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Lions, Take Your Mark

Oct. 14, 2005

Los Angeles, Calif. - Last year's Lions set new school records in 17 of 19 events, and all of those record-holders return to lead the 2005-06 Loyola Marymount swimming squad. Coming off a record-high third place finish at the PCSC Championships, LMU swimming looks to rewrite the record book again this season en route to a battle for the conference championship.

The Lions lost 12 members of that third place squad, most notably seniors Bayley Diamond, Breanne Melconian, Mandy Mooers, Maureen Sheehan, and Alex Tungland. But third-year Head Coach Bonnie Adair has added 11 talented newcomers for the 2005-06 campaign. The new class of Lions was put to the test early, competing at the LMU Intersquad meet in early October.

Freshman Julia Hall will give the Lions another versatile swimmer, as she was the fastest newcomer in the 1000 free at the Intersquad. Hall was second only to returning school record-holder Maggie Brophy, now in her sophomore season with the Lions. Brophy went on to win all three events she swam at the Intersquad: the 1000, 200, and 100 free.

Newcomer Gillian Ghazal showed strength in both the 100 and 200 butterfly events, taking a close second to returning sophomore Alicia Royal. Ghazal was also impressive in the 1000 free and placed third behind Hall among the eight freshmen.

Adair recruited freshman Justine Elgas for her breaststroke sills, but Elgas also showed promise in the backstroke events. She finished just after returning sophomore Kim McKay in both the 100 and 200 backstroke.

Freshman Morgan Ridgeway went stroke-for-stroke with sophomore Christine Gore for an exciting 500 free race at the Intersquad. The two finished just .04 seconds apart.

Sophomore Katie Hicks, who returns as a captain this season along with juniors Morgan Finley and Lauren Mathewson, tried the 400 IM and the 100 fly for the first time and won both at the Intersquad. Last season, Hicks went undefeated in all dual meet freestyle sprint events.

Mathewson, who did not compete at the Intersquad, became the first Lion to win a PCSC individual title last February, when she set a school record of 56.36 in the 100 backstroke.

At the Intersquad, Finley was part of the best battle of the day, the 200 breaststroke. The race pitted school record-holder Finley against returning sophomore Alyssa Geraghty and junior Sarah Hamilton, a starter on the LMU water polo team who decided to add swimming to her LMU resume this season. The three were equal until Finley pulled away during the last 25 yards. Hamilton had easily won the 100 breast earlier, turning in a fast pre-season time that was less than a second off the school record.

Fellow junior Amanda Luciano returns to healthy status to start 2005-06, after swimming with an injured back during the greater part of the 2004-05 season. Luciano won the 50 and 100 freestyle events and the 100 backstroke, barely out-touching freshman Rebecca Plume in the 50.

One of last year's freshman standouts, Angela Samuels, continues her rehabilitation from shoulder surgery last April. While she did not swim an individual event at the Intersquad, Samuels had two strong relay splits.

Adair, who became LMU's first-ever full-time swimming head coach last season, coached the Lions from a 10th place finish at the PCSC Championship in 2003 to the LMU-best third place finish last season. She will once again be assisted by Clay Evans and Joanne Reierson.

The staff has planned for a challenging home schedule, beginning with November 12's LMU Pentathlon. The Pentathlon, now in its second year, features three competitions in the short IM, long IM, and freestyle events. The home schedule continues in January with Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, Cal State Northridge, and Claremont McKenna all visiting the Burns Aquatic Center within a week's time.

The Lions will begin the 2005-06 campaign on the road, taking on Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22, before traveling to Seattle University of Monday, October 24.