UMBC Men's Swimming Outlook
The UMBC men's swimming and diving team has exemplified dominance in the ECAC for the past six years, capturing first place in the conference championship every year during that time span.
In the past two years alone, under the direction of Head Coach Chad Cradock, the Retriever men have gone 20-4, including a 9-3 performance in the 2002-03 season. In addition, last season's men's team posted strong performances in important meets, as they took first place in both the George Mason Invitational and Northeast Conference Invitational.
This year, UMBC looks to extend that dominance in their new conference, as they begin their inaugural year season in the America East.
"We're excited as we enter the America East and we look forward to our first league win," said Cradock. "We have a lot of strong returnees and freshmen who will help us achieve our goal."
With the loss of six letter-winners, including graduating seniors Karl Strauss, David Landgren, Ron Park, and Ben Erb, this season's newcomers will need to step up. "We will definitely miss last year's seniors," said Cradock. "I'm looking for several people to fill their shoes, especially in the breaststroke events, but I am confident that we will have the talent to do it."
This year's seniors will also be a tremendous factor, as all of them have previously qualified for the ECAC Championships. The men will be led by co-captains Brad Green and Nicolas Lombo, both of whom were true competitors and great leaders in their past three years at UMBC.
Sprints - Once again, the Retrievers will be led by senior Brad Green, who captured gold in both the 50 and 100 freestyle at last year's ECAC Championships. A part of three previous relay teams that currently hold school records, Green anchored last season's 400 free relay team that captured first at the ECAC's. This year, he will be helped by junior Brian Pashigian and newcomer Tim Conway.
Mid Free - Senior Carlos Canepa returns to lead UMBC in this event. In 2003, Canepa won the 500 free at the George Mason Invitational, and captured bronze in the same event at the ECAC's. The Retrievers also look forward to contributions by junior Sean Ogden, and freshmen Ryan Karrer, John Saums, Zach Schmalzer, and Cliff Schmardel.
Distance Free - Canepa, who has ranked first in his native country of Peru in the 1500 free since 2000, will be counted on to generate points for the Retrievers in the distance events. Karrer, who was voted team MVP as a senior at Mainland Regional High School, will support Canepa, along with Schmardel.
Butterfly - The current UMBC record-holder in the 200 fly, sophomore Geza Szabo returns to power the Retrievers in this event. He will be helped by senior Josh Farley, as well as by newcomers Karrer, Schmalzer, and Saums.
Breast - UMBC has plenty of options in the breaststroke events with the return of seniors Farley and Jon Armitage, juniors Jayme Soulliere and Aaron Schenker, and sophomore Ian Carey. Armitage, who won bronze in the 100 breast at the NEC Invitational, will guide the Retrievers, while also receiving contributions from newcomers Evan Swann and Patrick Woodward.
Back- Veteran senior Nicolas Lombo and returning junior Jakub Sroczynski will lead UMBC in the backstroke events. Lombo took bronze in the 100 back at the NEC's, while Sroczynski captured gold in the 200 back, and was subsequently recognized as the meet's Co-Outstanding Male Swimmer. Sophomore Joseph Raymond and freshman Brian Jaeggi will also add to the Retriever attack.
Individual Medley - Sophomore Adam Blais, who stepped up with a great performance during his rookie year will be counted to step up once more in this year's IM events. Alongside him will be the veterans Farley, Sroczynski, Soulliere, and Ogden, while Jaeggi should also provide ample support.
Diving - Senior Jon Gdowik, a truly consistent diver, will return to help the Retrievers in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Last season, Gdowik placed fifth in the 1-meter and sixth in the 3-meter dive at the ECAC's. This year, senior Lakin Jones will also add points on the boards for UMBC.
UMBC Women's Swimming Outlook
After capturing their second straight NEC Championship title, and fourth in the last five years, the UMBC women's swimming and diving team has created high expectations for each upcoming season. This season will be no different as the Retrievers have raised the bar and will meet stiff competition with their inaugural season in the America East Conference. The Retrievers got a glimpse of their new league at last years' ECAC Championships as four AEC schools competed at the meet.
