Swimming & Diving CAA Championship Preview
Feb. 22, 2011
NORFOLK, Va. -- The Old Dominion men's and women's swimming and diving teams are gearing up for the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships this weekend at George Mason University. However, for one Lady Monarch senior, he first appearance at the championships was a bit unusual. A funny thing happened to April Barrientos on the way to the CAA Championships...
On her way back to the dorms after class and getting ready for one of her final practices before heading to the championships, April was struck by a car.
"It happened out of the blue," she recalled, "I was just doing my normal routine. The first thing that went through my mind was `oh, no I have to be at practice.' I was ranked first going into the meet and I was really excited and wanted to do well. I was pretty banged up. I lost a bunch of teeth and had a lot of road rash. It was pretty bad. "
After getting her feet wet during one of the relay portions of the championships, April went on to compete in the 100 back and fought her way to a second place finish, a mere .18 seconds behind the winner.
Since then, Barrientos has managed to reset the ODU 100 backstroke record on numerous occasions, twice set a new top time in the CAA, named All-CAA six times, and heads into her final performance at the conference championships as the two-time defending champion in the 100 back.
The Old Dominion women's team heads into this year's conference championships with at 8-5 mark and holds five of the CAA's top times. Barrientos, who holds the CAA's top time in the 100 back this season, has won back-to-back titles in the event and set a new CAA and ODU record with a time of 54.75 in last year's prelims. In the finals, she took the top spot with a time of 54.96 and a NCAA "B" cut time.
Another Lady Monarch to watch for is junior Erla Haraldsdottir, who picked up all-conference honors in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, and as a member of the 200 and 400 medley relay squads. A member of the 2008 Icelandic Olympic team, Haraldsdottir's individual events saw the Lady Monarch claim three NCAA "B" cut times and three ODU records.
Other Lady Monarchs looking to bring titles back to Old Dominion are sophomores Kimberley Rashleigh and Jessica Hubert. Rashleigh, from Sydney, Australia, holds the CAA top finish in the 200 back with her ODU record setting time of 1:59.73, the only competitor to clock in under the two-minute mark in the event. Hubert meanwhile has swam to an ODU record and CAA top time in the 200 fly.
On the men's side, the Monarchs enter the CAA Championships with a 6-3 overall mark and are looking to possibly end UNC-Wilmington's nine-year CAA Championship streak. Kicking off the 2010-11 season, the ODU men's team topped the Seahawks, ending UNC-Wilmington's 10-meet win streak.
The Monarchs boast the CAA's top times in nine of 13 individual races and have tallied the fastest times in two relays this season. Junior Arni Arnason, who has racked up nine All-CAA honors in his career with the Monarchs and is a five-time CAA Swimmer of the Week, currently holds the conference's top times in the both breaststroke events, as well as in the 200 IM. Last season, Arnason was crowned the men's champion for the second straight year as he swam his way to an NCAA "B" cut time of 1:59.32. In the 100 breast, he placed second in the event with a "B" cut time of 54.10.
Another Monarch looking to retain his title is senior Mikael Ramkvist, Ramkvist won the 200 back as the Monarch won the event hitting the wall with a first place time of 1:48.60 helping bring his total to eight all-conference accolades. Also looking to help bring home titles for the Monarchs are sophomore Jason Brame, who holds the league's fastest times in the 1650 free and 400 IM and freshman Sidni Hoxha, who posted the fastest time in the 50 free in 2010-11.
"My expectation for myself is to go above and beyond and leave it all in the pool and do my best.," said April of her last CAA Championship meet. "I hope it exceeds all my tops I've ever got. It may be my final meet unless I make NCAAs. "
The Virginia Beach native who is majoring in history with a concentration in teaching, with a goal of one day teaching the subject in high school, has certainly left her mark in the records in both in the conference and at Old Dominion.
"I came to this team, because I wanted to be a part of a team that was going to grow and not just be another number, which I would've been had I gone to another school," she commented on coming to Old Dominion. "I'm really excited and proud of this team, because I've definitely become a part of a team that's grown and gotten stronger and better every year."
While her career winds down, the senior Lady Monarch will be taking with her many fond memories.
"I don't know if anyone in the world will know crazier people than swimmers," she joked. "We kind have to be crazy to jump into the water at 6 a.m. in cold water and go to class smelling like chlorine all the time. I'm going to really miss being on the team and I know these people will be my family for the rest of my life. "
Live results for the 2011 CAA Championships can be found here.