LANCASTER, Pa. – For the fifth straight season, the Ursinus College women's swimming team was chosen as the favorite in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
The six-time defending champions were the top choice of the conference's coaches, but it was not unanimous. The Bears earned six first-place votes and topped the poll with 48 total points, while Swarthmore collected the other two first-place votes and 44 points. Gettysburg was third with 37 points, followed by Franklin & Marshall (29), Dickinson (25), Washington College (21), McDaniel (11), and Bryn Mawr (9).
Ursinus enjoyed the most successful campaign in its history in 2019, sending six swimmers to the national championships and finishing a program-best 17th in Greensboro. Head coach Mark Feinberg, the eight-time reigning conference coach of the year, now has the task of pushing forward without the two most decorated student-athletes in school history in Clara Baker and Peyten Lyons, who combined for 19 All-America certificates and a truckload of individual CC medals.
This is far from a rebuilding project, however. Sophie May is a two-time national qualifier and has already racked up seven All-America honors in her first two seasons, while Sophie Lear is fresh off one of a historic debut campaign in which she was named both Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie at the CC championship meet.
Haley Sturla was a key cog in the Bears' relay machine a year ago, helping Ursinus to establish a new conference record in four of the five relay events at championships while also winning silver in the 200 breast. Katie Schultz joined Lear as one of the conference's most impactful newcomers, taking gold in the 400 IM and placing runner-up in both the 500 free and 1650 free. Both were NCAA qualifiers a year ago.
Stephanie Chell, Gabriela Howell, Margrethe Leis, Katelyn Moore, Ro Murphy, Liv Rachael, and Allison Thomas all have championship experience, and Feinberg will also hope for immediate contributions from the five first-year swimmers he used to restock the program.
The Bears open their new campaign at home on Saturday against Cabrini.