New Paltz’ Jessica Lester is Top Female Finisher in 10K at Elan Round the Sound Swim

BERMUDA, October 19. IF Sunday was any indication of how good a season senior Jessica Lester (Long Beach, N.Y.) of the State University of New York at New Paltz women's swimming team will have, fans of the program will be in for a real treat. Lester was the top female finisher in the 10K at the annual Elan Round the Sound Swim Sunday in Bermuda.

Overall, Lester finished 10th in a 69-person, coed field with a swift time of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds.

There were five races total in this open-water swimming competition—the 0.8K, the 2K, the 4K, the 7.25K and the 10K. Alexander Brown won the 0.8K (6:49), Nicholas Patterson took the 2K (27:15), Wyatt Collins captured the 4K (53:52), Isabel Shipman topped the 7.25K field (1:35:17) and Brian Hogan claimed the 10K (2:04:03).

"This was one of the best performances by a New Paltz swimmer during my tenure here," head swimming coach Scott Whitbeck said. "It came out of nowhere. I'm happy that she's been as committed as she has to maintaining her level of fitness this early in the season. I'm extremely excited to see what she might be able to accomplish this year after that swim."

Perhaps more impressive than where she placed was who she beat. Lester finished three minutes ahead of Whitney Sprague, the second woman to complete the race. Sprague was a four-time All-American and a two-time Honorable Mention All-American who competed for the University of North Carolina from 2005-09. Sprague ended her career with a 15:46.57 1650 freestyle at the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, which was good for second overall.

Lester has made a mark on the New Paltz program, having earned All-State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) honors each of the past three seasons. She earned Second-Team mention during the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons and picked up First-Team laurels in 2008-09. She holds individual program records in the 1000 freestyle (10:39.77) and the 1650 freestyle (17:36.70) and was a member of two program-record-setting relays—the 400 freestyle relay (3:32.91) and the 800 freestyle relay (7:49.78).

Lester and the rest of the Hawks are chomping at the bit for their first competition of the season, which is slated for Saturday, Oct. 30. New Paltz travels to Schenectady, N.Y., for the Union Relays, and the meet is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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