March 5, 2007
LOS ANGELES - After capping off a perfect season with four PCSC Conference titles, four new school records, and two PCSC Conference records, Loyola Marymount senior swimmer Lauren Mathewson learned Friday that she was not one of 32 swimmers selected to compete in the NCAA National Championships beginning Thursday in Minnesota. Mathewson ranked 35th on the list, less than a tenth of a second from the coveted 32nd spot.
"If you snap your fingers, that takes longer than what we missed the cut by," LMU Head Coach Bonnie Adair said, "so it hits you pretty hard just how close we came."
Mathewson would have been the first LMU swimmer to have competed at the NCAA National Championship meet.
The selection process was controversial this year due to some improprieties in the manner in which relay events were conducted in the ACC and Big 12 Conference Championships. Those conferences set up their championship finals with an extra lane between teams to facilitate smooth water for faster times. This violated a new NCAA rule that went into effect last year.
Faced with a decision to disqualify some of the fastest teams in the country, the NCAA Championship committee opted to modify its selection procedure and invited additional relay teams beyond the 16 teams normally invited to accommodate for possible advantages to the ACC and Big 12 teams. This resulted in a greater number of athletes being invited to the Championship meet for the relay swims, but reduced slightly the number of individual swimmers, like Mathewson, that were invited.
"The selection process set forth in the Championship procedures is very specific, yet somewhat complicated to apply without a computer program, so it's impossible to know if without the relay controversy and other procedural errors, Lauren would have made it in," Adair said. "She was `on the bubble' and the modified procedures this year certainly didn't work in her favor. After learning the news last Friday, we talked about how such things happen in life and you just have to move on from them. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't create a huge void in both of us. She worked hard all year for this and has been training diligently by herself these last three weeks to keep in shape in the event she was invited. Hopefully, she's now enjoying Spring Break and recovering from the emotional roller-coaster of the last week. And I'm starting to look at next year's recruits to keep our program moving forward."
Mathewson racked up numerous accolades during her four years in a Lion suit. She was undefeated in both 100 and 200 backstroke dual events throughout her sophomore, junior, and senior campaigns. Over the years, she won five individual PCSC titles and three 200 medley relay titles, for a total of eight conference championships. She shattered the conference records in the 100 backstroke and as the leadoff swimmer on the 200 medley relay. Her 50 backstroke split on the relay was one of the five fastest times in the nation. Her efforts earned her the 2007 PCSC Swimmer of the Year distinction. Mathewson will graduate in May as the school record holder in both the 100 and 200 backstroke and in four relay events: the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.