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Three-Time Defending National Champ Stanford Opens 2008 Season Saturday
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 01/26/2008

Jan. 26, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008 (2 pm, ET/11 am, PT)
Stanford at William & Mary Invitational
Williamsburg, VA

Sunday, January 27, 2008 (11 am, ET/8 am, PT)
Stanford at Mary Washington Invitational
Fredericksburg, VA

The three-time defending national collegiate champion Stanford synchronized swimming team returns to action this Saturday and Sunday to open its 2008 campaign. The Cadinal will open the season at the William & Mary Invitational on Saturday before participating at the Mary Washington Invitational on Sunday.

2008 SEASON OUTLOOK The Stanford synchronized swimming team's rise to the top of both the collegiate and national scene has turned the program into a legitimately dominating dynasty. Stanford looks to continue this legacy of success in 2008. The Cardinal heads into the season as the three-time defending national collegiate champions after winning every event entered last year.

The backbone of the 2008 Cardinal squad are Olympians and senior co-captains Sara Lowe and Courtenay Stewart.

"Sara and Courtenay will provide fantastic leadership for this team," said Stanford head coach Heather Olson. "They have been leading our team by example for three years, and we want them to have the best swims of their career this year."

Lowe and Stewart, both team captains this season, are looking to `own the pool' so to speak. This is the team's theme for the season and the Lowe/Stewart duet has a clear goal for the team and their duet.

"We want to have swims good enough to score tens, and impressive enough that we could compete with the top routines in the world," explained Lowe.

Lowe and Stewart will have plenty of support in 2008 with the return of six other members from the 2007 championship team. Strong returning talent for the Cardinal this season includes Erin Bell, Poppy Carlig, Debbie Chen, Taylor Durand, Melissa Knight and Gayle Lee.

In addition, the Cardinal boasts four promising freshmen, three with Junior National Team experience on their resumes. The freshman foursome includes Allison Coates, Michelle Moore, Christy Park and Corinne Smith.

"Our veterans feel a responsibility to pass the torch on to the younger swimmers," stated Olson. "They want to teach the newcomers about carrying on the legacy and tradition built here at Stanford."

The Stanford Synchronized Swimming team carries a tradition of success in the classroom and in the pool.

"Our legacy is not about winning, although winning is always a bonus," explained Olson. "Our athletes are exceptional people. It is such a privilege for all of us to be a part of this team."

In addition, the Cardinal has recent graduate and a key member of the 2003-07 teams Elizabeth-Anne Markman taking on the role of volunteer coach.

"It's important that we have continuity between past champions and the present team," offered Olson. "I'm excited that Liz wanted to help our team in the volunteer role this season. She is a great asset to this team. She is passionate about Stanford Synchro and sets high expectations for our current student-athletes. We are lucky to have her."

Markman is not the only former synchronized swimmer in a new role coaching for the Cardinal this season with 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Alison Bartosik in her first season as the squad's assistant coach.

"Alison has a great eye for choreography, and she is enthusiastic about Stanford Synchro and our student-athletes," offered Olson. "She has quickly gained the respect of everyone on our team."

The goal for this year's squad is to create choreography that has never been seen before and improve our lift height and explosive power. Looking to the international powerhouses as its standard, the team will strive to improve its athleticism and creativity.

"I am confident that with the great team chemistry among student-athletes and staff that we can make this happen," concluded Olson.

Schedule The regular season for the Cardinal includes nine competition dates in a stretch of just over six weeks. The team will utilize these competitions for testing routine choreography and fine tuning routines before postseason action in March.

Stanford starts its 2008 season January 26-27 at the William & Mary Invitational, where one of the Cardinal's top opponents will be third-ranked Incarnate Word.

"We'll have to be prepared right from the first meet of the season," commented Olson. "Incarnate Word is a strong team, and our routines will need to be matched, synchronized and energetic. This is a great test run for our team to be prepared for any pool, any situation and to build routine endurance."

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."



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