OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University's women's swimming and diving team eagerly awaits the beginning of the 33rd annual Mid-American Conference Championships, held at the University at Buffalo this Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 28-Mar. 2).
As a result of their perfect 6-0 record in MAC dual meets, Coach Dave Jennings' RedHawks are considered to be one of the teams to beat this weekend.
One of the most difficult things Jennings had to do was to pare the team down to a total of 20 swimmers and divers.
"It was really difficult," he said. "We have a nice group of girls who've all worked hard. (Assistant coach) Mark Davis and I spent a lot of time, starting in December, selecting a team that we hope will win a conference championship."
Buffalo's Alumni Natatorium, the site of this week's meet, is similar to Miami's.
"The diving well is separate from the competitive course and that's a big plus," Jennings said. "It's a pretty fast facility for the swimmers."
Among the RedHawk competitors who Jennings expects to vie for individual MAC titles this weekend are three senior swimmers and a junior diver.
Senior Leah Thornton is the two-time defending champ in the 100-backstroke.
"Without a doubt, she has some of the best speed in the conference," said Jennings. "Certainly, she'll be challenged, but I think she has a really good shot to repeat."
Senior Maegan O'Connor is defending her title in the 100 butterfly.
"I would hope that Maegan and Bekka Westrick will be among the top four, but there are also good swimmers in that event from Toledo and Eastern Michigan," he said.
Westrick is also expected to do well at Buffalo, in a number of events.
"Bekka has had a great year so far," Jennings said. "If she just does what she is capable of doing, she'll be right in there in the 50 freestyle, 100 free and 100 fly."
Craft will be counted upon to pick up big points on both the one- and three-meter boards.
"She was the outstanding diver in the MAC last year," he said. "She's had some back issues, but she'll be a factor on both boards."
Jennings says that the depth of his team might be just as important as his four top hopes.
"It's not necessarily who wins, but who gets those fifth-through-eighth-place points," he said. "The more competitors you get into the finals, the better off you're going to be. We've got a lot of girls who have that kind of talent."
That group includes Corey Bangs, Katie Bootsma, Stacy Clagg, Courtney Collett, Cynthia Donovan, Brianna Fujan, Maddie Kete, Aubrey Kluth, Whitney Mitchell, Stephanie Pearce, Gabbie Pettinichi, Stacia Schacter, Emma Szczupakiewicz, Molly Tyler, Nicole Wagner and Lisa Werwinski.
The RedHawks will be seeking their record 17th MAC title. Miami's previous MAC championships occurred in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2009.
Daily Order of Events:
Trials - Thursday, 11:00 AM
500 Yard Freestyle 200 Yard Individual Medley
50 Yard Freestyle
One Meter Diving @ 1:00 PM
Finals - Thursday, 7:00 PM
1. 200 Yard Freestyle Relay
2. 500 Yard Freestyle
3. 200 Yard Individual Medley
4. 50 Yard Freestyle
5. One Meter Diving
6. 400 Yard Medley Relay
Trials - Friday, 11:00 AM
400 Yard Individual Medley
100 Yard Butterfly
200 Yard Freestyle 100 Yard Breaststroke
100 Yard Backstroke
Three Meter Diving @ 1:00 PM
Finals - Friday, 7:00 PM
1. 200 Yard Medley Relay
2. 400 Yard Individual Medley
3. 100 Yard Butterfly
4. 200 Yard Freestyle
5. 100 Yard Breaststroke
6. 100 Yard Backstroke
7. Three Meter Diving - Consolation Final
8. 800 Yard Freestyle Relay
Trials - Saturday, 11:00 AM
200 Yard Backstroke
100 Yard Freestyle
200 Yard Breaststroke
200 Yard Butterfly
Early Heat for 1650 start @ 5:00 PM
Finals, Saturday, 7:00 PM
1. 1650 Yard Freestyle
2. 200 Yard Backstroke
3. 100 Yard Freestyle
4. 200 Yard Breaststroke
5. 200 Yard Butterfly
6. Three Meter Diving
7. 400 Yard Freestyle Relay
Relays are timed final events swum in the finals.
Scoring in individual events = 20,17,16,15,14,13,12,11,9,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
Relay events = 40,34,32,30,28,26,24,22 (8 MAC Teams)
For Miami All-Access interviews with Coach Dave Jennings, Leah Thornton, Maegan O'Connor and Bekka Westrick, click here, then "Features & Interviews".
For Miami's top times, click here.
For Miami and MAC records, click here.