Tide to compete in NCAA Championships

Marquavius Burnett

The Alabama women’s swimming and diving team will compete in the NCAA Championships later this month in Lafayette, Ind.

Three swimmers, senior Agustina de Giovanni, junior Kate Shannon Gray, and sophomore Suzanne Schwee, have already earned a trip to the big meet.

This weekend, Alabama senior Elizabeth Hughes, juniors Olivia Covey and Lauren Dunn, and sophomore Carrie Dragland will attempt to earn their spots during the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships in Atlanta Friday through Sunday.

Dragland, who earned All-American honors last season as a freshman, will be looking for a second trip to the NCAA Championships, while her other diving teammates will all be looking for their first bids to the NCAA.

Head coach Eric Mcllquham said he feels confident about the diver’s chances.

“Our divers have been outstanding this season and I believe they will keep that going through the Zones and on to the NCAA Championships,” McIlquham said.

De Giovanni, a three-time All-American, has qualified to swim the 200 individual medley as well as the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. De Giovanni is the school’s record holder in the 400 individual medley and is ranked second all-time for the Tide in the breaststrokes and the 200 individual medley.

It will be Schwee’s first time in the big tournament. Schwee is the school record-holder in the 200 butterfly, breaking her own school mark during the February Southeastern Conference Championships.

Schwee has qualified to swim the 100 and 200 butterfly as well as the 200 individual medley.

Kate Shannon Gray also has experience in the NCAAs. Gray is the school record holder in the 200 individual medley and is ranked second for the Tide in the 400 individual medley. Gray has earned berths in the 200 and 400 individual medley as well as the 200 breaststroke. Gray said her experience last year will help her this year.

“It will definitely help me,” Gray said. “I won’t be as scared this year as I was last year. I know what to expect and my nerves won’t be as bad. I feel like I can compete with these girls and do well.”

Gray said she wants all her swimming teammates and the divers that have a chance to make it to do their own personal best.

“I want all the divers to qualify,” Gray said. “I also want everyone to give it their best shot and get ranked in the top twenty five.”

Gray also said not a lot changes as far as the team’s workout and training regimes go but she did work on a few personal things.

“We just go in and train hard like coach wants us to,” Gray said. “I just worked on perfecting my turns and other little things, but there were no real big changes.”

Under Mcllquham’s direction, Alabama has seven top-25 national finishes including back-to back-to-back top 15 finishes for the men in 2005, 2006 and 2007.