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Courtesy: CAA
Old Dominion's Arni Arnason (left) and Towson's Cari Czarnecki (right)

2012 CAA Swimming and Diving Championships Set To Get Underway On Wednesday

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 02/21/2012
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RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 22, 2011) - The 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Swimming and Diving Championships are set to begin Wednesday afternoon at George Mason's Jim McKay Natatorium in Fairfax, Va. The four-day conference meet will conclude Saturday evening.

The UNCW men will vie for an unprecedented 11th-straight CAA championship this week, while the Towson women look to become the first team to win five straight conference titles.

Leading the charge for the Seahawk men at this year's event will be standout freshman Valtteri Halonen. Halonen has turned in the league's top time in the 100 and 200 back this season in addition to recording the third-fastest times in the 100 fly. Fellow freshman Christopher Fiala has posted top five times in the 50 free and 100 breast events. Sophomore Joe Gallene has the third-fastest CAA times in both the 50 and 100 free. The Seahawks have also been dominant in relay action this year and head to the conference meet touting the league's top times in three of five relay events.

After finishing as runner-ups to the Seahawks for the conference title in six of the past eight seasons, George Mason looks to prevail in its home waters this year. Mason will be led by three-time defending 500 free, 1650 free and 400 IM champion Preston Wolter, who recorded the league's fastest time in the 400 IM and the second fastest in the 1650 free. Representing Mason in the diving well will be senior sensation Derrick Butts, who recorded the CAA's top scores by more than 50 points in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives this season.

Old Dominion has also positioned itself as a strong contender to end the Seahawks' 10-year streak. The Monarchs boast the CAA's top times in seven of 14 individual races this season. Versatile senior Arni Arnason, who has captured seven conference titles in his first three years and looks to lock up a fourth straight in the 200 breast, has turned in top times in both breaststroke events and another in the 50 free and 200 IM this year. Sophomores Sidni Hoxha and Danny Camozzo have each posted the league's top times in the 100 free and 500 free events respectively.

Other notable men's returnees in Fairfax this week include Drexel freshmen Alex Galinskiy, who has the best time this year for the 200 free and second best in the 200 IM. William & Mary sophomore Andrew Strait ranks in the top four in both the 200 breast and 200 IM and Tribe senior Stephen Fay posted top six CAA times in the 100 free, 200 free and 500 free events.

On the women's side, Towson will be led by senior Cari Czarnecki. The defending champion in the 100 fly and 200 fly topped the best time in the 200 fly this season by almost three seconds. Sophomore Kaitlin Burke has posted the league's top times this year in both the 500 free and 1650 free, as well as the third-best time in the 200 free, the event she won at last year's championship. Senior Caroline Baker, who has the best CAA score in the 1-meter and second-best in the 3-meter, looks to become the first ever Tiger diver to capture a conference gold.

Following its runner-up finish at the conference meet a year ago, UNCW looks to contend once again, led by senior Anna Munger who has recorded the top time in the 50 free this season, as well as the second and third fastest in the 100 fly and 100 free events. Junior Carly Tanner will be a threat this week, ranking in the CAA's top six times in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 breast. The Seahawks were also tops in the league in the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay this season.

Versatile senior All-American Ashley Danner and her Mason squad will be comfortable in home waters this week. The three-time defending league champion in the 200 IM and both breaststroke events, Danner owns top times in the 100 and 200 free this season.

Old Dominion owns the fastest times in five individual races this season. Senior Erla Haraldsdottir will help lead the Lady Monarchs with her top time in the 200 IM and strong finishes in the breaststroke races this season. Junior Kimberly Rashleigh has recorded the top time in the 200 back and second fastest in 100 back, 200 IM and 400 IM.

James Madison also hopes to make waves at this year's conference meet behind a trio of talented divers. The Dukes, who have three divers with top six scores on each board this season, will be led by Kimberly Helfrich. The junior topped the 3-meter dive scoring this year and is second-best in the 1-meter. She will be joined in the well by senior Nicole Jotso, who claimed the 3-meter gold last year, and ranks third in this season's 1-meter scores and fourth in the 3-meter. Freshman Alex Savage rounds out the squad posting top six scores on each diving board.

More information about the 2012 conference championship can be found on our championship page. Live results are also available here. Stay tuned to for a recap following each night of action at this week's conference meet.