BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The swimming and diving program hosted its annual year-end banquet last Sunday, March 25th, at the Wood Dining Room in Iacocca Hall on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus. The luncheon is held to celebrate the year’s successes and to recognize outstanding student-athletes with annual program and team awards. The afternoon also featured remarks from head coach Rob Herb and several student-athletes.
Both the men’s and women’s sides enjoyed success in 2012, as the men placed fourth at the Patriot League Championships in Annapolis, while the women finished fifth.
The day’s top honors went to seniors Alyssa Siano and Kevin Shoemaker, who received the Scholar Athlete award, given to the male and female athlete that best exemplify the ideals of a student-athlete. Shoemaker, a senior leader and one of the program’s strongest swimmers, holds school records in the 200 yard butterfly and as part of the fastest 400 freestyle relay team. He owns a 3.39 grade point average as a marketing major. Siano has been a veteran leader for the women’s team and has been a strong contributor to the program. She holds a 3.76 GPA majoring in business information systems.
Juniors Emily DiDonato and Frank Cuzzola, along with sophomore Demetri Karedis received the Coaches Award, given to swimmers who contribute to the team in attitude and improvement in and out of the pool. DiDonato earned a second-team All-Patriot League nod after two top-five finishes at the league championships, including a third place finish in the 200 yard breaststroke.
Cuzzola earned a spot on the second all-league team for the second time in his career after qualifying for the finals in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events at the championships. Karedis also had a strong overall season, setting a school record in the 50 free this season and earning valuable points in both the Patriot League Championships and dual meets. Cuzzola and Karedis were both members of the 200 and 400 relay teams that set school records in Annapolis.
Freshman Alissa Leung and sophomore Chris Hoke received the male and female Outstanding Athlete Awards, which recognize the swimmers that make the greatest athletic contributions to the program. Leung had an outstanding freshman campaign, and was named to the first-team All-Patriot League after breaking school records in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke at the league championships in February.
Hoke also qualified for the championship finals in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events, and was part of both relay teams that set school records at the championships. He was named second team All-Patriot League following his second place finish in the 50 free.
Leung also won the Freshman of the Year award, and was honored along with classmate Danny Bennett for their rookie campaigns. Leung was named the Patriot League Swimmer of the Week twice this season, while Bennett was named to the second All-League team after earning a bronze medal in the 1650 yard freestyle, and also competed in the finals of the 400 yard individual medley at the league championships.
Freshman Sean Brant and Rachel Movius were recognized as the program’s most improved swimmers, and will look to step up next year to help replace a strong graduating class.
Senior Connor Styles received his third Diver of the Year award. After earning first-team All-Patriot League laurels, the former walk-on capped off his collegiate career by earning a trip to the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships, where he competed in the one and three meter events. Danielle Sonderegger earned female Diver of the Year honors after also reaching the finals in the one meter at the league championships.
This year saw the introduction of a new award, the Bruce Gardiner Leadership Award. The award, named for former head coach Bruce Gardiner, recognizes swimmers or divers who display outstanding team leadership. Gardiner retired last year after 40 years of service to Lehigh University, including serving as the university’s Director of Admissions and 17 years and the head swimming and diving coach.
The inaugural recipients of the honor were seniors Lauren Armstrong and Jared Blacker, who have demonstrated leadership in and out of the pool during their four years as Mountain Hawks, both as contributors to the swimming and diving program and through the Lehigh Athletics Leadership Academy.
Story by Gordon Stevenson ‘12