FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 2013-14 Northern Arizona swimming & diving season begins this Friday with the team's 18th annual Pentathlon in the Wall Aquatic Center. The Pentathlon, scheduled for 2 p.m., is free for all fans to attend. Twenty-five of the 26 swimmers on the 2012-13 roster will compete in the swimming-only meet with the team's five divers set to make their debut in the team's Blue-Gold meet on Oct. 11.
"It'll be a great way to see where our swimmers are and compare them to where they were last year or to set the bar moving forward this year," said head coach Andy Johns. "For our newcomers, it's a chance to see them race here. The Pentathlon will give us some insights to everyone's strengths and weaknesses and see how they react to racing in a time-trial event."
Each of the participating swimmers will swim in all five events which will include the 200 Individual Medley in addition to 100 meter races in the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. The Pentathlon will mark the debuts of the team's six newcomers, while the team's group of talented newcomers headlined by senior All-Americans Jordan Burnes, Emma Lowther and Rachel Palmer as well as sophomore Ellie Morrissey, last season's WAC Freshman of the Year and NAU Female Newcomer of the Year.
A year ago, Palmer repeated as the Pentathlon champion after winning the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke while finishing second in the 100 butterfly. Lowther finished second after winning both the 100 fly and 100 freestyle in addition to her runner-up finish in the 200 IM. Senior Stirling Smith claimed the title in the 100 breaststroke.
The NAU swimmers will compete in the Pentathlon after nearly a month of training to date.
"There's been a lot of teaching and a lot of learning both in and out of the pool, in the weight room," Johns said. "We've been trying to increase our fitness and working on some technical things that we needed to. We're excited about the energy and the potential that this team has. They're chomping at the bit to not just practice, but to race."
The Pentathlon will be the first of two intrasquad meets for the NAU swimming & diving team with the team's Blue vs. Gold meet in two weeks. The team's season opener will be on Oct. 26 versus New Mexico at the Wall Aquatic Center.