Jan. 27, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford synchronized swimming team maintains a strong tradition of winning year-in and year-out. The Cardinal won four straight collegiate national titles from 2005-08 and is coming off three consecutive runner-up finishes. This year's Stanford squad looks to continue that winning tradition in 2012.
"Last year winning the team event at collegiate nationals was really the highlight of the year," said 11th-year head coach Heather Olson. "Not only did we win the event, but it was one of the best team swims Stanford synchro has had at collegiate nationals."
This season, the team will be without five members of the squad as they are training with the United States National Team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. That being said, the Cardinal will rely heavily on its two seniors, Alex Bollaidlaw and Koko Urata, for leadership and guidance this year. Additionally, junior Madison Crocker will serve as a co-captain this season with Urata.
"In addition to their leadership within the team, Koko and Madison will be in key routines for us going into the season," stated Olson.
Returning for the Cardinal this season are juniors Jessica Guenther and Danielle Rossoni, and sophomores Leigh Haldeman and Liane Lovitt. Bollaidlaw and Urata will swim a strong duet for the team this year. The pair will also team up with Lovitt for the trio competition. Crocker will compete in three individual routines including a solo, a duet with Guenther and a trio with Haldeman and freshman Anna Boyle.
"It is a big responsibility to have three individual programs and Madison has been doing a fantastic job," said Olson.
Joining Boyle in the freshman class are Emily Dillon and Raena Sumiyoshi. The pair will likely redshirt their first season on The Farm.
Assisting Olson for a third 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.
The Cardinal will begin its season Feb. 4 at the University of Florida, the site of the 2012 U.S. Collegiate National Championships.
"The meet at the University of Florida gives us a feel for where Collegiate Nationals will be," explained Olson. "We will have a chance to see the layout of the pool and I think it really helps our team to be able to visualize themselves at the championships when they have seen the pool before. It will also help us in fine-tuning our routines."
Stanford will then return to The Farm to host the University of Incarnate Word on Feb. 11. It will be an early test for the Cardinal to see where the team stands against tough competition.
"It will be an advantage for our team this season that most of our meets are at home," said Olson. "It will be a season with very little travel, which is always exhausting and means missing school. We are excited to have so many teams coming to Stanford this year."
Stanford also hosts Lindenwood University on Feb. 17 and 18 at the Avery Aquatic Center. The Cardinal closes out its home slate on Feb. 25 against the University of Arizona.
The Cardinal will then hit the road for a rematch against the Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz., on March 3.
The postseason begins with Western Regionals in Tucson, Ariz., on Mar. 4. 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 Gainesville, Fla., March 15-17. The Cardinal will look to capture its fifth title in eight years, but will be challenged by tough competition from around the country.