Jan. 25, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford synchronized swimming team opens its 2011 season Saturday, Jan. 29 against the University of Incarnate Word. The teams will compete at the Avery Aquatic Center at 4 p.m.
The Cardinal returns four All-Americans to the team, which finished as the runner-up at both the U.S. Collegiate Nationals and the U.S. National Championships in 2010. Among the returners are a pair of juniors with U.S. National Team experience - Maria Koroleva and Olivia Morgan.
Stanford's only other home events of the season take place on Feb. 12-13 against the University of Arizona.
The following is the 2011 season outlook:
Over the past decade, the Stanford synchronized swimming team has proved to be one of the national powers in the sport. The Cardinal won four straight collegiate national titles from 2005-08. The team is coming off two consecutive runner-up finishes at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. The Cardinal also finished as the runner-up at the 2010 U.S. National Championships where it won the team and duet events. The 2011 Stanford team undoubtedly has high expectations for the upcoming season.
Despite the loss of seniors Debbie Chen and Taylor Durand to graduation, the Cardinal returns an experienced team for the 2011 campaign. Couple the veteran leadership with some talented freshmen and Stanford will be in position to compete for yet another collegiate national title.
"It has historically taken us a few meets to get into performance mode," said 10th year head coach Heather Olson. "This year we have a very important first competition so we plan to be in top shape with high lifts and clean routines for when Incarnate Word comes to Stanford in January."
Stanford returns seven upperclassmen to this year's squad. Senior captain Corinne Smith and fifth-year senior Gayle Lee have both won collegiate national titles with the Cardinal. Stanford's junior class includes Maria Koroleva and Olivia Morgan, who both have U.S. National Team experience, as well as Alex Bollaidlaw, Morgan Fuller and co-captain Koko Urata. The Cardinal also welcomes back three sophomores - Madison Crocker, Jessica Guenther and Wendy Lu - who all gained invaluable team and solo experience during their freshmen season.
"Having Gayle and Corinne's leadership and experience has been invaluable this year," explained Olson. "We have a wonderful group of motivated young women and they are setting a great example for the newcomers."
The solid core of returners will be joined by a pair of freshmen - Leigh Haldeman and Liane Lovitt. They, along with sophomore but first year Danielle Rossoni, will have a chance to contribute immediately for the Cardinal.
"Danielle has some previous synchro experience and took our beginning synchro class at Stanford her freshman year. She realized she wanted to continue so we encouraged her to come try out for the team," said Olson. "We have already thrown our freshmen into multiple routines and they are doing a fantastic job for Stanford Synchro."
Assisting Olson for a second year is former Cardinal standout and now assistant coach Sara Lowe. The four-time collegiate All-American was a part of the Carindal's four straight collegiate national titles from 2005-08. Lowe acted as head coach in the fall while Coach Olson was out on maternity leave.
Regular Season The Cardinal will begin its season Jan. 29 as it hosts the University of Incarnate Word at the Avery Aquatic Center. It will be an early test for the Cardinal to see where the team stands against tough competition.
Stanford then hosts the University of Arizona on Feb. 12-13. The weekend will be just the beginning of competition between the familiar foes this season.
The Cardinal will then hit the road for the first time as it travels to San Antonio, Texas for the IUW Invitational Feb. 18-19. The weekend will provide Stanford with a good measure of the team's progress at the end of the regular season.
Postseason The postseason begins with Western Regionals in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 26. The Cardinal has dominated the region in the past and will look to continue to improve at this year's event.
The 2011 U.S. Collegiate Nationals will be held in Buffalo, N.Y., March 17-19. The Cardinals will look to capture its fifth title in seven years, but is sure to be challenged by tough competition.
"We have a lighter competition schedule this year in the hopes that we can go into Collegiate Nationals more rested and prepared for our most important competition," stated Olson.