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February 8, 2013

Landmark Swimming and Diving Championships Kick Off Friday


*Story Courtesy of the Landmark Conference*

Landmark Conference swimming and diving teams will convene at Marywood University this weekend for the conference championships for the second consecutive year. Marywood is set to host seven men's teams and eight women's teams all battling for the coveted conference titles.  

The United States Merchant Marine Academy has dominated Landmark Conference men's swimming and diving and claimed all five championships thus far. The conference coaches unanimously picked the Mariners to repeat this season, and the Mariners enter the event 9-1 in dual meets this season and 4-0 against Landmark competition.

Scranton is 5-1 in conference action this season, with its only loss coming to the Academy. Susquehanna is 4-1 in the Landmark after losing to Scranton, but has not competed against USMMA.

While USMMA has won five straight titles, last year was the second closest race thus far with Scranton closing the gap to 104 points. USMMA sophomore Kevin Lindgren returns to defend his titles in the 100 and 200 backstroke while seniors Sean Minor and Chris Scott have six All-Conference honors each. Minor and freshman Alvaro Brice both have top 10 times in the conference in the 50 and 100 free while Brice earned the fastest time in the 200 free this season.

USMMA had dominated the diving events during the first four championships, but Scranton's Timothy McCormick won both the 1-meter and 3-meter dive last year. McCormick is expected to compete against a number of USMMA divers. The Royals' John Hughes is also back to defend his title in the 100 breaststroke and currently holds the second fastest time in both the 100 and 200.

Susquehanna is poised to make a run this season backed by the 2012 Landmark Men's Swimmer of the Year, Chadd Lee. Lee is the reigning champion in three events and enters the weekend with the top time in the conference in two events. Teammate Josh Heller is hoping to repeat as champion in the 50 and 100 free after breaking two pool records in the events in the final weekend before the championships.
The 500 and 1650 freestyle should be highly contested events by a trio of freshmen. Scranton freshman Mitchell Colby leads the league in the 500 while Marywood freshman Jason Beabout has the fastest 1650 time so far this year. USMMA freshman Jordan Cripe is expected to be in the mix of both events with the fastest time in the 1000 (an event not contested at the championships).

Susquehanna and Scranton have combined to win the five women's titles in Landmark Conference history. Scranton won the first three championships and Susquehanna has claimed the last two. During last year's three-day championship, Scranton held a slim lead after the first two days, but Susquehanna came from behind in the final day to outlast the Royals by nine points with the title up for grabs until the final event.

The two teams met in November and Susquehanna held on for the 150-112 win. Both teams are 10-2 in dual meets this year with Susquehanna holding a half meet edge on the Royals at 6-0 against Landmark competition. Scranton is 6-1 in conference action. All things considered, the championship should be another close one.  

Susquehanna is led by 2012 Landmark Swimmer of the Year Devin Lessard and Rookie of the Year Lexi Cole. Lessard won three events last year and holds the top time in five events this year. Her sister, Kelsey Lessard, will look to knock off returning champion Emily Boyson from USMMA in the 100 and 200 breaststroke with the top times so far this year. Cole has maintained top-10 Landmark times in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events and is primed to repeat as champion in the 200 backstroke.

Scranton's Sara Franciscovich has upheld the top time in both the 50 and 100 free since late November, while Marywood's Katie Paterson leads the league in the 500 free. The 100 backstroke could be up for grabs after Scranton's Christine Gorge won the event as a senior a year ago.

Scranton's Colleen Barry took home Landmark Diver of the Year honors at the 2012 Championships and returns for her sophomore season as a two-time individual conference champion. There are a number of other divers from Marywood, Scranton and USMMA ready to compete for the diving title.

Catholic's Julia Wisler is the reigning 100 freestyle champion and is expected to battle for a repeat this weekend.

A limited number of tickets will be available on-site for the championships. On-site ticket sales will begin 90 minutes prior to each session. All-session passes purchased on-site are $30 and single session passes are $7. All Landmark students are admitted free with a valid ID. Tickets at Marywood will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Any tickets purchased are non-refundable.

There will be live results available as well as a video stream for fans to follow along from home.