, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep) will highlight the Class of 2016, as each enters the season coming off of All-ODAC campaigns.
"The sophomore class is key to our success as a team this year," stated Gardner. "They are talented swimmers with the drive to succeed and a willingness to compete."
As a first-year, Swabb garnered W&L's outstanding first-year female athlete award after helping lead the Generals to the ODAC Championship. She was named First Team All-ODAC and received ODAC Rookie of the Year honors after winning two individual events and competing on two winning relay teams at the ODAC Championship meet. Swabb set school records in winning the 200 (2:09.93) and 400 (4:40.25) individual medley events, and she helped the 200 freestyle relay team set a school, ODAC and championship meet record with a time of 1:37.15.
Foster earned First Team All-ODAC honors after finishing first in the 100 back at the ODAC Championship meet. She also helped set the school, ODAC and ODAC Championship meet record in the 200 medley relay and competed on the winning 400 medley relay team. Murphy earned all-conference laurels in her rookie campaign following a second-place finish in the 100 fly in a time of 1:00.15 at the conference meet.
The first-year class will look to make an immediate impact for the Generals this season. The Blue and White will be hoping for a big season from first-years Elisabeth Holmes (Raleigh, N.C./Needham B Broughton) and Emily Rollo (Haddonfield, N.J./Haddonfield Memorial).
"From what I have seen so far of the first-years, the sky is the limit," noted Gardner. "They have come into this program knowing they are going to make an immediate impact and want to make that impact."
With a competitive schedule, the Generals will have a chance to see where they stand against proven teams throughout the season. W&L opens its season on Saturday, October 12, when it hosts Centre for an 11:00 am start time.
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