FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks are making a name for themselves in the swimming pool.
Junior Bente Heller and sophomore Margot Adams are ranked individually and all five relay teams are among the top 20 in the country at the NCAA Division II level.
Heller is No. 1 among D-II swimmers who have posted times in the 100-yard freestyle. She smashed the school record with a swim of 50.28 seconds at Husky Invitational in Federal Way, Wash., missing an automatic qualifying time by 0.06 seconds.
“In my mind, she is the best sprinter in the country,” Nanooks coach Scott Lemley said. “It’s taken two years to prove that to be true but she had to believe it first.
“Bente is so humble she wouldn’t let herself believe she was the fastest swimmer in the nation but now there’s proof,” Lemley said.
It marks the first time in program history an individual is ranked No. 1 in any event.
Heller ranks ninth in the 200 freestyle with a 1:51.62 and is tied for 11th in the 50 freestyle at 23.59.
Adams is one of the top-ranked butterfly swimmers in the country. She is fourth in the 200 butterfly at 55.35 and 15th in the 200 butterfly in 2:06.52. Adams finished second in the 200 butterfly at the NCAA Division II National Championships in March.
“She almost broke the varsity record in the 200 butterfly, which is the longest standing record the team has,” Lemley said. “She swam well but not as fast as she and I both were planning on. We have lots of work to do.”
Kelly Becker holds the record of 2:05.37 set on Nov. 18, 2006.
The 800 freestyle relay tops the list as it is in 10th position with a time of 7:42.97. Alaska finished fourth in the event at last year’s national championships.
The other four ranked relays are the 200 medley (13th, 1:46.79), 400 freestyle (17th, 3:32.94), 200 freestyle (18th, 1:37.20) and 400 medley (20th, 3:57.30).
“We swam well as a team but as an ‘A’ relay, our times were good, not great,” Lemley said. “If we’re going to do as well as last year, they have to be great. Part of that will be if Sam Taylor becomes eligible; she will be a big part of the relay.”
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