Oakland, CA–March 02, 2016
Mills College swimmer Melissa Berkay made school history by qualifying for the NCAA national championships in North Carolina this month, said Cyclones swim team head coach Neil Virtue.
Berkay, a junior, qualified for the national championships with a standout time in the 200-yard butterfly at the Liberal Arts Championships at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, in February.
She will compete in the 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, March 16–19.
It is the first time a Mills swimmer has made it to the national championships. “This is a really challenging and exciting accomplishment for Melissa and the school,” said Virtue, who has been head coach 14 years. “It doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and commitment. She has the natural ability and experience, is super committed and competitive, and likes to race.”
At the championships Berkay will compete in the 200-yard butterfly, the 200-yard individual medley, and the 100-yard butterfly.
The Cyclones as a team brought focus and determination to the Liberal Arts Championship, which was the last regular season meet. Morgan Leishman set four Mills records at the meet and placed in the top three in the 200-yard backstroke. Her times in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke placed her in the top eight swim times at the meet. Senior Dani Sherman posted a season best in the 500-yard freestyle swim. And senior Danelis Padron finished the meet with three lifetime bests in the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle, and the 100-yard freestyle.
Overall the eight-woman team placed 10th out of 12 teams at the Liberal Arts Championships, “which is a good accomplishment for us,” Virtue said.