CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Senior Lauren McCandless (Macungie, Pa.) of the University of New Hampshire women's swimming and diving team was named the 2013-14 America East Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women's swimming & diving, the conference announced Wednesday.
The distinction is awarded to a student-athlete who goes above and beyond in their sport as well as in the classroom.
McCandless, a two-time co-captain, is the first repeat winner of the America East Scholar-Athlete award (2012 and 2014) and sixth in program history. Furthermore, UNH swimmers have received the accolade the past three seasons with teammate Katie Mann (Prince George, British Columbia) honored in 2013.
The senior compiled another decorated season for the Wildcats. McCandless earned the top spot on the podium 16 times during the 2013-14 campaign. Leading New Hampshire to its sixth America East title and a record 877 points, she was tied with junior Oneida Cooper (Johannesburg, South Africa) in points scored with 57 at the conference championships. Over her four years competing at the America East Swimming & Diving Championship, she racked up the most points (215) among all league swimmers to earn the inaugural David Alexander Senior High Point Coaches' Award.
McCandless became the first woman in conference history to win the 1,650-yard freestyle title four consecutive times, registering a time of 16 minutes, 46.64 seconds. Additionally, she became the fifth swimmer ever to sweep an event all four years in America East history. McCandless was also part of a pair of record-setting relays at the America East Championships. The two-time UNH Coaches' Award recipient was the third leg in the 400-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays, registering total times of 3:41.88 (conference record) and 7:21.47 (pool record) respectively. At the ECAC Championships, she achieved a NCAA provisional cut and bronze finish in the 200-yard butterfly, powering through the water to register a time of 1:58.93.
Outside of the pool, McCandless has been a commendable student in the classroom and in the community. Expected to graduate in May 2014 with magna cum laude distinction in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology with a 3.64 grade point average, she was recognized for the Dean Williamson Award, given to a senior at UNH who has been outstanding and well-rounded in extracurricular activities, scholarship, athletics and loyalty to the University. Furthermore, the two-time Chi Sigma Alpha inductee was amongst 10 students selected for UNH's Create Your Own Story, an annual project designed to highlight students who have made the most of their time at UNH and truly claimed their education. McCandless is an active participant with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as well as a member of the President's Athletic Advisory Committee. Furthermore, she has given back to the swim community as a coach for clubs in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
In order to receive the distinction, the student-athlete must serve as a starter or a prominent reserve and carry a minimum GPA of 3.50. A committee of athletic administrators as well as NCAA Faculty Athletics Representatives chose an honoree within the sport.
"Lauren has had a truly amazing career here, and she has become one of UNH's most highly decorated student-athletes in any sport both athletically and academically," said Josh Willman, head coach of the women's swimming & diving team. "Her legacy to the program goes beyond her achievements. She has been a phenomenally caring yet assertive leader and tremendous teammate. Lauren is the ultimate role model and we are confident that there are great things in store for her as she graduates and begins the next chapter of her life."
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