OXFORD, OHIO 3/14/08 - Keene State College freshman Rachel Mondello came up short in her bid to become the first women swimmer at the school to earn All-America honors on Friday.
Mondello from Stoneham, Mass. placed 26th out of 51 competitors in the trials of the 50-yard freestyle race at the 2008 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships held at the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center on the Miami of Ohio University campus. The top eight moved on to the finals.
"It was a great experience," said Mondello, who clocked a time of 24.51 seconds. "I tried to treat it like any other meet, but I was nervous. When you step up on the blocks and look across at all the swimmers representing schools from all over the country, you can't help but feel like your part of something special."
"Rachel swam well, but it's intimidating, especially if you're a freshman," said KSC Coach Jack Fabian. "She now knows what she needs to do to get back here and earn All-America honors."
Mondello, a three-time All-LEC, four-time ECAC Open, and seven-time All-New England swimmer for Keene State, had a fantastic first season swimming for the Owls. She broke the school's 50 and 100 freestyle records and helped set four relay marks on the way to becoming the first KSC women swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
It's been 24 years since Keene State sent an athlete to the national swim meet and over 30 years since a KSC competitor earned All-America. Diver Diana Robbins qualified for NCAA championships four consecutive seasons (1981-84). In 1975 Ron Demers earned All-America honors in the breaststroke. A year later, Demers won the award again and joined Dave Hague, Carl Arlig, Dan Caron, and Newell Roberts as a member of KSC's All-American 400 freestyle relay team.
Mondello hopes she doesn't have to wait long for her next chance to receive the prestigious honor. "When I train next season, I'm going to visualize the award ceremony in my mind," she said. "I'm sure that going to give me plenty incentive to return to the NCAA meet next year."