Swimming and diving named Scholar All-American team

by Diana Ming | 7/16/12 10:00pm

On July 10, the Big Green men's and women's swimming and diving teams were recognized as Scholar All-America teams by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, proving the squads to be competitive forces in both the pool and the classroom.

The CSCAA Team Scholar All-American honor is awarded to swimming and diving teams that have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher for both the fall and spring semesters, according to the association's website.

For the spring, the Big Green men were ranked fourth academically, and the women sit at 22nd place out of the qualifying Division I teams. Both teams also achieved All-America status in the winter, with the men coming in at third place and the women earning 11th place.

"I'm definitely proud of this accomplishment because it's really a testament to how hard everyone works on the team," Will Derdeyn '13 said. "This sport is pretty intense and you have to push really hard at it, and that translates into striving to do well at school. There are definitely parallels."Derdeyn will serve as the men's team co-captain for the upcoming 2012-2013 season alongside Zack Doherty '13.

The Big Green men earned an average GPA of 3.48 and are one of three Ivy League teams ranked in the top five, according to the CSCAA's website. Yale University won top honors with a team GPA of 3.62, while Harvard University came in third place with a GPA of 3.54. With a 3.55 GPA, Eastern Illinois University secured second place and Villanova University came in fifth with a GPA of 3.37.

The women's squad is the highest ranked Ivy League team, coming in at 22nd place with a team GPA of 3.46. Clemson University and the University of Alabama share the top spot with GPAs of 3.62, while Northwestern University and the University of Iowa share second place with team GPAs of 3.59. Columbia University, with a 3.41 GPA, was the next-ranked Ivy League team at 29th place on this spring's list.

"It's good for both teams that we can balance academics and swimming," Teva Levens '14, a member of the women's team, said. "This year was one of our best years swimming-wise so it's nice that it's also one of our best in terms of academics and team GPA."

This past season, the Big Green men notched an all-time-high fifth-place finish at the Ivy League Championship its highest finish since 1981 and set 13 new school records. The women's squad also earned a strong fifth-place finish at Ivies after coming off one of its strongest seasons in recent memory with a 9-5 (3-4 Ivy) record.

Rising women's team co-captain Erin Henn '14 said that both her coaches and teammates strongly value being high-achieving student-athletes, not just athletes.

"We motivate each other all the time," Henn said. "Upperclassmen are great resources to help the younger ones learn to balance school and swimming, and the coaches are extremely supportive and understanding of your academic commitments. Everyone being a part of the team creates this good environment."

Natalia Vecerek 14 said that while other colleges and universities may have "athlete-friendly" classes that are known to be less rigorous, athletes at Dartmouth are expected to perform at the highest level in their coursework.

"A lot of people on the team are pursuing difficult majors like engineering or [are completing] the pre-med track," Vecerek said. "We don't have the tendency to cop out here, and we are still very driven to take hard classes."

Assistant Director of Varsity Athletics Communications Jessica Poole said she was not surprised that the Big Green squads earned such recognition.

"Our kids are consistently getting awards like this," Poole said. "This honor means a lot because it represents our student-athletes' sense of all-around dedication. Like winning a swimming meet, it's just as important for our athletes to excel academically."

Doherty is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.