Jan. 28, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -- The Stanford synchronized swimming team opens the 2010 season on the road. The Cardinal will compete against Lindenwood University on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. before participating in the Lindenwood Invitational on Saturday.
The Stanford synchronized swimming team continues to be one of the national powers in the sport as demonstrated over the last decade. The Cardinal won four straight collegiate national titles from 2005-08. The team also accomplished a first in the sport during the 2008 season by tying for the U.S. national title, something no collegiate team had ever done. There is no doubt that the 2010 Stanford synchronized swimming team has high expectations for the upcoming year.
With only the loss of Erin Bell to graduation, the Cardinal returns an experienced team for the 2010 season. Couple the veteran leadership with some talented freshmen and Stanford will be in position to compete for its fifth collegiate national title in six years.
"Our mindset this year is to have an undefeated season and win the national championship on our home turf," said head coach Heather Olson. "It would be special this year to recapture the national title in front of our home crowd."
Stanford returns five upperclassmen to this year's squad. Seniors Debbie Chen, Taylor Durand and Gayle Lee and juniors Michelle Moore and Corinne Smith have all won collegiate national titles with the Cardinal. Stanford also welcomes back five sophomores - Alex Bollaidlaw, Morgan Fuller, Maria Koroleva, Olivia Morgan and Koko Urata - who all gained invaluable experience during their freshmen season.
"One goal for this season is for everyone to swim the team routine at a competition," said Olson. "The team competition is the heart and soul of our team and we would like everyone to be a part of that experience."
The solid core of returners will be joined by a talented group of freshmen. Madison Crocker, Jessica Guenther, Megan Hansley and Wendy Lu all boast national team experience and will have a chance to contribute immediately for the Cardinal.
"Crocker is a national team level athlete, but has chosen not to try out for the team this season," explained Olson. "She has a lot of potential and is our tallest athlete, which adds length and height to the team. Guenther is a dramatic swimmer with a lot of energy in the water and will be doing a solo for us this year."
One challenge facing Stanford this season is balancing the National Team with school and collegiate competition. National Team athletes will be training full-time alongside school this season and are restricted from swimming all events at Collegiate Nationals.
"It makes things tougher," stated Olson. "It will be a real challenge, but fortunately we have a lot of depth with 14 total athletes. The positive thing about it is it gives some of our new athletes competition experience which will be great in their overall development."
The Cardinal welcomes back a familiar face to The Farm in 2010. Sara Lowe has been added to the staff as an assistant coach. The four-time collegiate All-American was a part of the Carindal's four straight collegiate national titles from 2005-08. Lowe was a volunteer coach and the meet manager for the U.S. Nationals, hosted by the Cardinal, in 2009. She also acted as an assistant coach last spring when Coach Olson was out on maternity leave.
The Cardinal will begin its season Jan. 29-30 when it travels to Saint Charles, Mo., to take on Lindenwood University before participating in the Lindenwood Invitational where they will compete against top teams like Incarnate Word. It will be an early test for the Cardinal to see the team's progress.
Stanford opens its home season Feb. 13-14, when it hosts the University of Arizona. The weekend will be just the beginning of competition between the familiar foes this season.
The Cardinal will conclude the regular season on Feb. 20 against the Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz., the day before Western Regionals.
The postseason begins with Western Regionals in Tucson on Feb. 21. The Cardinal has dominated the region in the past and will look to continue to improve at this year's event.
Stanford is hosting this year's U.S. Collegiate Nationals, March 11-13. The Cardinals will look to capture its fifth title in six years, but will be challenged by tough competition.
"This year the event has been moved up a week, so people will still be on campus and we encourage them to come out and support our team," said Olson. "Another benefit to hosting is that we will be in our own pool and can visualize the competition on a daily basis which is an invaluable in preparation for our team."
Finally, the Cardinal will conclude the season in Huntersville, N.C., for the U.S. Nationals. Last season, Stanford finished fourth at the event and will look to improve on that finish this season.