Coach Ashley Cox starts season with swim team

Head coach Ashley Cox and the Guilford College women’s swimming team get back to action Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Converse College Invitational. This will be Coach Cox’s second year leading the Quakers, and she returns her top three swimmers from last year: sophomore Carolyn O’Halloran, junior Kate Nunke, senior Isabel Gutierrez. Under Cox’s lead, the Quakers earned their first team victory since 2012.

“She is well organized and driven for success,” said sophomore swimmer Carolyn O’Halloran. “She wants the best out of each of us and I can tell personally that she loves what she is doing.”

Last year, O’Halloran was a leader for the Quakers even as just a first-year, explaining her excitement for the first-years this season to make an impact.

“Since the start of the season, we have in fact added more girls on the time, which has been a huge jump from last season,” said O’Halloran. “Our goal is to gain a stronger relationship between each swimmer and also train the new swimmers to become the best that they can be.

The first-year class features four swimmers: Jeanne Marie Darrow, Nima Lama, Grace Niangdimlun and Courtney Packer. This brings the roster total to only eight, a small, tight-knit team. But the team is looking to expand in order to diversify the events they can compete in.

“Hopefully, they can spread the word about Guilford College swimming so we grow as a team all together and gain more talent,” said O’Halloran.

It only took a season for O’Halloran’s name to find the record books. The sophomore holds the school mark in the 100-yard freestyle (57.48 seconds). She also swam the third (58.03) and fourth (58.69) fastest 100 freestyles at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships in February. It was at this event that she set the school standard in the 200-yard freestyle (2:09.01). She also holds the second place mark in school history (2:10.27) for the 200-yard freestyle and second place mark in the 50 freestyle (26.41).

Senior Isabel Gutierrez has enjoyed success over her career as well. She recorded the team’s fastest times in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:18.43), the 100-yard individual medley (1:18.77) and the 200-yard individual medley (2:37.26) last season. She set the breaststroke mark and won the race in a meet last October against Hollins University and crosstown rival Greensboro College. Her time is a personal best. Gutierrez also won both breaststroke races in a double-dual meet with Ferrum College and LaGrange College.

Junior swimmer Kate Nunke had the Quakers’ top times in the 50-yard (35.11), 100-yard (1:14.59), and 200-yard (2:43.03) backstroke and in the 500-yard freestyle (6:31.64). Her 100-yard backstroke mark won in the dual meet with Ferrum and LaGrange and her 200-yard backstroke mark earned second.

Following the Converse College Invitational, the Quakers will compete in the ODAC Relays hosted by Washington and Lee University starting Oct. 14. A week later, the Quakers will open official conference competition with a meet against Greensboro College, Saturday Oct. 21. The ODAC Championships will begin Feb. 9 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.