Jan. 31, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008 (3 pm, PT)
Alabama-Birmingham at Stanford
Avery Aquatic Center Stanford, CA
Routines: Trio, Duet, Solo, Team
Sunday, February 3, 2008 (9 am, PT)
Alabama-Birmingham at Stanford
Avery Aquatic Center Stanford, CA
Routines: B Figures, Elements
Home fans will have a chance to see three-time defending national collegiate champion Stanford in action for the first time this season when the Cardinal hosts Alabama-Birmingham in a pair of meets on Saturday, February 2 (3 pm, PT) and Sunday, February 3 (9 am, PT). The teams will perform the trio, duet, solo and team routines in Saturday's meet, while Sunday's event will consist of the B figures and elements. Admission is free to both days of action at the Avery Aquatic Center.
SUCCESSFUL START TO SEASON
Stanford started its quest for a fourth straight U.S. Collegiate title by sweeping the William & Mary and Mary Washington Invitationals on January 26 and 27. The Cardinal made it look easy by winning all of its routines during the two events.
William & Mary Invitational (January 26, 2008)
Stanford opened its 2008 campaign by winning the William & Mary Invitational in dominating fashion. The Cardinal finished with 102 points to easily outdistance second place Incarnate Word (87) and was victorious in all five areas of the competition. Richmond and George Mason tied for third with 61.5 points each, while William & Mary (59.3), Mary Washington (53) and Penn State (40) rounded out the team scoring. All-Americans Sara Lowe and Courtenay Stewart led the Cardinal by winning three events each. Lowe was victorious in the solo, duet and trio. Stewart joined Lowe in both the duet and trio victories, while also taking the elements competition. Stanford wrapped up the meet with an impressive victory by its technical team of Poppy Carlig, Knight, Debbie Chen, Stewart, Taylor Durand, Erin Bell, Smith and Michelle Moore. Melissa Knight picked up a victory by swimming with Lowe and Stewart in the trio, while Corinne Smith took the B figures in her first collegiate meet.
Mary Washington Invitational (January 27, 2008)
Stanford continued its quest for a fourth straight U.S. Collegiate title with its second victory in as many days to begin the 2008 campaign by winning the Mary Washington Invitational. The Cardinal scored 101 points and was followed by Incarnate Word (84), Richmond (61.5), William & Mary (55), Mary Washington (29) and Penn State (28) in the team standings. Sara Lowe picked up her routine win in the solo (94.00) and teamed with Stewart to take the duet with the team swimming its technical program. Both Stanford trio teams performed well with the trio of Poppy Carlig, Taylor Durand and Erin Bell edging teammates Melissa Knight, Stewart and Lowe in the trio. The Carlig/Durand/Bell trio scored 91.333 points to edge Knight/Stewart/Bell with 91.000. Stanford wrapped up the meet with a victory in the team competition as a group featuring Carlig, Knight, Debbie Chen, Gayle Lee, Stewart, Durand, Bell and Michelle Moore again was judged swimming its technical program.
Several Stanford student-athletes and coaches commented on the team's first two meets of the 2008 season January 25 and 26. Below is some of what they had to say.
Heather Olson, Head Coach
The first meets of the year are always a tough test of our new routines for the season. Our team had solid swims. We have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks but this weekend was a good start."
Alison Bartosik, Assistant Coach
"The weekend went very well for us. It was a great opportunity for us to analyze our swims, make necessary changes and gather feedback from judges. We are looking forward to our first home meet of the season next weekend."
Sara Lowe after the season-opening William & Mary Invitational
"Our team started the season off today with a bang, sweeping the meet and finishing one and two in each event. Each routine performed well with a lot of energy, showing their strong desire to repeat last year's undefeated season."
Courtenay Stewart after the season-opening William & Mary Invitational
"Our team started the season off today with a bang, sweeping the meet and finishing one and two in each event. Each routine performed well with a lot of energy, showing their strong desire to repeat last year's undefeated season. There is always extra pressure at the first competition of the year, but the team did an awesome job and really stepped up to the plate. Our goal was to impress the judges and other coaches and athletes; we want them to be talking about Stanford now, so when we arrive at collegiate nationals, we are already on our way to the four-peat."
The regular season for the Cardinal includes nine competition dates in a stretch of just over six weeks that started on Janaury 26 and will continue through March 1. The team will utilize these competitions for testing routine choreography and fine tuning routines before postseason action in March.
