Jan. 24, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. -It's the beginning of a new era for the Stanford synchronized swimming team in 2013 as first year head coach Sara Lowe has taken over the reins of the program. A four-time All-American at Stanford from 2005-08, Lowe served as an assistant coach for the Cardinal for the past four seasons. This year's Stanford squad will be held to the same high standards as in the past, while working towards the goal of winning titles at the U.S. Collegiate Nationals.
"I have high expectations for the team this season," said Lowe. "This is the first year the sport of synchronized swimming will be in the World University Games, and the winner of the team, duet and solo events at the 2013 U.S. Collegiate Nationals will be the team, duet and solo to compete for the United States delegation."
The team welcomes back a core group of veterans as well as five athletes who spent last season training with the U.S. Olympic Team. One of those five is 2012 Olympian Mariya Koroleva, who competed for the United States in the duet competition in London.
"Megan [Azebu], our assistant coach, and I have been able to train the team at a very high and intense level," explained Lowe. "This paired with Stanford University playing host to the 2013 Collegiate Nationals in March, I fully expect our team to have a strong showing at Collegiate Nationals and to make up a majority of the World University Games team."
Joining Koroleva in the senior class this season are Madison Crocker, who served as a co-captian for the team in 2012, Morgan Fuller, Jessica Guenther, Michelle Moore and Olivia Morgan. The entire class was a part of the 2011 team championship at Collegiate Nationals, while Koroleva and Morgan took home the duet title that season.
"The seniors have returned to The Farm this past fall with strong international experience and a huge motivation to win," said Lowe. "This has allowed the returning athletes to lead by example and ignite a fire within their teammates that I have not seen in Stanford synchro for a while."
Also returning for Stanford with another year of experience under their belts are juniors Leigh Haldeman and Megan Hansley, and sophomores Anna Boyle, Emily Dillon and Raena Sumiyoshi. They are joined by newcomers Carolyn Morrice, Mina Shah and Evelyna Wang.
Lowe picked up a lot from her predecessor, Heather Olson, who she swam for as a student-athlete and spent four years under as an assistant coach. Now, it is Lowe's turn to preserve the tradition of Stanford synchro, while also bringing fresh ideas to the routines.
"One of the top priorities of the Stanford synchro team this season is to be fit and conditioned which will ultimately allow for difficult and exciting routines," said Lowe. "The Stanford synchro team is pushing the limits this year with the choreography of the routines. They are very intricate and fast and will only be successful if the athletes are in the best shape possible."
Another goal for the team this season is to have every member of the team compete in at least one competition. Lowe believes that each member of the team plays an important role and that participation is one of the keys to success this year.
Assisting Lowe in her first season is recent Santa Clara graduate Megan Azebu. She comes to Stanford after serving as a coach for the Santa Clara Aquamaids program for the past five years.
The Cardinal opens the season on Jan. 25-26 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Stanford will then host an exhibition swim at the Avery Aquatic Center on Feb. 9, serving as a first-look at the squad for local fans.
Stanford then travels to San Antonio, Texas to face the University of Incarnate Word and Lindenwood on Feb. 16. The Cardinal wraps-up the road portion of its schedule in Mesa, Ariz., taking on Arizona State and Lindenwood.
The postseason begins with Western Regionals held at Stanford on March 2-3. The Cardinal has dominated the region in the past and will look to fine-tune its routines at this year's event.
The 2013 U.S. Collegiate Nationals will also be held at Stanford, March 20-23. The Avery Aquatic Center will be the host venue for top competition from around the country. Stanford will be looking to secure its fifth national championship in the past nine seasons.
"It is always nice to swim in the pool you train in all season, and to have your friends and family able to easily attend and cheer you on," said Lowe about hosting Collegiate Nationals. "It is especially nice for the six seniors who will graduate this year to end their collegiate careers in their home pool."