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Swimming & Diving 2012-13 Season Preview

Bearcats return five all-conference performers

October 26, 2012


Swimming & Diving 2012-13 Season Preview

Contact: Terrence Lollie (sports@binghamton.edu)

The Binghamton University men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs begin the 2012-13 season on Saturday, Oct. 27 when the Bearcats welcome defending America East champion on both fronts, Boston University to the Patricia A. Saunders Aquatic Center. The competition is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and will be a ‘CODE GREEN’ event in recognition of Binghamton’s mantra, ‘21 sports, one team.’

Binghamton’s outlook for the 2012-13 campaign is one of improving on last year’s performance at the America East Championships. This past February, the men finished third for the fifth consecutive year, while the women placed seventh at the conference meet hosted by Boston University.

With the departure of Boston University to the Patriot League next year and Stony Brook taking a leave of absence for the 2012-13 season, the path to the top should be a little smoother for Binghamton in Maine next February.

Head coach Sean Clark returns for his seventh season at the helm of the Bearcats’ program with a pair of new additions to his staff. Joining Clark as first-year assistants are Andrew Palumbo, a former Binghamton swimmer and conference champion and Samantha Graham, a conference finalist while diving for Maine.

“We are in an interesting position this year with Boston leaving and Stony Brook taking a year off,” head coach Sean Clark said. “However, it will still be tough and we like the challenge. We have some of the most impressive senior leadership I’ve been around and one of the strongest freshmen classes ever.”

Despite the loss of four-time America East champion Nolan Slesnick, Binghamton returns a pair of all-conference swimmers in senior captains Tim Cabasino and Josh Saccurato to lead a young, but talented group of underclassmen. Cabasino took silver in the 100 free while also claiming finalist finishes in the 50 free and 100 breast. Saccurato, a two-time all-conference performer, donned a bronze medal at last season’s conference meet for his swim in the 200 IM. He also earned a pair of finalist showings in the 200 fly and 400 IM.

“Our guys are extremely versatile with their abilities,” Clark continued. “We have so many options with each event that it keeps our opponents guessing and our swimmers excited.”

Building upon the leadership developed by Cabasino and Saccurato is fellow classmate and captain Aaron Budner. At the 2012 Championships, Budner claimed three top-eight finishes in the 100 and 200 fly and the 200 IM.

“We will really be looking to our top guys to continue to perform at a high level,” Clark noted. “Tim had a breakout year last season while Josh and Aaron really stepped up for us big time and all three were event finalists in three different swims at the Championships. These guys are true leaders in and out of the pool.”

Cabasino will lead the charge in the sprint freestyle events along with sophomore Leo Wright, who won the consolation final in the 50 free. Freshmen Brian McKenna and Darin Gillenwater have both proven themselves early on pushing the top returners during practice. Sophomore Emmet Jacobi will look to improve upon his consolation finalist finishes in the 200 and 500 free in his second year. Devon Byrt will provide senior leadership coming off a pair of consolation finalist performances himself last Feburay. Jacobi will also be relied upon to headline the distance swimmers as he will help guide freshmen Pat Kilgallen, Andrew Duszynski and Isaac Vingan.

In the butterfly events, Clark will lean upon Saccurato and Budner along with junior John Pangal. All three were conference finalists in the 200 fly. Saccurato is battling a nagging shoulder injury that he swam through at last year’s Championship, so Clark is looking for a breakout year from junior Ed Hausmann to provide support.

The breaststroke could be one of the deepest units that Clark has at his disposal. In addition to Cabasino, senior Andrew Ellman and junior Colin Figus are also returning AE finalists. Wright and Vestal native San Yoon both made huge steps as freshmen and will add depth to an already strong stroke. Freshmen Tom Cummings and Kevin Ling will challenge the upperclassmen all year as they look to prove themselves.

Senior Mark Cereste and sophomore Alexi Corey highlight the backstrokers. Both were conference finalists and Corey broke the freshmen record in the 200 back. Providing depth to the event will be sophomores Winston Chiang, a conference finalist and Chris Doherty, who turned in a pair of consolation finalist performances at the conference meet. Freshmen Brian McKenna and Eric Farm have displayed signs of strength in the stroke as well.

A two-time all-conference performer in the individual medleys, Saccurato will look to improve upon his past swims at the conference meets. Binghamton has five returners (Saccurato, Budner, Ellman, Cereste and Figus) that placed in the top 16 in the 200 IM at the Championships. Saccurato and Figus turned in top 10 performances in the 400 IM to round out the most rigorous event.

