March 5, 2009

Quartet of Wheaton swimmers qualify for NCAAs, to compete in 11 events

NORTON, MA- Four Wheaton College women's swimmers have qualified to compete in a total of 11 events at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championship, which will occur on March 18-21 at the University Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where Macalester College will serve as the host.

The Lyon quartet is entirely comprised of New England-based sophomores in Samantha Farrell (Reading, MA/Reading Memorial), Stephany Perkins (Monmouth, ME/Monmouth Academy), Dania Piscetta (Belmont, NH/Belmont) and Nicole Zais (Sudbury, MA/Lincoln-Sudbury Regional). In the first 17 years of Wheaton's men's and women's swimming & diving programs, only Barrett Roberts '07 on the men's side and Abby Pratt '08 for the women had qualified for NCAAs, with Roberts the lone All-America finisher in school history.

Entering the NCAA Championship, Zais had posted the 11th-best 200-yard breaststroke time in the nation this winter while placing 20th in the 100 breast and 26th in the 50-yard freestyle. Piscetta was 25th in the 200-yard individual medley, tied for 30th in the 100-yard butterfly and stood 38th in the 100 free. Wheaton had the nation's ninth-fastest 200 free relay, 18th-ranked 800 free relay and 20th-best 400 medley relay, as well as 400 free and 200 medley relays that stand 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Each of Wheaton's NCAA-qualifying showings occurred at the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship, when the foursome helped the Lyons match last year's program-best finish of third among 10 teams. Wheaton athletes broke 20 of the school's 25 standards and notched a program-record eight all-league finishes, necessitating placing among the top two in an event.

During the opening day on Wednesday, March 18, Piscetta will compete in the 200 IM, Zais is slated to swim the 50 free, and the quartet contends for the 200 medley relay title. The next day, Piscetta hits the pool for the 100 fly, while the foursome takes part in the 200 free and 400 medley relays. On Friday, March 20, Zais enters the 100 breast race before joining her teammates for the 800 free relay race. During the final day, Piscetta will take part in the 100 free, Zais in the 200 breast, and Wheaton's quartet in the 400 free relay.

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