With back-to-back winning dual seasons under their belts, the Lehigh women’s swimming and diving team is looking towards bigger things in 2010-11. The Mountain Hawks went 5-4 in dual meets, including a second straight win over rival Lafayette. Things really took off at the Patriot League championships, where Lehigh’s women set eight new school records en route to a fourth place finish, its best in six years under head coach Rob Herb.
Lehigh lost several high-scoring seniors to graduation, but Herb is excited about the talent that returns for the Brown and White this season.
“This will be a coming together year for the women,” explained Herb, who enters his seventh season. “We have a great group of freshman that will replace a strong senior class. Our current seniors are up for all challenges, and we have a large and strong junior class that is fired up about bringing our women’s program to new heights.”
Providing leadership for the Mountain Hawks will be senior sprinters Kristen Keenan and Allison Montanye. Both will be looking to improve in the individual freestyle events, but both were members of school-record setting relay teams, Keenan in the 800 free relay and Montanye in the 200. Taylor Foxworth is the third member of Lehigh’s senior class.
The real strength of this Mountain Hawks squad is in its junior class with features a number of top scorers and school-record holders. Priscilla Barletta owns the school record in the 200 free and will lead Lehigh in the freestyle and butterfly events. Paola Simon set a school record in the 100 free at last year’s Patriot League championships and should be a factor as well. Alena Pollitt and Lauren Armstrong will lead Lehigh in the backstroke events, while Alyssa Siano will be counted on to score points in the fly events. Elizabeth Marchese and Jill Rann complete Lehigh’s corps of juniors.
Lehigh’s sophomore class should continue to improve with a year of experience under their belts and a summer and preseason of hard work. Katie Brinkhoff and Katie Haycraft will again give Lehigh a boost in the sprint and mid-distance freestyle events. Both were members of two school-record setting relay teams from last year’s championships. Danielle Caruso and Emily DiDonato will solidify the breaststroke events, while Brooke Smalley will look to build on a strong Patriot League Championships showing in the fly.
Herb also welcomed five freshmen, four swimmers and a diver, who should make immediate contributions. Meredith Bayer has the potential to be an all-around force for Lehigh, while Katie Hommes will contribute in the fly events, Giovanna Patafio will fill a void in the distance events and Stephanie Yaszemski will see time in the breaststroke and sprint freestyle events.
On the diving boards, the Mountain Hawks welcome a new coach in Stephen Ferreira. He will work with returning sophomore diver Melissa Suggs and talented freshman Mercy Du.
The Mountain Hawks schedule will be challenging, with just two home meets, and tough road tests at Rider, Lafayette, Marist, Bucknell and Penn State among others. Herb insists that this team can continue to improve and have a successful year in 2010-11.
“This year’s women’s team will be focused on a season that will again see records fall,” he says. “We could be looking at the best women’s team in Lehigh history. If they work hard and race hard it will all pay off.”
Lehigh will open its season this weekend with a two-day trek through New England. The Mountain Hawks will face Big East member Providence Friday night in Rhode Island, before tangling with Patriot League foe Holy Cross on Saturday. Lehigh will open its home schedule on October 23 when it hosts West Chester at Jacobs Pool.