The Nevada women’s swim and dive team took an early dip into the Lombardi Pool during its first pentathlon on Sept. 21.
The contest was split between the silver and blue teams. The blue team swam away victorious with 67-49, but all signs point to another dominant 2019-20 campaign for the program.
Last season, the women’s team finished with a 9-1 overall record and 3-1 in conference play. Nevada was a perfect 2-0 during home meets, 4-1 on the road and 3-0 in neutral sites.
The Wolf Pack placed second in the 2019 Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. Nevada led for the first two days of the tournament, but San Diego State stormed back during the final two days to steal the win. Nevada finished 24th in the country during the NCAA Championships.
However, Nevada didn’t come away empty-handed. The Pack repeated as Mountain West champions in the 800-meter free relay for the second year in-a-row with Rebecca Murray, Caitlyn Richardson, Andressa Cholodovskis and Caitlyn McHugh taking home the title.
Nevada will retain several key members this season, including McHugh, who returns for her junior season. She finished in third place in the 1650-meter freestyle competition during the MWC championships last year and transformed into the team’s top distance swimmer. In the regular season, McHugh had two first-place finishes in the 500-meter and 1650-meter freestyle.
An additional five juniors will return to the squad. Donna dePolo looks to improve off a strong sophomore year. She finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:01.34 last season. Montana Lloyd tacked on a first-place finish with a 1:59.93 time in the 200-meter backstroke.
Eleven sophomores mark the most on the team. Lindsey Soule placed eighth in the 1650 meter freestyle in last year’s tournament. Sophomore Alexa Markel joins Soule to add to the impressive mix of young talent on the team. Markel finished in 23rd place in the 1650-meter freestyle.
Along with a heavy staff of sophomores, six incoming freshmen can help contribute and make an immediate impact. Colette Berkenfield was named to the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American team from 2017-19 during her time at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California. Valerie Kitchens holds the 4×100 relay record at Green Valley High School located in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Plenty of new faces fill the team, but Cholodovskis is the lone senior for Nevada. Originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, she represented her home country in the 2016 Olympics. She also set a championship record in the 4×100 freestyle at the 2015 South America Championships.
Cholodovskis has translated that success with the Wolf Pack. She placed first in the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly with times of 53.33 seconds and 1:46.82 last season.
Entering his fourth year, head coach Brendon Bray has plenty to work with. The Wolf Pack has lots of talent and the tools to make another strong push toward the Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships.
Nevada opens the season against San Diego State on Sept. 27 in Pullman, Washington.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.