After over a month of two-a-day practicing, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are ready to start competing.
Both teams have been lifting and swimming since the middle of September in an effort to improve on a commendable 2013-2014 season. Both the men's and women's squads finished 15th at the NCAA national competition last season.
This season looks different for the men’s team which graduated a number of fast seniors including Matt Haeske. Haeske's departure opens a slot on the 800-freestyle relay that placed seventh nationally. In addition to Haeske, the relay consisted of senior Casey Hooker and juniors Stephen McMurtry and Thomas Grissom. Despite McMurtry swimming in the relay last season, his spot is up for grabs this season.
“There’s about five guys competing for the two remaining spots on the relay,” said Adam Cohen, head men’s swimming and diving coach.
Despite uncertainty about the 800-freestyle relay, the team has high hopes for the 400-freestyle relay, which placed fourth in the nation and returns all of its members: seniors Casey Hooker and Alex Alfonso, as well as juniors Blake Lehmann and Thomas Grissom.
Unlike last season, this season the men's team has a diver, first-year Eric Addy. Cohen believes his addition will help the team compete with North Coast Athletic Conference rivals Denison University and Kenyon College.
“That’s going to be a lot of points for us at conference,” Cohen said.
The women’s team is also set for another strong season. They graduated only two seniors last year. The squad returns all members of its 400-freestyle relay, which finished tenth in the nation. The relay team consisted of senior co-captain Emily Weber, juniors Erin Horne and Caroline Bridges and sophomore Kirsten Olson.
The same women will swim the 800-freestyle relay again this season: Olson, Bridges, Weber and sophomore standout Angela Newlon. Last season, the four palced fifth nationally and are expected to place again this season.
In addition to the 800-free relay, Newlon placed ninth nationally in the 500-freestyle and was voted Newcomer of the Year.
Sophomore swimmer Jamie Fritsch believes “ that it’s almost guaranteed [Newlon]” will have another standout year.
Despite returning the majority of their team, the women’s swimming and diving team will still sustain a major loss. Assistant Coach Alyssa Swanson will leave the team Wednesday after accepting a job at the Scott’s Company. The team is currently searching for a replacement, but for the time being the position will be left vacant, leaving head coach Ben Hewitt shorthanded.
With high expectations for their respective seasons, both teams are eagerly waiting to swim competitively again.
“They’re really anxious to swim a meet,” Cohen said about his teams.
Both the men and women open their seasons this weekend at the Indiana Intercollegiate Invitational hosted by Purdue University.