Denton (2/21/07) The North Texas swimming and diving team completed its most successful season in the program’s nine-year history in 2007 with a dual-meet season record of 7-5 and a fourth-place finish at the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
In his first season at North Texas, head coach Joe Dykstra led the team to its first tournament win at the annual UALR Christmas Invitational, putting up a final score of 811 points. Under his direction the team broke 17 of 21 school records in Dykstra's debut campaign. The Mean Green posted 54 separate top-five times in school history, and all five top times in the 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 400-yard individual medley, and the 200-yard medley relay were captured in '07.
North Texas also posted its highest finish at the SBC Championships with a fourth-place finish. The Mean Green nearly doubled it's score from the previous season, finshing with 467 points. Nicole Leslie finished off her freshman season by earning All-Sun Belt honors with a second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle. The Mean Green overall brought home four medals, three of which were in relays.
“The conference meet was incredible, achieving so many things for the first time in program history,” said Dykstra. “It is also very exciting to think about how most of our points scored will return next season. Our freshmen really did a tremendous job this year, and should only continue to improve and really make the North Texas a swimming and diving program to be reckoned with the next few years.”
Several key athletes had a breakout season in 2007 under the direction of Dykstra.
After receiving All-Sun Belt honors at the SBC Championships for her silver medal performance in the 100-yard freestyle, Nicole Leslie also finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle. Leslie now holds the school record in both events and has three separate top-five times in school history in those events. She was also a part of two school-record breaking relays at the SBC Championships; the 400-yard medley relay - which took second - and the 200-yard medley relay - which won the bronze medal and became the school's first ever medal-winning relay. She was a key cog in four record-breaking relays throughout the season and her three medals at the SBC Championships was the most of any Mean Green swimmer.
Freshman Alicia Hale broke four school records in regular season competition and was named Swimmer of the Week for her performance in the UALR Christmas Invitational. There she won three individual events, broke two individual school records and was also part of two school record-setting relay groups. She had a first-place finish in all but one dual meet in 2007 for a total of 14 individual first-place finishes, and was a part of two relay teams that finished first. She will make her way into her sophomore season holding 11 separate top-five times in school history. During the SBC Championship, she finished fourth in the 200-yard freestyle while breaking two of her previous school records. Hale also went on to post four separate top-five times, and was a part of two more record-breaking relay teams.
Junior Katie Lowry was named Swimmer of the Week by the Sun Belt Conference for the first time in her college career for her performance at the meet against the University of New Orleans. After sitting out half of the season due to a shoulder injury, Lowry showed improvement by winning both the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:11.04 and the 500 free with a time of 5:13.37. She now holds the second-best time in school history in the 200 butterfly, a record that stood for three years, and holds two top-five times in the 400-yard individual medley.
A transfer from the University of Kansas, Hannah Bakke made a splash when she set the school record in the 100-yard breaststroke during the first meet of the season and by the end of the season held four of the school's top-five times in the event. At the SBC Championships she finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke and fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke. Bakke took part in two record-breaking relays - the 400-yard medley relay that won the silver medal, and the 200-yard medley relay that claimed the bronze.
During regular season competition, junior Bonnie Garcia-Meitin had nine individual first-place finishes and was a part of four relay teams that finished first. She holds all five top times in school history in the 100 backstroke and holds the record in the 200 backstroke. She has also been a part of all record-breaking relay teams this season. At the SBC Championships, she finished fifth in the 100 back, and was a part of two medaling, record-breaking relay teams; the 400 medley relay, which won the silver medal, and the 200 medley relay which won the bronze medal.
Senior Lauren Harris won the first event of her college career at the last dual meet of the season with a time of 59.69 in the 100 fly against the University of New Orleans. At The SBC Championships, she was a part of the record-breaking 200 medley relay team which won the bronze medal with a time of 1:46.24.
Freshman diver Bailey Devine earned the honor of Diver of the Week by the Sun Belt Conference for her performance at the UALR Christmas Invitational where she earned a score of 318.90 in 1-meter diving and 355.65 in 3-meter diving. Devine has improved drastically this semester posting a point-increase of 192.15 in 1-meter diving and 179.47 in 3-meter diving since the season’s first meet.
“I thought this season we took a huge step in the right direction,” said Dykstra. “We established a culture of success in which the swimmers and divers understand the harder they work, the more success we can have. I think the foundation is now laid for us to build upon.”
North Texas returns 23 swimmers next year.