Stanford's first home meet at the Avery Aquatic Center will be a two-day event February 2-3 against Alabama-Birmingham. The Cardinal will then travel to San Antonio for a two-day meet against Incarnate Word February 16-17 before a pair of showdowns versus Arizona. Stanford will face off with the Wildcats at Stanford on February 23 and at Arizona on March 1. The Cardinal stays in Tuscon an extra day for the Western Regionals on March 2.
"It's great that we'll be able to compete in a venue that will also host the U.S. Nationals two months later," commented Olson.
Before Stanford competes at the U.S. Nationals in Tucson from April 30 - May 4, the Cardinal will first attempt to make it four straight crowns at the Collegiate Nationals hosted by fierce rival Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, from March 26-29.
"It's going to be challenging to face Ohio State in its own pool," Bartosik explained. "We want to encourage lots of supporters and alumni to come cheer on Stanford Synchro to help us win this battle."
"I'm very excited about this year's team and its chances at both Collegiate and U.S. Nationals," Olson continued. "We have a strong and motivated team that is looking to have the best swims of the year at Nationals. We want to be the highest, fastest, strongest and most athletic team out there."
HEAD COACH HEATHER OLSON
Heather Olson is in her seventh season as the head coach of the Stanford synchronized swimming program in 2008. A former synchronized swimmer at Stanford, Olson graduated from Stanford in 1999 with a B.A. in English. As both an athlete and coach, Olson has been fundamental in building Stanford into one of the top collegiate synchronized swimming programs in the nation. In her time on The Farm, she has played a role in four of the five Cardinal national championships, as an athlete in 1998 and as a coach for three straight seasons from 2005-07. Olson has also been responsible for bringing some of the nation's top student-athletes to The Farm, boasting some of the best recruiting classes in collegiate synchronized swimming history.
Olson brings the enthusiasm and dedication necessary to dominate in synchronized swimming, as seen in 2007 with the Stanford's sweep of the U.S. Nationals and Collegiate Nationals.
Last season, Olson led the team to its third straight Collegiate National championship, after sweeping the gold medals in solo, duet, trio and team. For her efforts, Olson was honored as the Collegiate Coach of the Year for the third season in a row, in addition to being named the 2007 U.S. Coach of the Year. In April, she led Stanford to the gold medal at U.S. Nationals in solo, duet and team, the first time in history for a collegiate program. Olson's team also dethroned club powerhouse the Santa Clara Aquamaids in all events. In addition, the Cardinal was also unbeaten in the regular season.
In 2006, Stanford won its third Collegiate National championship and took silver at U.S. Nationals. Olson's athletes earned the gold medal in the duet event, becoming the first collegiate team ever to do so. Again, Olson was named the Collegiate Coach of the Year. She also led Stanford to the silver medal at U.S. Nationals, and brought the team within a point of gold.
In 2005, Olson's team swept Collegiate Nationals and claimed four medals at U.S. Nationals, including a gold by Katie Norris in the solo event, where the team finished second overall. Olson was inducted into the Synchro Hall of Fame, named the Collegiate Coach of the Year and received the Esther Williams Creative Achievement Award.
In 2004, she successfully recruited the best incoming freshman class in collegiate synchronized swimming history.
Overall, Olson has led the Cardinal team to three first place finishes and three second place finishes at Collegiate Nationals in just six seasons at Stanford. She has also led the team to a first place finish, two second place finishes and a fourth place finish at U.S. Nationals.
During her collegiate athletic career, Olson captained the Stanford squad in 1998 and led the Cardinal to its first-ever national title. She was a multiple U.S. Synchronized Swimming All-American (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000) and Collegiate All-American (1997, 1998). She also received the Stanford "Block S" Outstanding Athlete Award her junior year (1998).
Olson was a two-year member of the Junior National Team, a five-year member of the First National Team, and a two-time U.S. Olympic Team member (1996, 2000), winning a gold medal in 1996. She was honored as the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Athlete of the Year in both 1996 and 2000, and as Olympic team captain in 2000. Olson coached for one of the top clubs in the country, the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, and led nationwide Olympic clinics from 1996-2001. She served as a volunteer coach at Stanford before assuming head coach responsibilities in the Fall of 2001.
Olson is entering the fourth and final year of a four-year term as the AAC Athlete Representative for the USOC. In 2005, she won the Ninetta Davis Athlete Representative Award for service as an Athlete's Representative. She is a member of the National Team Program committee and has been selected among the top coaches in the country to be a potential National Team coach. She also served as a 2004 USOC SUMMIT Committee member alongside seven other Olympic gold medalists. Additionally, Olson is a member of the Board of Directors, which enacts and modifies the rules of the United States Synchronized Swimming Corporation.
Olson and her husband Erick, a firefighter/paramedic, have been married for eight years.