UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - RichmondSpiders.com continues its 10 for 10 series this week by highlighting the women's swimming & diving team's decade of dominance in the Atlantic 10 as the No. 3 feature.
The decade began under former Spider head coach Matt Kredich, who led the program to its first conference championship in school history at the 2002 Atlantic 10 Championship. Kredich and the Spiders would go on to capture conference titles in each of the next three seasons before the four-time A-10 Coach of the Year would accept the head women's coaching position at Tennessee.
The Spiders also sent their first-ever swimmers to the NCAA Championship during Kredich's tenure. Mary Adams (200 IM, 400 IM) and Brooke Boncher (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly) capped off the 2004 campaign by qualifying for the meet, with Boncher going on to be crowned the first All-American in program history. She would follow up her stellar showing with a second All-America honor in 2005 following a sixth-place finish in the 100 fly at the NCAA Championship.
The tradition of excellence has certainly been sustained under current head coach Matt Barany, who joined the Spiders in 2005-06 and has since been named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year four times. Over the past six years, Richmond has continued to excel at the conference level, capturing five A-10 titles since 2006. The team's nine titles in the last 10 years comprise nearly a quarter of the school's 38 overall conference titles during this span.
In fact, over the past decade, the Spiders have captured 77 of a possible 130 individual titles (59%) and 43 of 50 relay titles (86%) at the A-10 Championship. The team currently holds eight individual and all five relay conference meet records, including three Spiders in Lauren Beaudreau (100 breast, 200 breast), Brooke Boncher (50 free, 100 fly) and current junior Lauren Hines (100 back, 100 free) who hold multiple records.
Five Spiders have also been selected as the conference championship's Most Outstanding Performer over the last decade, including multiple-time winners Mary Adams (2003, 2005), Jessica Witt (2006, 2008) and Lauren Beaudreau (2007, 2009). The Spiders have fielded eight Most Outstanding Rookie Performers during this span as well: Adams, Boncher, Michelle Coombs, Jessica Witt, Beaudreau, Katie Sieben, Hines and current sophomore Mali Kobelja.
Richmond has also continued to make a name for itself on the national level. Four Spiders in Beaudreau, Sieben, Witt and Hines have qualified for the NCAA Championship during Barany's tenure, bringing the total to six Spiders representing the program on the national stage.
Witt would join Boncher to become the second Spider to earn All-America honors, accomplishing the feat in the 400 IM in 2006 and 2007.
Hines and Kobelja have also qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., while senior Charlotte Brackett qualified for next year's British Olympic Trials to be held in London. This brings the total to six Olympic Trials qualifiers (Brooke Boncher, 2004; Lauren Beaudreau and Katie Sieben, 2008) representing the Spider program over the last decade.
The Spiders have also maintained a tradition of excellence in the classroom during this 10-year span. This past season, graduated senior Nicole LePere was selected as the program's third-ever A-10 Women's Swimming & Diving Student-Athlete of the Year after Kristin Newkirk and Elizabeth Cook received the honor in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
The program has had 18 student-athletes selected to the A-10 All-Academic team over the past decade. At the national level, five Spiders have earned Academic All-America distinction - Caitlin Geary (2007), Katie Sieben (2006, 2008), Lauren Beaudreau (2009) and Natalie LePere (2010). Richmond has also been named a CSCAA Academic All-America squad in each of the past three years after also accomplishing this feat from 2002-2004.