Six members of the women's swimming and diving team will head to Atlanta, Georgia to race at the AT&T Winter National Championships beginning Wednesday.
The USA Swimming meet brings top swimmers from colleges across the nation to compete in 18 events over a four-day span. Senior Jennifer Shahar leads the Columbia contingent which includes juniors Alice Boutant and Kathleen O’Rourke, sophomores Jessica Antiles and Mary Ashby, and first-year Helen Wojdylo.
The meet presents the Light Blue squad with a chance to compete against some of the nation's best swimmers.
“It's a great opportunity for our swimmers to go race at winter nationals,” head coach Diana Caskey wrote in an email. “Coming off a strong showing at the Rutgers invite, it's another chance to race really well heading into exams and the winter holiday training.”
Five of the six Light Blue delegates will race individually. O’Rourke, who won't compete in an individual event, will team up with Shahar, Boutant, and Ashby for the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Antiles will swim the 200-yard individual medley while Shahar and Wojdylo will feature in the 100-yard breaststroke. All three will go up against Michigan’s Miranda Tucker, who is often listed with Lilly King as one of the best breaststrokers in the nation. King won the 100-meter breaststroke gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, ahead of Columbia alumna Katie Meili, CC ’13, who earned bronze.
The Lions will jump into a pool with heightened talent and increased visibility this weekend. Caskey sees that exposure as a positive, something that could attract swimmers to Columbia in the future.
“Racing at winter nationals is nice visibility for the program from a recruiting standpoint,” Caskey wrote.
Antiles kicks off the meet for Columbia beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Georgia Tech McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia.