Swimming and Diving Closes Home Schedule with Idaho on Saturday, Faces No. 2 Arizona a Day Prior

Swimming and Diving Closes Home Schedule with Idaho on Saturday, Faces No. 2 Arizona a Day Prior

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona swimming and diving will resume competition this weekend with two schedule meets. NAU travels to Tucson, Ariz., to take on Arizona on Friday, January 8 at 10 a.m. at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. The Lumberjacks return home on Saturday, January 9 for a conference meet against Idaho at the Wall Aquatic Center at 11 a.m.

NAU (1-4) last competed against Arizona State back on December 19, a meet which resulted in the Sun Devils’ 15th straight win over the Lumberjacks. Arizona State won the meet 192-107.

No. 2 Arizona has not competed since early December at the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. The Lumberjacks are 0-15 all-time against Arizona.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 2 in the nation by www.CollegeSwimming.com. NAU lost to Arizona last year 254.5-45.5. The Wildcats went on to finish third at the NCAA Championships.

NAU returns to Flagstaff from Tucson on Saturday to face off against WAC opponent Idaho. The Vandals are 3-0 in straight duals this season and last competed against Nevada on December 4, a 151-92 victory.

The Lumberjacks are 3-0 against Idaho all-time. NAU defeated the Vandals last year in Moscow, Idaho, by a score of 146-95.

NAU swimming and diving has totaled four Verizon Wireless WAC Swimmer and Diver of the Week awards so far this season. Fiona Connell is one of only two swimmers in the WAC to total more than one Swimmer of the Week award this season. Divers Taryn Harris and Lana Christensen have each been honored with selection.

Freshman swimmer Fiona Connell set pool records at the Wall Aquatic Center in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke against Washington State on November 6. Connell swam 1:03.30 in the 100 back and 2:19.38 in the 200 back. She broke records previously set by Iuliia Kuzhi from Kansas who swam 1:04.82 in the 100 back during the 2008-09 season and Amy Halsey from Rice who swam 2:20.32 in the 200 back during the 2005-06 season.

Last weekend in Las Cruces, N.M., Fiona Connell won the 100-yard backstroke (56.84), 200-yard backstroke (2:05.82) and 200-yard individual medley (2:09.36), while also leading off the winning 200-yard medley relay (1:47.45). Her time of 56.84 in the 100 backstroke is the fastest in the WAC this year, while her 200 backstroke time is the third fastest. Connell’s results earned her WAC swimmer of the week.

Sophomore Kristin Jones and senior Rachael Foe also turned in quality swims in their respective races last weekend against New Mexico State and Northern Colorado. Jones won the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 10:37.84, and finished third in the 500 freestyle as well. Foe swam a 57.44 in the 100 butterfly and picked up first place honors. She also finished second in the 50 freestyle.

The Northern Arizona women's swimming and diving team has finished second in at the Western Athletic Conference Championships each of the past two years. The Lumberjacks set 11 school records and earned 43 All-WAC awards at the 2009 WAC Championships.

Northern Arizona swimming and diving has signed two swimmers for the 2010 recruiting period. Emma Lowther (Auckland, New Zealand) and Rachel Palmer (Christchurch, New Zealand) will join the NAU swimming and diving program in the fall of 2010. Both athletes are accomplished swimmers from New Zealand and will provide immediate flexibility for swimming and diving head coach Andy Johns.

Under 14th-year head coach Andy Johns, the Lumberjacks have excelled in the student-athlete dynamic. Fifteen members of the swimming and diving team earned Academic All-WAC. Of the nine WAC teams, none had more honorees than NAU. New Mexico State tied the Lumberjacks with 15. To be eligible, a student-athlete must have completed at least one academic year, have at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s contests.