April 13, 2012
By Sarah Thomsen
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo.— The swimming & diving team made strides throughout the 2011-12 season. The athletes not only improved in their technical ability, but came together as a team as well. The athletes’ determination, coupled with the direction of new-hire Head Coach Chris Woodard, led to a successful season for the Rams.
From their performance at the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships, the Rams produced nine all-conference honors in individual events, among seven athletes. CSU finished the season seventh at the championships. Seventeen performances, by 10 athletes, made up the top performers of CSU. As a team, CSU broke four school records in the 500 and 1000 Free, 200 Butterfly and the 400 Free Relay. The Rams finished the dual-meet season with a record of 5-7 overall, 2-3 MW.
John Mattos the longest tenured coach in the CSU Department of Athletics, retired after his 31-year legacy of fostering champion Rams.
Woodard stepped into the role with an eager attitude and new ideas from his experience at North Carolina State, where he was the associate head men's swim coach and the assistant women's swim coach for six seasons. Assistant swim coach Kelley McCallum also stepped on board the coaching staff in September.
“This season was invigorating,” Woodard said. “Honestly, extremely difficult, but extremely difficult usually means that you do well and you’re pretty pleased. We have a long way to go but it was a shot in the arm for sure.”
After graduating a very strong 2011 senior class, among them: Nicole Lynch, Emily Molzahn and Michelle Price, the incoming senior class of Kristen Gropp, Jennifer Lamb, Fran Mathias, Kim Schemahorn and Shayna Solomon faced the challenge of filling the gaps of their graduated teammates.
From start to finish of the 2011-12 season Solomon lead the diving team with her consistent performance on the 1- and 3-meter springboards. In October, Solomon made the qualifying score for the diving zones and she continued to rack up points for the Rams throughout the dual-meet season. At the championships Solomon finished seventh and received all-conference honors for her performance on the 1-meter springboards. Solomon was also recognized earlier in the season by the conference and received Swimmer of the Week for her second year in a row.
Lamb stepped in as one of the most reliable athletes on the team. By November, only one month into the competition season, Lamb broke graduate Maddie Gamble’s 2009 school record in the 500 Freestyle at the Cougar Classic Invite. Again at the championships, Lamb set a school record in the 1000 Free. And by the end of the season, Lamb picked up another time in the top-five performance of CSU in the 1650 Freestyle. From her stellar performance at the championships Lamb was awarded all-conference recognition in the 500 and 1650 Freestyle for the third year in a row.
Mathias continued her progress in the 100 and 200 Butterfly from the 2010-11 season. At the 2012 championships Mathias took a sixth-place finish in the 100 Fly and a lifetime best, improving from the 2011 championships by eight positions. For her efforts Mathias was recognized as an all-conference athlete in the 100 Fly for the first time in her collegiate career. Mathias also finished the season with second fastest time on the team in the 200 Fly.
Schemahorn finished out her time as a Ram with the fastest time on the team for the season in the 50 and 100 Freestyle and the second fastest time in the 100 Fly. In the 100 Free prelims Schemahorn made the cut for the NCAA-B qualifiers with her lifetime-best time of 49.99, and all three times placed Schemahorn in the top-five performances of CSU history. Because of Schemahorn’s performances at the championships, she received her first all-conference honors for her times in the 50 and 100 Freestyle.
“[The seniors] have been in swimming long enough to understand the sport and what it’s all about,” Woodard said, “but I asked them to do a lot of new things, a lot of things that pushed them out of their comfort zone. But after some growing pains, I think they did very well, and that goes for the whole team.”
With a team solid in depth and technical ability, the Rams headed into the championships with the determination to excel. And that’s what they achieved.
A native of Linköpling, Sweden, freshman Tovè Törnström, with only six weeks of preparations in America, took all-conference honors for her first-place finish in the 200 Butterfly. Törnström cut down her time from the prelims by over a second in the finals to finish at 1:58.08. With her time Törnström set a school record that was untouched since Kerry Gillespie's effort in 1985.
CSU broke its first record in the 400 Medley Relay through the efforts of Yana Garvey, Kelly Mathews, Fran Mathias and Kim Schemahorn. Their time of three minutes, 42.46 seconds was fast enough to make the NCAA-B qualifying cut and polish off the previous record earned at the 2011 championships.
With the bright prospect their achievements indicate, the Rams continue in their training through the rest of the school year and the summer with the resolve to develop as individual athletes and united as a team for the coming competition season.
“Overall,” Woodard said, “I think a year in the program and knowing what our expectations are, the development of Tovè, the return of Breann (Fuller) and the addition of, hopefully, a strong freshman class, I think we see good things on the horizon.”
Although the future accomplishments of the Rams are uncertain, one thing is clear: the Rams will continue to shine with their defining characteristic, determination.
“I want to move up in the conference this season,” Woodard said, without a doubt that has to happen. I expect us to be at .500 or above in our dual meets. I expect that we’re going to NCAA championships. I don’t know who or how many, but our expectation is CSU will be there.”