Swimming & Diving |
Oct. 14, 2010
By Jeff Gentil
University of Cincinnati Swimming and Diving is a little over a week from starting its season. Head coach Monty Hopkins, entering his 22nd season at the helm at UC, will see his teams face cross-town rival Xavier Friday, October 22 at the Keating Aquatics Center to kick off its 2010-2011 campaign.
The same questions face the Bearcats this and every year: Who will step up to replace the leadership lost by the graduating class? Who will have a breakout year? Which freshmen will be able to contribute immediately?
Naturally, losing All-American and Olympic hopeful Josh Schneider along with standout Jeremy Peter is going to hurt the men's chances of scoring, but the cupboard is not bare. Hopkins is expecting seniors Nathan Williams, Stephen Cunningham, Nate Kramer, and Britton Van Dissel to be major factors this season.
"Nathan (Distance Free/Mid-Distance) is our most accomplished and versatile overall returning swimmer," Hopkins said. "He placed second in the 1650 at the 2010 BIG EAST meet and was on the school record 4x200 Free Relay team. Stephen (Distance Free) made the finals in both 500 and 1650 Free and also on the school record 4x200 Free Relay. He is the 2009 Irish National Champion and a leader among the team and all UC student-athletes.
"Nate (Distance Free/Mid-Distance) also made the finals in both the 500 and 1650 Free and was another member of the school record 4x200 Free Relay," Hopkins continued. "He had really good swims this past summer at the Irish Nationals. And Britton (Breaststroke) made the final in the 100 breast and is our top returning sprint breaststroker."
Junior Matt Hays
and sophomore Roberto Nevarez
are two swimmers with the unenviable task of trying to replace Schneider.
"Matt (Sprint Free) made the final in the 50 and 100 free," Hopkins said. "He has big shoes to fill in sprint free replacing Josh as one of the top Bearcat sprinters. Roberto (Sprint Free/Fly) had an outstanding BIG EAST meet and will also be counted on to replace Josh."
Hopkins will have the benefit of a key transfer this season. Haywood Miller (Breaststroke/Individual Medley) begins his first season as a Bearcat following two seasons at Maryland.
"Haywood is a versatile swimmer who will fill the void left by Jeremy Peter," Hopkins stated. "He is starting to exhibit positive leadership at practices."
On the women's side, Hopkins will need to replace two valuable swimmers in Elinore de Jong and Lange Gilby, but has some strong contenders to do just that.
Juniors Liz Hannson (Back/Free), Stephanie Conklin (Breast) and Auburn transfer Josefin Wede (Breast/Individual Medley), along with sophomores Erin Frye (Back), Alicia Berman (Free/Fly), and Bailey Laban (Free) are at the top of the list to play pivotal roles for the Bearcats.
"Liz is a very competitive and driven athlete with ambitious goals," Hopkins said. "She made the final in the 200 backstroke and set the UC record in 100 backstroke in 2009. Josefin is already establishing herself as a leader in practice. She is upbeat, focused, and positive. While at Auburn in 2007, she made the NCAA cuts. And Stephanie made the BIG EAST Final in the 200 breaststroke, the consolation final in 100 breaststroke, and is fourth all-time at UC in both events."
"Erin made big improvements at the end of last year in backstroke," he continued. "She made the consolation final at BIG EAST and will challenge Liz in 100 back this year. Alicia is one of the sprinters who will be counted on to fill in the loss of de Jong and Gilby. Bailey also had an outstanding BIG EAST meet and could also fill the de Jong/Gilby void."
The women have a few senior divers who have the potential to have outstanding years as well: "Kirtley Krombholz is a consistent performer, possibly best on three meter," Hopkins said. "She made the consolation final at the BIG EAST despite being sick at the meet. And Brittany Teneyck has frequent flashes of excellence. She is best on the one meter and just missed the top-right at BIG EAST last year. Both Kirtley and Brittany, if they have outstanding years, have the possibility of qualifying for the NCAA Championships."
As for the large incoming freshmen group, Hopkins is taking a wait-and-see approach: "We will have a better idea where they will contribute after the first couple of meets," he said. "I'd expect several of them, from both the men's and women's sides, to make immediate impacts as part of the dual meet line-up. The focus is on the end of the year and it is hoped that the competition and depth will pay off with more people scoring at the BIG EAST meet than ever before."
Unfortunately, Hopkins had to see another valuable member of his team depart. Assistant coach and former Bearcat swimmer, Randi Vogel took advantage of an opportunity to coach at Missouri this year.
"We will miss her," Hopkins said. "But, she wants to be a head coach someday and it will be better for her resume if she has more experience than just at the University of Cincinnati."
Taking Vogel's place on the staff will be Mandy DiSalle, who comes to UC from Toledo and will be a welcome addition, says Hopkins.
"We couldn't be more excited to have her. She comes from outside the program and that's good. With that she will certainly ask questions and make us think why we do things. It's a win-win situation. She is going to be an excellent addition to the team."