JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman swim teams will embark on their most difficult battle of the 2015-16 season as the Eagles travel to the Rock Hill Aquatic Center in Rock Hill, S.C. for the four-day Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships that includes six ranked teams and the defending men's and women's Division II National Champions.
"We have begun our taper process, so the athletes have rested up for the first time in about six months; we've come off weights completely and we are sharpening up," coach Paige McCord said about her team's preparations. "The athletes are looking fast in the water and they are ready to swim well in the upcoming week."
Last year, the women's team finished in fourth-place at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center while the men ended in sixth-place. Former Eagles Natalie Burnett and Paul Ungur became the first two C-N swimmers to become BMC Champions; Carson-Newman swimmers took home 28 All-BMC accolades at the 2015 Championships.
This year, the women's side enters ranked 17th in the nation and have two BMC Swimmers of the Week on the roster in sophomore Margaret Stansberry (Knoxville, Tenn.) and freshman Olivia Winkler (Marietta, Ga.). Stansberry owns four top-times for the program this season in the 200 Free, 100 Back, 200 Back and 200 Individual Medley. Sophomore Lexy Raybon (Sarasota, Fla.) owns the distance times for the Eagles in the 500, 1000 and 1650 Free.
The men's team is receiving votes in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll and also have two BMC Swimmers of the Week in sophomore Ryan Burcham (Lenoir City, Tenn.) and freshman Jon Lancaster (Ringgold, Ga.). Lancaster has reset three school in the distance Free events of the 500, 1000 and 1650.
Awaiting the Eagles in Rock Hill will be the top-ranked Queens (N.C.) Royals, who are the reigning Division II champions. The Royals are the number one team on both the men's and women's side. The Wingate Bulldog's women's team is tied for fifth in the CSCAA poll while the men are 13th; the Limestone Saints' men's team eked into the coaches' poll in 25th.
Besides the Eagles, Royals, Bulldogs and Saints, the BMC is comprised of: the Catawba Indians, Chowan Hawks, Converse Valkyries, Davis & Elkins Senators, Fairmont State Falcons, John Hopkins Blue Jays, Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, Savannah College of Art and Design Bees and the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats.
The BMC Championships will begin Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. with the first preliminary session. A full recap and results will be available on cneagles.com following the conclusion of each night's finals session and on Twitter at @cnathletics.