Headlining the Bearcats’ on the boards will be sophomore Devin Zdanowski and senior Justin Mattison. After slipping on his first attempt on the three-meter board in 2012, Zdanowski battled back to earn a bronze and all-conference honors. Just missing his second top-three showing, the second-year diver also finished fourth on the one-meter board. Mattison placed sixth in the three-meter dive and seventh on the one-meter board to claim a pair of finalist honors.

The women are seeking a much stronger performance at the 2013 America East Championships after returning all point scorers from the 2012 conference meet. Binghamton placed seventh crowning two all-conference swimmers and one champion. 

“We are disappointed with the way things ended for us last year,” Clark proclaimed. “We had the talent and the requisite training, but some injuries and ailments plagued us. We’re excited to get back at it this year as a strong freshmen class enters the fold and the extra motivation of last year’s performance pushes us everyday.”

The Bearcats are led by all-conference performers Olivia Baczek and Corinne Zotter. Baczek, a senior captain, touched second in the 50 free setting a new school record with a time of 23.64. Zotter, Binghamton’s lone champion, won gold in the 100 breast breaking her own school record with a time of 1:03.89.

“We definitely made two stars (Baczek and Zotter) last year,” Clark noted. “Olivia has progressed every year and has earned the right to be one of the best swimmers in program history and Corinne is attentive, motivated and tough and is every bit the swimmer we thought she could be.”

A large stable of freestyle swimmers comprise Clark’s unit led by Baczek in the sprint freestyles. Joining her is sophomore Caitlin Kelly who set the freshmen records in both the 50 and 100 free. Captain Caitlin Nelson is poised for a strong senior year, while sophomores Shannon Lampe, Michaela Pujals and Emelia Carlino have all shown early speed. The middle distances are not as deep, but Nelson and senior Lauri Crimmins and sophomore Timea Toszer allow Clark the ability to manipulate the lineup. Freshman Taryn McLaughlin could prove to be Binghamton’s top performer by seasons end. Senior Karissa Gorman returns as the school record holder in the mile swim as sophomore Stephanie Lindahl and freshman Stephanie Malyszka add to the distance arsenal.

The group of butterflyers are young, but gifted. Losing former America East champion Tiffany Siu to a career-ending injury hampers the Bearcats in the fly events, but incoming freshmen Haley Rice and Selina Ng were both New York State finalists and have looked fast in preseason workouts. Senior Danielle Blom along with freshmen McLauglin and Elle Anastasiou offer much needed depth to a otherwise light unit.

Zotter will headline the breastrokers and seeks a sweep of the events at the 2013 conference meet. Gorman and former school record holder Lauren Flower are pushing Zotter and have the talent to record low times. “We’ve never been as well situated in the breast as we are this year, with Chelsea Deignan and Caitlin Kelly also bolstering the unit,” Clark mentioned. Gorman was a consolation finalist in the 100 and 200 breast at the conference meet.

The backstroke events will boast a deeper unit than in recent years. Baczek, who took silver in the 200 back at the conference meet and in the process set a new school record, highlights a powerful corp. Senior Melissa Lindahl, older sister of Stephanie, will be another one of Binghamton’s main options. However, Lampe, Kimberly Ong, Raquel Giner and Karina Hain are all capable of putting up good times.  All six show up on Binghamton’s all-time top-10 list in the backstroke events. Freshman Claudia Coccaro will have a host of backstrokers to learn from as she enters the mix.

The absence of Tiffany Siu will again hinder Binghamton in the IM events, but returners Flower, Hain and Giner are all capable of filling the gap. Hain swam to a consolation finalist finish in the 400 IM at last year’s conference meet.

Sophomores Imani Williams and Kimberly Robertson are returning point scorers from last February’s conference meet and each will seek to improve on their finishes. Freshman Katie Ellsworth will reinforce a gifted unit of divers.

Clark comprised a difficult dual meet schedule that entices his team to battle every time they enter the water. “I want our swimmers to give it their all each and every time they dive in,” he said. “We are going against some tough competition and I love swimming against the best.”

Binghamton will face conference champions in the aforementioned Boston University, Massachusetts (Atlantic 10) and Marist (MAAC). St. Bonaventure, the Atlantic 10 runnersup also grace the Bearcats’ schedule as well as Patriot League powers Bucknell and Colgate. Clark also decided to forego Binghamton’s annual trip to the Western New York Invite instead opting to compete in the Bucknell Invitational which mirrors the format of the America East Championships.

“We’re extremely excited about our schedule and seeing how our talent stacks up against some of the best programs in the Northeast,” Clark concluded. “It’s been a long preseason and its time to get going, so let’s get after it.”

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