FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 5-1 NAU women's swimming & diving team will compete in its last dual of the semester at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against WAC foe New Mexico State at the NM State Natatorium in Las Cruces. The Aggies are 1-2 in duals but finished third out of 10 teams in their last competition at the University of Houston Cougar Classic. Saturday's meet will be the first of four meets this year that will include both NAU and New Mexico State, including the WAC Championships.
"They have some very talented swimmers and some newcomers that make them very tough," said head coach Andy Johns. "I think we match up well, however, and the meet could go back and forth. If we swim well we should have a chance to win and I expect it to be great competition"
The Lumberjacks most recently competed against Washington State in the Wall Aquatic Center on Nov. 21, earning a 161-133 win over the Pac-12 Cougars. NAU also has dual wins this season over Idaho, Colorado State, Northern Colorado, and Seattle, with its only loss coming at Denver. Sophomore Rachel Palmer won the 200 individual medley and the 200 butterfly against Washington State, the only swimmer in the meet to win two individual events, and leads the team in the fly and IM events in winning a total of 11 events in only five meets this season.
Junior Fi Connell has the best season times in the backstroke events while sophomore Emma Lowther leads the team in distance events, senior Chalene Dirks-Ryan has the top times in sprint events, and sophomore Jordan Burnes has paced the team swimming breaststroke. On the diving board, junior Kristy Ardavanis has the top team scores on the 1-meter and 3-meter and has won seven of the eight diving events she has competed in during duals this season.
New Mexico State has lost road duals at TCU and North Texas but got a home win over Northern Colorado, a team that NAU also beat earlier this season on the road. The Aggies finished third out of 10 teams in Houston, finishing ahead of the host Cougars as well as New Mexico and Rice, among others. Freshman Aliena Schmidtke broke school records two weeks ago in both the 100 free (50.51 seconds) and the 200 free (1:48.24).
After meeting on Saturday, NAU will also compete against the Aggies in the UNLV Winter Invitational, a multi dual at Arizona, and at the WAC Championships at the end of February. The Lumberjacks are 21-4 all-time vs. New Mexico State including a win in Flagstaff last season, but the Aggies won the last time the teams met in Las Cruces in 2009.