"Last year at the ECAC's, we had some outstanding performances, but as a team we were not as solid as we would have liked," said Head Coach Chad Cradock.
Entering his third season with the Retrievers, Cradock seems to have no doubt in his mind that this season will be just as successful for the women, if not more. Although the stakes were just raised for the Retrievers, a talented recruiting class along with the return of all but three letterwinners has Cradock excited about the upcoming season.
"It will be the best women's team that UMBC has ever seen," said Cradock. "I just don't see any defining holes in the women's team this year."
His confidence stems from the fact that this year's women's swimming and diving team has secured each event and are completely solid from their sprinters to their divers. This will also be the largest women's team that UMBC has seen, with a total of 22 women who will all contribute greatly to the team as a whole.
Sprints - A well-rounded swimmer and freshman standout, Agnieszka Stanislawska will help the Retrievers dominate in the sprints. Before her UMBC swimming career began, Stanislawska made appearances in the Polish Championships and in the European Championships where she was one of the top finishers.
Elyse Gibson, a sophomore, will also be very dangerous in the sprints. Gibson was a part of last year's gold medal 400 medley relay team at the ECAC's. In addition, senior Laura Chang, sophomore Stephanie Alexander, freshman Kristen Moorby, and junior Casey Connor will also add to this event.
Mid Free - Senior-co captains Katrin Harrsen and Amanda Otis will help anchor this event as they proved themselves successful last season. Harrsen picked up first place in the 200 against Towson last year, while Otis took first place in the 500 against Baltimore rival, Johns Hopkins. Connor and Gibson will also be very supportive in these events to the give the mid free a firm outlook. Freshman newcomers Sarah Shewcraft and Stanislawska will also be looked upon to score in the mid free events.
Distance Free - Taking first in the NEC's 1650 free last year, returnee junior Jessica Prosen will once again be the team's top distance competitor. Prosen had a number of strong finishes last year including taking first place against the competitive East Carolina in the 1000 free with a time of 10:35.89. Seniors Amanda Otis and Astrid Sperling will both contribute to the distance events.
Butterfly - The upperclassmen will be taking control of the fly as senior Holly Wittsack, who took first place in the 100 at last year's NEC's, will be joined by Prosen, who also stepped up in last year's ECAC's and will continue her surge in this event. Experience continues with juniors Elizabeth Maldin, and Leslie Sturdevant, as both will provide strength in the fly. Also, freshman Amy Mensch has a positive outlook and will be a great addition.
Breast - As the reigning NEC champion in the 100 breast and qualifier for the 2002 NCAA's, Lindsey Prather is anticipated to have a successful junior year and lead the breast along with teammate Laura Chang. Chang, a senior had proven herself a strong competitor in last year's NEC's, as she took second in the 100 breast and will be expected to step up again this year. Prosen who followed right behind her two teammates, took third in the NEC's 100 breast and will impact this event as well. Junior Cara Linehan and freshman Jesse Rowton will be excellent additions.
Back - A veteran and champion of the ECAC's and the NEC's back in 2003, Sperling will continue to excel in the backstroke. She clinched the 100 back with a record-breaking 58.10 and secured the 200 back while surpassing her own record of 2:03.29 in last year's NEC's. Amber Harris, chosen Women's Rookie of the Meet at last year's NEC's, as well as Stanislawska, will also be competing in the back to help support and contribute great strength, giving the back great depth and a wining combination.
Individual Medley - Committed and persistent, the UMBC Retrievers will continue to look to their top veterans as Sperling and Prather will lead the medley squad, with a supporting cast that includes Otis, Maldin, Sturdevant, and Stanislawska.
Diving - The boards have sprung two freshmen this season, Katie Spohnholz, from Alaska, and Elizabeth Rubin, who will team up with upperclassman Peggy Preston. Preston placed runner up in both the 1-m and 3-m diving events in last years NEC's.