In 2004, the Retriever men's swimming and diving team extended their dominance into the America East Conference as they celebrated a successful inaugural year in their new league, finishing at 12-1, while capturing UMBC's first ever America East crown in any sport.
This year, they look to claim their eighth straight conference title, after dominating the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) from 1998-2003 before making the move last season.
The team, however, will have to overcome the challenges brought on by the loss of six standouts who graduated last spring.
"We lost many strong individuals," said Head Coach Chad Cradock. "This year, we have brought in 14 men, which makes for a really young squad, but I feel that they have increased our depth tremendously. We are definitely not as top-heavy as we have been in the past, but hopefully the newcomers can gain experience throughout the year, and be ready for the championships in February."
For the first time in the program's history, Cradock will receive help on-deck from three assistant coaches. Returning for his third year will be Tom Himes, who assists in all facets of the program. He will work alongside Chris Gibeau, who returns to UMBC after coaching at the Monocacy Aquatic Club, while Bates College standout Andrew Hastings will enter his first year as the diving coach.
"We're only as good as we are with each other," said Cradock about his staff. "I think we make each other stronger and better, and hopefully, it will reflect on the athletes to make them more successful."
Sprints - UMBC lost America East Swimmer of the Meet Brad Green in the sprint events, but Cradock looks for sophomore Tim Conway, senior Sean Ogden, and freshman Dominic Lee to step up and gather points.
Mid Free - Senior Jakub Sroczynski will continue to lead the Retrievers. He will be helped by junior tri-captains Adam Blais and Geza Szabo, and veterans Ogden and Joseph Raymond. UMBC has a lot of depth in these events, as they look to receive assistance from sophomores John Saums, Cliff Schmardel, Evan Swann and Patrick Woodward, as well as from newcomers Adam Eiben, Alejandro Lopez, Joey Sementelli, Colin Weick, Karn Yisomruay, and Nebojsa Zimonjic.
Distance Free - The Retrievers graduated Carlos Canepa, but sophomore Ryan Karrer has the ability to fill his shoes. Swann and Schmardel, who have come a long way since their rookie season, also look to contribute, as well as Raymond, Saums, Eiben, and Sementelli.
Butterfly - Szabo, the school record-holder in the 200 butterfly will once again lead UMBC in these events. This year, however, the Retriever squad features a lot of depth as they look to receive contributions from Saums and freshmen Zack Hurd and Eric Skrabacz.
Breast - This is another stroke in which the Retrievers have generated much depth through their recruiting squad. Veteran Ian Carey will lead the team in these events, but will receive assistance fom Yisomruay, Lee, and Woodward. Senior Aaron Schenker, who did not compete last season, has trained well and is ready to contribute this year. In addition, the Retrievers will also be helped by freshmen Scott Auchter and Andrew Cheung.
Back - The Retrievers graduated Nicolas Lombo, but return Sroczynski, who has generated numerous points for UMBC in these events for the past few years. He will be helped by sophomore tri-captain Brian Jaeggi, as well as Yisomruay, Lopez, Raymond, Skrabacz, Weick, and Zimonjic.
Individual Medley - UMBC will have several options in these events, led by Blais, who has become more aggressive and competitive with each year, as well as Sroczynski and Ogden. The Retrievers will look for more consistency from Jaeggi this season, and will expect help from Yisomruay, Cheung, Lee, Skrabacz, and Woodward.
Diving - The Retrievers lost school record-holder Jon Gdowik, but bring back the experience of senior Lakin Jones. This season, he will compete along with Jeff Salgado, a transfer student from St. Bonaventure, and freshman Tim Ward, a local product from Mount St. Joseph’s. They will also be helped by sophomore Mark Moylan.
The UMBC Women’s Swimming & Diving team capped off their first year in the competitive America East Conference with a 12-1 record and a second-place finish in the league championship.
With the loss of several dependable swimmers, such as Amanda Otis, and record-holders Astrid Sperling and Holly Wittsack, the Retrievers feature a very young and inexperienced team for 2004-05.
“We have brought in 22 newcomers on the men’s and women’s side combined,” said Head Coach Chad Cradock. “Whenever you do that, it takes a while to get things going. But this new team brings in a very bright future, and I expect them to grow more aggressive and become stronger throughout the year.”
Once again, the Retriever women will be focused on getting the win at every dual meet, and will look to compete against the strong Northeastern and New Hampshire programs during the America East Championship.
“Both teams have a lot of potential and I'm looking forward to the end of the season to see the results of all their hard work,” said Assistant Coach Chris Gibeau. “I can’t wait for February when the league championship comes to UMBC, and we can really showcase the results of our efforts throughout the year.”
Sprints - The Retrievers will return junior Elyse Gibson, who has led the UMBC women in these events for the past two years. This season, she will be assisted by senior Casey Connor and sophomores Kristen Moorby and Britta Nelson. Newcomers Lindsey Engler and Carly Fitzpatrick will also provide great depth for individual events as well as relays.
Mid Free - UMBC will have numerous options here, beginning with sophomore Agnes Stanislawska, the 2004 America East Swimmer of the Meet. She will be helped by Connor, Gibson, senior Jessica Prosen, tri-captains Leslie Addadi, Amber Harris, and Cara Linehan, and sophomore Jesse Rowton. In addition, the Retrievers will receive contributions from newcomers Katrina Hubbard, Rachel Lesslie, Erin Mathews, and Lisa Robinson.
Distance Free - Lesslie, an aggressive swimmer, and Hubbard, an extremely hard worker will lead the Retrievers in these events. Cradock will also look to the veteran Connor, and newcomers Mathews and Robinson to generate points.
Butterfly - UMBC graduated Holly Wittsack, but Prosen and senior Elizabeth Maldin will be among the returners expected to pace the team in these events. Freshman Mary Scott is expected to make contributions, as well as classmates Engler and Hubbard, and sophomore Amy Mensch.
Breast - Senior Lindsey Prather, the school record-holder in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, returns for her fourth year to lead the Retrievers in these events. Prosen, who can be counted on to help in several ways, will also provide assistance, as will the very competitive Linehan. In addition, the team may receive help from Rowton.
Back - The Retriever women lost standout Astrid Sperling, but should receive ample help from Stanislawska and Harris. Furthermore, UMBC has other options in Addadi, Fitzpatrick, Lesslie, Maldin, and Scott.
Individual Medley - Cradock has several strong veterans who are capable of competing in these events, including Prather, Stanislawska, Prosen, and Addadi.
Diving - The Retrievers only have one female diver on this year’s squad, as Katie Spohnholz returns for her second season. The fifth place finisher at the America East Championship, Spohnholz is an impressive and excellent diver, who has the capability of shattering school records during her tenure at UMBC.