Christensen Selected as a Top 30 NCAA Woman of the Year Honoree
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Former Cavalier Mei Christensen, who completed her eligibility on the Virginia swimming team in 2010, has been selected as a Top 30 honoree for the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s Woman of the Year award.
The NCAA Woman of the Year award honors female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their college careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership.
“It is obvious by her academic and athletic accomplishments that Mei Christensen is a champion and fierce competitor in the classroom and in the water,” Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage said. “Few student-athletes have compiled a more impressive resume. She is one of our program’s all-time greats.”
The Top 30 honorees, nominated by conference and independent members, are representative of multiple sports. This year a record 452 student-athletes were nominated and 10 honorees were selected from each of the three NCAA divisions.
Three finalists will be chosen from each division to form the nine finalists for the Woman of the Year award. The national winner will be chosen by the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics. The recipient of the 20th annual award will be announced during the 2010 NCAA Woman of the Year awards event Oct. 17 in Indianapolis.
“I am extremely surprised and honored to be selected as one of the Top 30 female student-athletes for Woman of the Year,” Christensen said. “It’s neat to look back at past winners and all the schools they represent. I am honored to be in the running.”
Christensen repeated as the Atlantic Coast Conference Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and was also tabbed the conference’s scholar-athlete of the year for women’s swimming and diving. The Reston, Va., native defended her ACC individual titles in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events and claimed league championships with the 200 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 medley relay teams.
As a team captain in 2010, Christensen led the Virginia women’s squad to its third consecutive conference title – a first in program history. The Cavaliers went on to place ninth at the NCAA Championships, their best finish since 1988.
“It is a tremendous honor for the University of Virginia and all student-athletes who represent our school in competition for Mei to be honored in this way,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “Obviously, Mei’s athletics accomplishments throughout her storied career have been well chronicled. What has not been as well chronicled is her work as a human being in the Charlottesville and University communities as well as her exceptional academic achievement. We are extremely proud of Mei and all she has accomplished as a student, person and athlete.”
Christensen went on to pick up All-America honors in the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Christensen finished her career at UVa as the school and conference record holder in the 100 and 200 backstroke events, as well as the 200 medley, 400 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. She earned eight career All-America and four honorable mention All-America honors and was a 12-time ACC champion. A recipient of the ACC’s Weaver-James-Corrigan postgraduate scholarship, Christensen was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll four times.
In addition to being named the conference’s swimmer of the year in 2009 and 2010, Christensen earned a spot on the United States National Team in the 100-meter backstroke. She was also selected as the 2009 ACC Swimmer of the Championships.
Christensen was actively involved in University and Charlottesville community service endeavors. She was a member of UVa’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee for two years and participated with the Madison House Boosters as part of Cavs in the Classroom. She also served as a Big Sister to the CYAC Swim Team and was involved with the Special Olympics 10K Run.
Christensen earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in May of 2010. She is currently enrolled in UVa’s Curry School of Education and is slated to receive her master’s degree in December.
Virginia’s Peggy Boutilier, a two-sport student-athlete in field hockey and lacrosse, was named the NCAA Woman of the Year in 1998. Additionally, Charlotte Quesada, a UVa rower, was selected as a finalist in 1999.