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January 28, 2012

Swimmers Top Grand Canyon 152-110, Divers Conclude at Air Force

PHOENIX, Ariz. and COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The NAU swimming & diving team concluded regular season competition on Saturday, with the swimmers claiming a 152-110 win over Grand Canyon and the divers closing competition at the Falcon Diving Invitational on the 3-meter board.

Junior Fi Connell and sophomores Rachel Palmer and Stirling Smith each won two individual swimming events and the divers were paced by senior Holly Frost's fifth-place finish. The Lumberjack swimmers won nine of 14 events with several season-best times in their meet hosted by Grand Canyon, which is ranked No. 3 in the nation in NCAA Division-II.

"I'm really please with how we finished up our dual meet season," said NAU head coach Andy Johns. "I think this sets us up really well for the conference meet. This is exactly what we were looking for in coming down here in terms of getting some good racing in and fine tuning some things."

NAU opened with a team season-best time of 1 minute, 46.49 seconds to win the 200 medley relay from its 'A' squad of Connell, Palmer, sophomore Jordan Burnes and junior Kelsey Loy. Connell would earn her first win in the 100 backstroke in 58.58 seconds before later taking the 200 back in 2:04.49. Smith would sweep the breaststroke events, taking the 100 breast with a season-best time of 1:05.67 and the 200 breast in 2:21.33.

The team season leader in the butterfly and individual medley events, Palmer got her first individual win in the 200 fly in 2:04.31. She would follow with a team season-best time of 4:27.06 to win the 400 IM. The Lumberjacks also received individual wins from sophomore Emma Lowther in the 200 freestyle in 1:53.31 and senior Chalene Dirks-Ryan in the 100 free in 53.00.

NAU had two divers advance to the final in the 3-meter competition at the Falcon Diving Invitational. Frost was the top Lumberjack finisher, totaling 277.90 in the final to place fifth overall. Freshman Kali Lents, who was the top NAU finisher in the 1-meter and platform competitions on Friday, also advanced to the final with a score of 249.90 and scored 248.10 in the final to place seventh. Senior Cassie Anderson and freshman Katie Dallmann also dove in the prelims but did not qualify for the final.

The squad will have three weeks to further prepare for the WAC Swimming & Diving Championships, which will take place Feb. 22-25 in San Antonio, Texas.