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Championship is March 23-26 in Knoxville

Eight swimmers will compete at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championship March 23-26 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Following its best finish at the NESCAC championship in school history, the women's team is sending six athletes to nationals. Two members of the men's team will also compete.

Senior Sarah Murphy, who broke school records in all four of her events at the NESCAC championship, will compete in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly. She has earned honorable mention All-America honors for both events.

Murphy will be making her third consecutive appearance at nationals, while Erika Fernandes '12, Katie Karlson '13, Caitlin Munns '11, Julia Pielock '14 and Jessica Schanzer '13 are all first-time qualifiers, set to compete in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley relays.

Fernandes will also look to make a splash in the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard breaststroke after turning in All-NESCAC finishes in both events at the conference championship. Schanzer will compete in the 200-yard backstroke and Pielock will swim the 50-yard freestyle.

Junior Tim Walsh and freshman Ryan Dignan will represent the men's team. Walsh, a three-time qualifier, has posted the second fastest Division III time in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke this year. Walsh set a NESCAC record at this year's conference championship in the 50-yard backstroke, and in 2009, he garnered All-America Honors with a sixth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke at the NCAA championship.

Dignan will compete in the 200-yard freestyle.

The women's team placed fourth at the NESCAC championship meet last month, with an all-time high score of 1,114 points. The men's team finished fifth in the conference, with three top-place finishes by Walsh.

Men's and women's head coach Marc Benvenuti was named women's swimming and diving NESCAC Coach of the Year for the third time in six years. This year, he said, more Connecticut College athletes were invited to compete at nationals than ever before.

"This is the best team we have ever had," Benvenuti said. "Coach of the Year is a great honor, but it s really a reflection of all the work the swimmers did all year, our great senior leadership and our commitment to being the best we can be."

- By Will Tomasian, with additional reporting by Amy Falk '11

March 15, 2011