Freshmen in the spotlight: WSU swim sends two to NCAA Championships

Star freshmen to represent WSU at NCAA Championships


Courtesy of WSU Athletics

Emily Lundgren finishes a race at senior night meet vs Idaho.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor

Following the CSCAA National Invitational Championships this week, the Cougs will send two freshmen to the NCAA Championships for the first time next Wednesday.

Under head coach Matt Leach, the Cougars have had an NCAA Championship participant three times but never multiple in one year. This year is the first since 2009 the Cougs will send multiple swimmers.

The two swimmers representing WSU are Dori Hathazi, who took seventh in the 200-yard butterfly at the Pac-12 Championships, and Emily Lundgren, who took third in the 200-yard breaststroke. Lundgren’s goal is to be a Pac-12 champ in the future and inspire the rest of her team.

“I think I definitely inspire not only the other freshman but some of the upperclassmen. I know they inspire me and it just makes us excited for next season to go in and try and get more people in the top eight at [the Pac-12 Championships] and try and get more to NCAA’s next year,” Lundgren said.

It has been a historic season for these two young stars, but not a surprising one to head coach Matt Leach. As for Hathazi, Leach said they knew she was really talented coming in from swimming in Olympic pools, but she just needed to improve her mental game.

“There was one moment where coach [Kate Moore] and Dori sat down and connected about how important your body language and mindset are and how that leaks into performance, that was at Pac-12’s, and from that conversation on she just took off, I mean it was the same Dori, just more hungry,” Leach said.

As for Lundgren, she began to skyrocket while being recruited by WSU and has continued that progression all season, especially in the 200-yard breaststroke, Leach said.

“It was the 200-yard breaststroke that really took off and she’s dropped roughly five seconds off it this year, all of a sudden she’s coming in with school records,” Leach said.

The goal is to do things WSU has not done in some time and get on the board, and the expectation is that Hathazi and Lundgren will do a great job representing WSU on the big stage.

“I know Dori and [Lundgren] are gonna do a great job and represent us well, that’s the biggest thing,” Leach said. “We go there to try and improve and try to get Washington State on the map and be top 40, top 35 would be great, but it’s about getting to that meet and learning and growing while we’re there.”

The event begins next Wednesday in the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, and runs through Saturday. 

Regardless of results, the future of the WSU swim program is bright and the team behind Leach and two star freshmen are on the rise.