UMBC Men's Swimming Outlook
With the men having won their fifth consecutive ECAC Championship, and the women bringing the Northeast Conference title back to UMBC in 2002, what can be expected of the Retriever swimming and diving team for the upcoming season?
According to head coach Chad Cradock, this year's 45 swimmers mark the largest squad in school history. "I really believe that it's probably one of the strongest teams that UMBC has ever seen," said the coach.
En route to setting a school-record eleven wins last year, the men's team upset Navy for the first time in UMBC's history, and captured their third straight NEC Invitational title, outscoring their closest competitor, 926-446. To close out the season, the Retriever men also won first place at the ECAC Championship with a total score of 670.50, besting the closest opponent by 250 points.
This season, however, the Retrievers will have to continue that amazing run despite losing two of UMBC's best swimmers in Evan Patrick and Mehdi Addadi. Still, Cradock is confident that the 24 men who comprise this year's team will uphold the Retriever winning tradition. "We've brought in so many strong people who I know can contribute to creating more depth in our program," said the head coach.
With the loss of last season's most decorated swimmers, the entire team now has to step up and rise to the occasion. "I foresee that the captains, Karl Strauss and David Landgren will take that leadership role, as well as Josh Farley and Jakub Sroczynski," said Cradock.
Sprints- Although the Retrievers lost the talent of Evan Patrick and Olympian Mehdi Addadi, the team hopes to remain a power in this event with contributions from veterans Brad Green, Ben Erb, and Bryan Pashigian. In addition, they will be well supported by newcomers Adam Blais and Greg Foster.
Mid-Free- As the reigning ECAC champion in the 500 free, Carlos Canepa returns to lead UMBC in middle distance freestyle. He will receive help from seniors Ron Park and Christian Disque, as well as freshmen Blais, Sean Ogden, and Jamie Todes. Although Green started off the year with a broken hand, Coach Cradock expects him to make a full recovery to help carry the load in this event. The coach also looks to veterans Josh Farley and Nicolas Lombo to add quality depth to the middle distance freestyle events.
Distance Free- Once again, Cradock will rely on his upperclassmen, Canepa, Disque, and Farley, to lead the Retrievers. Last year, Farley captured first place in the 1000 free versus Navy and George Mason, and also in the 1650 free against Towson. Newcomers Ogden and Todes will also contribute in distance events.
Butterfly- Senior co-captain David Landgren and junior Ramon James will pace the Retrievers in this event. Last year, James captured first in the 100 fly against Howard and Towson, while Landgren won the 200 fly against George Mason. Newcomer Geza Szabo, who broke his cheekbone in three spots at the beginning of the season, is expected to recover and make contributions as well.
Breast- Senior co-captain Karl Strauss remains as one of UMBC's best swimmers in the breaststroke, and will be supported by Landgren and junior Jon Armitage. Sophomores Aaron Schenker and Jayme Soulliere, and newcomer Ian Carey will also add to the Retrievers' depth.
Back- Poland native Jakub Sroczynski comes to UMBC this season to power the Retrievers in the backstroke. A transfer from Central Connecticut State, Sroczynski is the reigning ECAC champion in the 200 back. Lombo, one of UMBC's stronger swimmers in the backstroke will also contribute this year, along with Canepa, James, sophomore Andrew Clegg, and freshman Joseph Raymond.
IM- With 24 men on this year's team, UMBC will have the depth needed to win IM events. Leading the Retrievers will be veterans Landgren, Farley, Strauss, Soulliere and Armitage, while newcomers Carey, Clegg, Sroczynski, and Todes provide support.
Diving- Jon Gdowik will be the lone male diver on this year's squad. In 2002, he captured second place in the Northeast Conference Invitational with a final score of 198.25 in the 1-meter dive.
UMBC Women's Swimming Outlook
After securing the 2002 Northeast Conference title, having its first NCAA qualifier in 13 years, and ending the season with a winning record, the UMBC women's swim team now has a high reputation to uphold. Since the Retriever women had ended the preceding four seasons below .500, and in addition, lost the 2001 NEC Championship, Coach Cradock was pleased with the 7-6 performance of last year's team.
Still, Cradock aims for further improvement. "I want our ladies to have a much stronger, much more competitive record," said the coach. "They are more than capable of becoming one of the best swimming teams we've ever had."
Although UMBC lost Megan Lochte, Cradock is assured that the new talents of Amber Harris, Elyse Gibson, and Sara Gifford will propel the Retrievers to another great season. In this year's 21-member roster, the coach expects leadership from captains Amanda Otis and Megan Schaeffer, as well as consistency from the reliable swimmers, Katrin Harrsen, Astrid Sperling, and Lindsey Prather.
Sprints- The younger members of the Retriever squad are expected to step up in the sprints, including sophomore Casey Connor, and highly-recruited freshman Elyse Gibson.
Mid Free- Once again, Connor and Gibson are expected to contribute, in addition to co-captains Amanda Otis and Megan Schaeffer, juniors Katrin Harrsen and Holly Wittsack, and sophomores Melissa Osborn and Jessica Prosen.
Distance Free- Harrsen and Otis give the Retrievers a strong one-two combination in the distance events, as Harrsen captured first place in the 1650 free against Towson and Otis placed third in the NEC's in the same event. Coach Cradock also looks to Schaeffer and Osborn to provide support in the distance races.
Butterfly- UMBC will exhibit the team's depth as five different Retrievers are looked upon to contribute in the fly events. Wittsack, who won first in the 100 fly versus Virginia Tech and Towson, will pace the team, and Otis, senior Andrea Schaefer, and sophomores Elizabeth Maldin, and Leslie Sturdevant will provide support.
Breast- 2002 NCAA Qualifier Lindsey Prather will lead the team in the breaststroke events. As the reigning ECAC champion in the 200 breast and NEC champion in both the 100 and 200 breast, the sophomore is expected to have another successful year. Junior Laura Chang, sophomores Prosen and Cara Linehan, and newcomer Stephanie Alexander are also expected to contribute.
Back- Retriever standout Astrid Sperling will be looked upon to continue her success in this event. In addition to winning the gold in the 200 back at the NEC's, Sperling also claimed first place in both the 100 and 200 back against Richmond, Navy, and George Mason. Sophomores Maldin and Stephanie Disque, and freshman Amber Harris will compete alongside Sperling in the backstroke.
IM- Coach Cradock will look to the very dependable team of Prather, Sperling, and Prosen for the individual medley, while Chang and Sturdevant are also expected to make an impact.
Diving- With the addition of Sara Gifford to Peggy Preston and Kristen Cevoli, the women's diving team is expected to gain much success on the boards this year. In last season's NEC Championship, Preston won the gold medal in the 3-meter with a final score of 207.16, while placing second to then-teammate Liz Corbin in the 1-meter.