DURHAM, N.H.- The University of New Hampshire women’s swimming and diving team recently held their annual awards banquet at the Sheraton Inn in Portsmouth. The evening highlighted the team’s accomplishments over the 2008-2009 season.

Although finishing fourth at the America East Championships, the Wildcats won 8-of-18 swimming events, more than any other school. During the Championships, they broke five conference records and six school records.

Individuals recognized for exceptional seasons included Jessica Little (Barrie, Ontario) who was selected as Rookie of the Year. Little won the 200-yard breaststroke at the America East Championships and was runner-up in the 200 individual medley and placed 3rd in the 100 breast behind teammate Allison Nahin (Hartland, Wisc.) who won the event.  Little was named Rookie of the Meet earning the most points for any freshmen at the America East Championships. She also went on to win the 200 breast title at the ECAC Championships in March.

The Most Valuable Swimmer Award went to Jessie Ellisalcaide (Harpswell, Maine).  Ellisalcaide had an incredible season as she broke two 10-year-old America East records in both the 50 and 100 freestyles, coincidently held by former Wildcat All-American Denise Leckenby.  Ellisalcaide swam key legs in each of the four school record-setting relay swims. Jessie went on to win ECAC titles in those same events closing out the season perfect in the 50 and 100 freestyle, as she went undefeated all season.

The team’s Most Improved Award went to sophomore Keli Gillespie (Falmouth, Maine). Although flying somewhat under the radar throughout the dual meet season, Gillespie shined at the America East Championships placing in the 50 and 100 free along with the 100 butterfly. Achieving all personal bests in each her events, she also swam on the school record setting 200 freestyle relay.

The Richard J. Hegerich Golden Goggle Award or Seventh Player Award was awarded to senior Whitney Powers (Bedford, N.H.). The memorial award is named for former UNH Swimmer Rich Hegerich, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2004. It was presented by Rich’s mom Maureen Hegerich recognizing Whitney’s enthusiasm, dedication, team spirit and love of the sport that Rich so vibrantly demonstrated.

The Coaches Award recognizes the upperclassman that exemplifies the best of UNH Swimming & Diving. It reflects upon the characteristics of leadership, ability to be a role model, commitment to the team and overall contribution to the team both philosophically and athletically. Diving standout Tory McKenna (Westford, Mass.) received the award. McKenna transferred in from Syracuse where she was a Big East finalist to complete her final year of eligibility while beginning Graduate School here at UNH. Tory’s dedication and maturity set an example for both swimmers and divers this season.

Captains for the 2009-2010 season were announced at the end of the evening. Mattie Fowler (Farmington, Maine) ’10 and Gillespie ’11 were elected captains for the upcoming season.

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