MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan swimming and diving team finished the 2011-12 season under second-year head coach Heidi Voigt. NMU welcomed 14 freshmen to the team, and returned nine swimmers. The ‘Cats finished fourth at the 2012 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and sent two swimmers to the 2012 NCAA Division II Championship.
Junior Gaby Alzaga was an All-American after an eighth place finish in the 200-yard backstroke at NCAAs. She also swam the 100 backstroke. Freshman Emily Brennan swam the 400-yard individual medley, 200 IM and 200 breaststroke at nationals.
Northern kicked off the season in Minnesota competing against Minnesota-Moorhead and St. Cloud State (Oct. 21-22). The ‘Cats defeated Moorhead in both days of competition, but were defeated by St. Cloud. The Wildcats set three pool records on the weekend. Brennan set the 400 IM record (4:38.99), junior Olga Budiansky set the 200 breaststroke record (2:21.06) and freshman Debbi Lawrence set a new pool record in the 200 IM with a time of 2:13.23. Other highlights of the weekend included: Lawrence’s first place finish in the 100 freestyle and the 200 freestyle; the 200 relay team of Lawrence, freshman Emily Bourguignon, sophomore Kelsey Sipple and junior Lauren Cockels also finished first in both days of competition; Brennan won the 500 freestyle with freshman Tara Dowling coming in second; and freshman Jordan Iverson finished in second in the 1650 freestyle. Brennan also took first in the 200 freestyle on Saturday.
Brennan was named GLIAC Women’s Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week for the week of Oct. 24 after her record-setting performance in Minnesota.
On Nov. 12 the ‘Cats competed in their first GLIAC meet of the season against Grand Valley State. The Lakers defeated the Wildcats 192-104. Lawrence was the only ‘Cat to win an event, winning the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. The 400 medley relay and freestyle teams both finished second. The 400 medley team had Alzaga and freshmen Aspen McHugh, Madisen Sechena and Lawrence. The 400 freestyle consisted of Cockels, Sipple, Dowling and Bourguignon. There were also several second-place finishes on the day: Sechena in the 200 IM, Dowling in the 1,000 freetyle, Alzaga in the 100 backstroke, Iverson in the 500 freestyle and Sechena in the 100 butterfly. Freshman Sophia Garris and sophomore Katie Lochart were second and third in the one-meter dive.
The Wildcats competed at Hillsdale the next day (Nov. 13) and were defeated 134-104. NMU won five of the 15 events. Brennan had three firsts of her own in the 200 and 500 freestyle races and 200 breaststroke. Alzaga won the 200 backstroke with Bourguignon finishing in second. Lawrence took the 100 freestyle and was second in the 200 IM. Iverson was second in the 1,650 freestyle and was third behind Sechena in the 200 butterfly. Divers Garris and Lochart finished second and third in the one-meter and three-meter dives.
NMU swam away with a third place finish at the Calvin Invite (Dec. 3) with 466 points behind GVSU and the University of Indianapolis. Alzaga was the top finisher in the 200 backstroke while Bourguignon finished fourth in the event and sixth in the 100 freestyle. Budiansky finished third in the 200 breaststroke and Brennan was third in the 200 IM.
After a month off, the ‘Cats traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and won every event on the weekend, winning 146-96 on Friday (Jan. 6) and 209-50 on Saturday (Jan. 7). Bourguignon won the 100 and 200 yard freestyle races and was also on the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay squads. Lawrence took first in the 100 and 200 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and was on the 200 freestyle relay team. Freshman Kayla Barr won the 1,000 freestyle, senior Stephanie Rogazewski finished second. Budiansky, Brennan, Sipple and senior Jenny Gallagher finished in the top five spots of the 100 breaststroke. Taylor Grimm, Iverson and Cockles swept the 200 butterfly. Sipple and Dowling were the top two in the 50 freestyle. Cockels and Gallagher finished second and third to Lawrence in the 100 butterfly. Sechena, Budiansky and McHugh were the top three in the 200 breaststroke. Brennan won the 500 freestyle with Dakota Sechena in second. Brenan also won the 200 IM. Budianky, Madisen Sechena and Sipple teamed up with Bourguignon in the 200 medley relay. Cockle and Sipple were also on the 200 freestyle relay.
In the final competition of the 2011-12 campaign, the ‘Cats placed fourth at the GLIAC Championships (Feb. 8-11) in Jenison, Mich. Alzaga had a second place in the 200 breaststroke with Bourguignon finishing in a close second. Alzaga was also seventh in the 100 backstroke. Brennan finished second in the 400 IM, shattering the school record (4:27.97) in the preliminary heat. She was also eighth in the 200 IM behind seventh place Lawrence. Madisen Sechena finished fourth in the 400 IM and seventh in the 100 butterfly. Budiansky medaled with a third place finish in the 200 breaststroke and sixth in the 100 breaststroke, as Lawrence was seventh. Sechena finished seventh in the 200. Dowling had a seventh place finish in the 1650 freestyle. The 400 freestyle squad of Lawrence, Sipple, Dowling and Bourguignon placed fifth.
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