Birmingham, Ala. – Alaska Nanooks sophomore swimmer Cassidy Heaton ended the 2016-17 season on an extremely high note, dropping 12 seconds off of her qualifying time to place 24th overall in the 1,650-yard freestyle event on the final day of the 2017 NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving National Championships at the Crossplex Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The Fairbanks native had initially qualified for the 2017 NCAA National Championships with her 1,000-yard freestyle time but was invited to participate in the 500-yard freestyle and the 1,650-yard freestyle after posting NCAA "B" cut times in the respected events sometime throughout the season.
Heaton's 1,650-yard freestyle time of 17:27.71 at the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference Championships in February met the NCAA "B" cut criteria and made the sophomore eligible to compete in the event at the National Championship level.
Heaton was seeded 32nd of 32 swimmers in the event, putting her in the outside lane in her heat. Heaton used the outside lane to her advantage, going out early on then moving into a very fast, comfortable pace and then proceeded to pick off all but the fastest two swimmers in her heat.
Heaton concluded the mile-long race with a time of 17:15.78 to place 24th overall, knocking off almost 12 seconds off of her season-best time in the same event. Heaton placed third in her heat, outsprinting swimmers from PCSC powerhouses and conference foes Azusa Pacific and UC San Diego.
In her first NCAA appearance, Heaton's time marks a new varsity record.
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Release courtesy Nona Letuligasenoa, Nanooks Athletics