Release: February 7, 2007
& Diving heads to America East Championships
"We train hard for five months, all in preparation for this week," said first-year head swim coach Sean Clark. "We are mentally prepared, physically rested and ready to handle the amount of intensity. There's no doubt all our eggs are in one basket."
On the men's side, the Bearcats boast a 6-3 dual meet record and currently find themselves ranked 14th in the collegeswimming.com mid-major poll.
Three-time America East Swimmer of the Week David Holmes (Doncaster, England) leads the charge for BU. Holmes is the defending conference champion in both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, as well as the 200 individual medley. He enters the meet as the league's top seed in six individual events.
Joining Holmes in the defending champion circle is sophomore sensation Brenno Varanda (St.Petersburg, Fla.). Varanda captured both the 200-yard breast and 400-yard individual medley last season. He has enjoyed a terrific season capturing 17 individual victories.
In his last collegiate dual meet, Koizim was a triple-winner at Colgate, earning America East Men's Swimmer of the Week honors for the first time in his career. At last year's championships, he placed second in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and third in the individual medley. As a sophomore, Stone, a three-time captain, claimed second and third place honors in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, respectively.
Coming off some quick times
in their last dual meet, Clark expects a host of underclassmen
will make solid contributions this weekend.
On the boards, Ryan Graham (Vestal, N.Y.) and Matt Russo (Manhattan, N.Y.), along with freshman Robert Nolte (Schnectady, N.Y.) have all been consistent point scorers throughout the season and expect to continue that trend in the 1-meter and 3-meter diving championships for the men's diving squad.
"We have been real pleased with the strength of our three guy divers," said Clark. "Every time they get on the boards, they are throwing out something new. I expect them to make a little splash for us and put up some big scores."
At the top of the league, three UMBC vies for their 10th consecutive conference championship and fourth straight since joining the America East. The Retrievers topped the Bearcat men earlier this season by a 156.5-86.5 margin.
"After being picked fourth
in the conference during the preseason, I am pretty sure that
it's recognized that we are stronger than that. Looking at the
pre-meet seedings, UMBC is definitely the top dog. That being
said, we want to start nipping at their heels and make a push
to put some distance between us and the rest of the conference."
The Bearcat women will look to improve on a seventh-place finish at the 2006 America East Championships. BU posted a pair of dual meet victories this season, highlighted by its momentous victory over conference rival Stony Brook on January 17.
"That win has signaled a drive forward for our program," said Clark. "The team has really come together since that meet. The excitement and that belief continue in my women's team. We have a chance for us to be very close with them again. It's something we would love to see."
BU is driven by a young core of underclassmen, led by potential finalists sophomore Aleksandra Grubic (Split, Croatia) and the freshman duo of Lindsay Wright (Johnson City, N.Y.) and Allyce Brand (Highland Park, Ill.).
Sophomore Heather Jennings (Ridge, N.Y.) continues the youth movement as a solid contender in her specialty event the 400-yard individual medley. Juniors Nicole Sweeney (Commack, N.Y.) and captain Bridget Dormer (Northport, N.Y.) each are returning point scorers in the mile and 200-butterfly, respectively.
"I think last year we had seven women make it back for a second swim at night," said Clark. "This year we'd really like to equal or surpass that total. A lot of women are knocking at that door."
The diving squad figures to make an impact with four potential scoring divers, all of whom qualified for next week's ECAC Championships. Sophomores Kate Hassfurter (Horseheads, N.Y.) and Melanie Gelfand (Syosset, N.Y.), along with freshman Anne Malvasi (Liverpool, N.Y.) and Kristin Maney (New Paltz, N.Y.) lead the Bearcats efforts on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.
"We are expecting to get a nice push from diving for the team scores," said Clark. "Anna (Tutunnikova) has done a terrific job turning around the diving program. With four strong girls, you can bet we will be keeping an eye on what's going on their end."
The women's side of the meet will be a dog-fight with defending champion New Hampshire, Boston University and a much-improved UMBC squad all figuring to be in the mix. While Binghamton may not contend for the league crown, Clark expects his women to once again challenge the Seawolves.
"Every swim matters," said Clark. "We have to be aggressive in the morning and really attack the water. There is no reason to hold anything back. Stony Brook usually swim pretty well, but my women are hungry for it. We'll swim with some ferocity and hope for the best."
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