LOS ANGELES, Calif. - In a statement of teamwork and empowerment for women across the globe, six female athletes will come together on June 16th to swim the Catalina Channel in a unique 40-mile relay event. All six swimmers are current or former student-athletes, representing three of the original Seven Sisters Colleges (Mount Holyoke College, Wellesley College, Smith College, Bryn Mawr College, Vassar College, Barnard and Radcliffe).
The two-way Catalina Channel open-water swim is scheduled to begin the evening of Friday, June 16th from the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Each woman in the relay will swim in one-hour shifts starting first from the California mainland to Catalina Island. The swimmer will touch the shore and then turn around to swim all the way back.
Among the team members for this unique event are Abigailby Bergman '18, Charlotte Samuels '20 and Eliza Cummings '17 from Smith College, Rebecca Nevitt '88 and Gabriela Kovacikova '174 from Wellesley College, and Cathleen Pruden '16 from Mount Holyoke College.
Each of these women have competed and excelled at the college level, including in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). Among the many highlights for the group include a previous swim across the Catalina Channel in 2016 by Bergman. Cummings completed a Plymouth to Provincetown crossing, while Samuels is the youngest swimmer to have completed the Triple Crown of swimming (English Channel, Catalina Channel and circumnavigation of Manhattan Island). Nevitt has also swum both the Manhattan and Catalina routes. Kovacikova swam the English Channel in 2013, while Pruden takes to the open water following a collegiate career that saw her earn NEWMAC Swimmer of the Year honors twice, in addition to All-America three straight years in the 400-individual medley.
The group released a mission statement for the swim ahead of this historic event stating: 'As Seven Sisters College students and graduates, we all believe in the power of women supporting women to achieve greatness. The six of us on this relay represent women of different ages, interests and geographical location, bound by a fierce love for challenge and passion for excellence that we developed at our respective colleges. We are embarking on this relay to be an example of empowerment; found when women take on an incredible challenge as a team and work together, and empowerment via paying it forward and being a role model for those who want to dream big and fulfill their own goals.'
In her career, Pruden was a three-time NCAA National All-American in the 400-IM (National All-America Honorable Mention in 200-IM). A three-time CSCAA National All-America First Team honoree, she was also an eight-time NEWMAC champion, as well as a two-time conference Swimmer of the Year recipient. Pruden was an eight-time NEWMAC All-Conference First Team selection, as well as a 17-time Seven Sisters Champion.
Named the NEWMAC Swimmer of the Week 15 times during her career, including six during the 2015-16 campaign, she holds the records in five Seven Sisters events. Pruden also holds 13 of Mount Holyoke's 23 school records, including nine individual.
Pruden, a three-time NEWMAC Academic All-Conference Team selection, further etched her name into the record books with her third straight Academic All-America honor, becoming just the second individual in Mount Holyoke history to reach the feat three times. She joined former volleyball standout, Michelle Johannes '92, who earned Third Team (1990), First Team (1991) and Second Team (1992) during her career.
In addition to serving on the Mount Holyoke Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, including as its Chair, she is a head coordinator and volunteer swim instructor for Project SPLASH! Pruden also received the 2014 Psychology and Education Department Award for Academic Excellence, was named a Sarah Williston Scholar, and also earned the 2016 Mount Holyoke Student Leadership and Service Award.
A Special Olympics Clinic Volunteer at the 2016 NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships, Pruden also spent four years serving as an MHC Youth Learn-to-Swim and aquatics safety instructor. She was a speaker for the MHC Athletics Department at various events, and was also a Mount Holyoke Admissions Ambassador during her career.
Additionally, Pruden – who was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society in 2016 - was named the 2016 Laurie Priest Alumnae Association Scholar Athlete winner, given to an exceptional athlete who displays great character and leadership, exemplary scholarship and is an outstanding representative of the school and athletic program.