Swimming & Diving Teams Set to Start Seasons Tuesday at St. Bonaventure
Oct. 12, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's and women's swimming & diving teams are set to open the 2009-10 season on Tuesday in a dual meet at St. Bonaventure. The Nittany Lions travel to Olean, N.Y. to face the Bonnies, as both teams come into the season with high expectations.
The meet, which will kick off at Noon with the diving competition on Tuesday at the Reilly Center, is the first competition of 2009 for Penn State. On the other hand, the Bonnies will be competing in their second meet of the year, having taken part in the Western New York Invitational at Buffalo, N.Y.
MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING PREVIEW
The 2009-10 men's swimming and diving team looks to improve upon its finishes of seventh in the Big Ten Championships and 32nd at the NCAA Championships a year ago. Second-year Head coach John Hargis will rely on a key blend of youth and experience to propel the Nittany Lions to high standings in the ever-competitive Big Ten Conference.
Senior Basil Kaaki (Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia), who made his first NCAA Championship appearance last year in two relays, the 200 and 400 free relays, respectively, will head a decorated senior corps. Backing up Kaaki is fellow senior Dan Fimbianti (Mahwah, N.J.), who looks strong entering his final season in Happy Valley, having swum to 18th and 29th in the 200m and 100m backstrokes at the U.S. Championships this summer.
Sophomore Brian Alden (Lansdale, Pa.) competed in four NCAA events a year ago, looking to team up with Kaaki and provide a formidable duo in the pool, especially in the relays.
Sophomore Mitch Scherer (Pottstown, Pa.) also provides immense firepower in the breaststroke after an impressive summer that saw the breaststroke specialist finish 24th at U.S. Nationals in the 100m breast event.
On the leadership front, senior captains John Austin (Kennett Square, Pa.) and Max Ettore (Medford, N.J.) will lead a team that has scored in the past two NCAA Championships, finishing 23rd in 2008 and 32nd in 2009, while having the Nittany Lions ranked 22nd in the final CSCAA Division I poll.
Other key upperclassmen looking to take the Nittany Lions to new heights this year will be seniors Jon Cochrane (Boalsburg, Pa.), Mike Kaiserian (Radnor, Pa.), Colin Quirk (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Ben Ryan (State College, Pa.).
The juniors at Hargis' disposal will be IM specialists James Capparell (Bridgewater, N.J.), Matt Cox (Radnor, Pa.) and Josh Wakeley (Egg Harbor, N.J.), while Jack Zierenberg (Allison Park, Pa.) rounds out the contingent in the freestyle events.
Penn State welcomes a large and talented freshman class to Happy Valley, which provide depth and great experience from the high school and club level. Altogether, five of the nine freshmen will compete in multiple disciplines throughout various distances.
Dustin Folio (Selinsgrove, Pa.) will take part in the free and backstroke events, while Greg Daniele (Middletown, N.J.) will participate in the butterfly events and Jeff Gomez (Morristown, N.J.) the backstroke. Ted Walker (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Joseph Zanellato (Fairfax, Va.) will cover the freestyle events, Walker specializing in the sprint variety.
Sophomore Nick McLain (York, Pa.) returns to the fold under the tutelage of diving coach Craig Brown for the 2009-10 season. Joining McLain will be newcomer Alex Marchinski (Shillington, Pa.) to round out the diving contingent this year.
WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING PREVIEW
With the 2009-10 season comes high expectations for the Penn State women's swimming and diving team. Despite losing a number of standout performers, the Nittany Lions return the talent to have another strong season in search of their first Big Ten Title since 2006.
Atop the list of returners are seniors Kailey Morris (Baltimore, Md.) and Michelle Myers (Boalsburg Pa.), who have both earned Honorable Mention All-American in their careers. Morris' success has come primarily in the butterfly while Myers has been versatile in swimming the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. Her honorable mention honors have both come in relays.
Also returning are senior captains Lindsey DeForrest (Wycombe, Pa.) and Lyndsey Smith (Westminster, Md.). Like Myers, DeForrest is another relay specialist, who is primed for an outstanding senior season.
The other captain, Smith, is a two-time NCAA Qualifier, doing so as a freshman and junior. In her first collegiate season, she was a Big Ten Champion in the 100 breaststroke and competed at NCAA's. Last year, she competed in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 200 IM at the NCAA level.
On the other end of the spectrum, the freshman class is one that Hargis knows can make an impact from day one.
"We lost a big class last year but we've got a very, very good freshman class," he said, "possibly the best freshman female class Penn State swimming has ever had."
One of the top recruits in the country, Amy Modglin (Ft. Myers, Fla.) could realistically score in three or more events while freshman Merritt Krawczyk (Houston, Texas) and numerous others should be strong as well.
The diving team features youth as the "elder statesmen" are juniors Megan Marco (Lebanon, Pa.) and Ilana Zeises (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.). They look to lead a group that also includes a sophomore and two freshmen.
"We're looking to build upon what the previous teams have developed," Hargis said. "Penn State women's swimming has a great history. One thing I tell the team is that we're trying to make a tradition here. We've got an excellent senior class that provides such a foundation for our freshman, sophomores and juniors to emulate."
The goals of the team are always the same, to win a Big Ten Championship, something that has eluded it the past three seasons. For that to happen, Hargis will need some inexperienced swimmers to come up big.
With the veteran leadership of the seniors coupled with youthful enthusiasm, the pieces are in place to make 2009-10 a memorable one. Hargis knows that no matter what happens in the pool, continuing the great tradition of Penn State swimming is an important goal for the season.
"The senior class is one of the best classes to come through the program." He said. "It will be a class that leads by example. They're very good in the classroom. They provide a model of what a Penn State student-athlete should be and should become - excellent swimmers and excellent students."
For complete coverage of all the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving this season, go to Women's Swimming & Diving.
For complete coverage of all the Nittany Lion men's swimming & diving this season, go to Men's Swimming & Diving.