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Swimming and Diving’s Connell Turns in Top Results at Australian Championships

BRISBANE, Australia – Northern Arizona swimmer Fiona Connell participated in the 2010 Telstra Australian Short Course Championships this weekend at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.  Connell swam lifetime bests in every event with her top finish in the 200-meter backstroke competing amongst the best swimmers in Australia. 

“It was a great experience to come back and compete in Australia,” said Connell.  “I spent half of the summer in Flagstaff training so to come home and race at sea level has been an incredible feeling. It is great to be back among the many competitors I have been racing over the years.” 

Connell reached the B finals placing 11th in the 200-meter backstroke and 10th among Australian swimmers.  She finished 14th in the semifinal in the 50-meter backstroke and 18th in the 100-meter backstroke.  She also swam the 50-meter butterfly and placed 35th. 

The Australian Championship were spread out over five days of competition featuring heats in the morning, with semifinals and finals in the evening session. 

The format consisted of heats for all individual events with semifinals in the 50 and 100 meter individual events. The 200 and 400 meter events consisted of A and B finals with no semifinals. 

"I see this meet as another stepping stone to the NCAA Championships,” Connell said.  "It was a heat and finals meet so I can relate it to the WAC Championships when you race in both the morning and nights so it is great practice. 

"It has been a great motivator to have nationals right in the middle of the summer.  I have been to this meet a few times over the past few years and I am definitely a lot more comfortable with racing meters so it is a good chance to come back and see the improvements I have made since being at NAU."  

Connell will enter her sophomore year in the fall after a highly successful freshman season.  In February, she won gold medals in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstrokes at the WAC Championships and became the first multiple winner for NAU at a championship meet since Emily Simon in 2004.  In those swims, she set NCAA "B" standard qualifying times in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. 

Connell earned two All-WAC first-team selections and two All-WAC second team honors.  She was named to the 2010 Division I Mid-Major All-America team by Collegeswimming.com.  She was also a Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. 

The 2010 Australian Championships served as a qualification meet for the World Short Course Championships.  The meet featured the most elite swimmers in the country including every member of the Australian National Team.

DID YOU KNOW…Student-athletes, coaches and athletic department staff combined to volunteer more than 4,500 hours over the 2009-10 academic year, assisting with events like Red Ribbon Week, Relay for Life, Welcome Back Jacks, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Adopt a Family, Climb to Conquer Cancer. In all, the department participated with more than 20 different organizations and/or events.

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