April 10, 2013
RENO, Nev. - The 2012-13 season was one for the books for the University of Nevada swimming and diving team, and saw the Wolf Pack finish at 4-3 in dual meets and fifth in the Mountain West.
Prior to the season, Nevada was picked eighth in the nine-team conference, collecting 17 total points in a vote by the conference's head coaches.
The 2012-13 season was highlighted by strong performances at the conference event, including six individual event champions, nine total top-three finishes, eight Nevada records and the MW Diving Coach and Diver of the Year.
"We trained all season to peak at the Mountain West Championships," head coach Abby Steketee said. "We accomplished our goal of being in top form at the conference finale."
"We had so many great individual performances and personal bests throughout the season. Each person contributed in her own way; all of those individual contributions added up to tremendous team growth over the year."
Nevada's six individual wins came from swimmer Mengjiao Mi, who won the 200, 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle and two divers. Stephanie Hansen, the MW Diver of the Year, won the one-meter and platform events, while En Tien Huang took the title in the three-meter event. Diving coach Jian Li You was named the MW Diving Coach of the Year, earning the highest coaching honor at the conference level for the fourth time.
Steketee also commented on the overall success of the divers in 2013, noting their importance in Nevada's dual meets throughout the competition season.
"The divers have been a spark for our team all year. At many dual meets, they were the catalyst for team's success. And at conference they really led the way in competing with poise and tenacity. "
Mi also became the first Nevada swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championships since 2009, and the first to qualify in three events since 2008.
Individually, other Nevada swimmers dropped a significant amount of time off their best swims, achieving new personal bests in 2013. Two swimmers of note in this area are Michelle Forman and Nikki Longland. Before this season, Forman's best time in the 100-yard butterfly was 58.26 but she cut three seconds at the MW Championships to score in 55.24. Likewise, Forman stepped up on the 800 Free Relay and dropped 10 seconds off of her 200-yard freestyle time, going from 2:00.06 to 1:49.94.
Longland's drop in the 400 IM was staggering, as the Sparks native improved her lifetime best from 5:04.73 to 4:22.71 at the conference event.
In total, 45 of 54 individual races at the conference championships were lifetime records. Overall this season, 21 swimmers achieved lifetime records - often in multiple events.
"It was indescribably fulfilling to watch so many swimmers achieve best times this year, especially when the time drops were so huge. In elite swimming, it's exciting to drop a tenth - to improve 3, 5, 7, or even 10 seconds like many of these athletes did is just phenomenal," Steketee said.
In addition to the honors earned at the MW Championships listed above, the Pack also earned at total of 14 all-conference selections from five student-athletes (swimmers Mengjiao Mi, Gabby Guieb and Yawen Li and divers Stephanie Hansen and En Tien Huang).
The eight school records set came in the 200, 500, 1,000, and 1,650-yard freestyle, the 200-yard breaststroke, 400-yard IM, 800-yard freestyle relay and platform dive. Twenty top-10 school times were swam at the season-ending event, with 45 of the 54 swims resulting in best times. In total, the Pack dropped 247.67 seconds, or 4:07.69 off its times.
"I am so proud of how our staff and student-athletes attacked this season with purpose and passion. But we are not complacent - we know we can do even better and will use the success of this season as motivation to reach even greater heights next year," Steketee said.