BALTIMORE—For the first time in UMBCRetrievers.tv history, the UMBC men's and women's swimming and diving will have one of their meets broadcast live, as the Retrievers take on Rider Saturday at 2 p.m. at the UMBC Natatorium. The broadcast will feature three different camera angles, replays of close finishes and every single minute of swimming action. Also the UMBC Dawg Blog will have semi-live results from the pool deck.
The year after the UMBC men's swimming and diving team won its sixth straight America East title in February 2009, something new happened for the first time since the streak began: UMBC was not picked to repeat as champions in 2010.
But the Retrievers took it in stride, breaking five school records en route to winning the 2010 league crown with 926.5 points, just 2.5 shy of their own conference record.
UMBC returns all but two swimmers from the championship team, and with eight newcomers all looking to make their mark, the Retrievers appear ready to challenge for their eighth straight America East title and 14th straight conference crown overall.
"We ended the year on such a high note last year, swimming and diving as well as we could have imagined," said head coach Chad Cradock. "We brought in some great young talent this year, and the competition to make the championship squad will be higher than ever. The intense training should benefit us at the end of the season."
The Retrievers return their top three sprinters from a year ago, including senior Eric Jones, junior Jason Mattingly and sophomore Steve Gallagher. What Cradock likes the most about each of them is their ability to help out the team in more areas than just sprints.
"We have a diverse group of sprinters," the coach said. "In addition to the 50 and 100, Eric helped us out in the 200 free, Jason is strong in the sprint back, while Steve can be big for us in the sprint breast, so it really adds to the depth of our team."
Joining the trio in the sprint free is freshman Evan Carey, who can also help out in the mid-distance and sprint back events.
"Evan is an untapped talent and I'm excited to watch him progress in our program," Cradock said.
Jones will look to defend his gold medal in the 200 free at the conference meet and will be joined in the middle distance ranks by a very talented group of returners and newcomers. Junior Mark Garbowski, sophomore Herol Marjak, senior Keilan Freeman and junior Ben Wolbert all scored in the 200 at the 2010 America East Championship, while Garbowski swam UMBC's fastest 500 free a year ago and finished sixth in the conference.
"We have a really strong mid-distance core returning, but we're looking for them to step up and develop even more this year," Cradock said.
The group will be reinforced by two international newcomers - sophomore transfer Pierre De Waal from South Africa and freshman Johan Rohtla from Estonia - who should immediately contend for a spot in the finals in both the 200 and 500 free. Joining them to add even more depth are junior Evan Danz and freshmen Kevin Stang, Reed Neuendorf and Brian Keane.
Also in the 500, senior Mat Carson and sophomore Alex Moothart, who finished seventh and ninth at last year's AEC's, will provide support along with juniors Tim Deklau and Andrew Reid and sophomores Patrick Bryan and Dylan Kent, who Cradock thinks may have a big year.
"(Bryan and Kent) have gotten adjusted to our training regiment, and they look ready to really take off this year," he said.
The distance group looks much like it did a year ago, with Moothart, who finished fourth in the mile at the conference meet, and Carson leading the pack, which will also include Bryan,Deklau, Kent and Reid. Cradock will also look to Garbowski, who finished seventh in the mile after not competing in a distance event since the season-opening meet against Bucknell.
"Mark really came through for us last year at the conference meet after not doing a whole lot of distance training," Cradock said.
One of the greatest butterflyers in school history, senior Brad Reitz will attempt to become the fifth America East male swimmer to win an event four years in a row when he competes in the 200 fly at this year's conference meet. The school record-holder in the 200, Reitz will also look to reclaim the 100 fly, which he won as a freshman but has finished second the past two seasons.
The Retrievers lose Zach Vonder Haar, who finished sixth in the 100 fly, to graduation, but sophomore Sandy Haibel and Wolbert, who finished fourth and seventh, respectively, both return, as do senior Mitchell Donovan and sophomores Rico Bado and Preston Donovanfor both fly events.
Moothart, Stang and sophomore Mike McGee will add depth in the 200 fly, while De Waal also joins the ranks after finishing fifth in the 200 fly at the 2010 Horizon League Champinships for Cleveland State.
"This was one of our strongest strokes last year, and we look forward to continued success in the butterfly this season," Cradock said. "Brad has been training really well, but with Pierrehere, the competiveness in practice every day is high, and that should breed even more success."
The backstroke was one of UMBC's better strokes a year ago, the Retrievers have three returners from the 100 final at the 2010 conference meet in sophomore Nour Saad, Haibel and Mattingly, but have to replace the graduated Vonder Haar, who finished second. Saad also made the final in the 200 and will be joined by Carson and Freeman, who finished fifth and ninth, respectively, at last year's championships.
The backstrokers will be joined by Rohtla, who represented Estonia at the 2010 European Championships, in both events, as well as Carey in the 100.
"We have some very talented swimmers in the backstroke, and we're looking for this to become some of our stronger events," Cradock said.
The Retrievers have one of the biggest holes to fill in the breaststroke with the loss of Matt Mattingly, who graduated after claiming gold in the 100 and silver in the 200 and breaking the school record in both events at last season's AEC's.
"Losing Matt was a big loss," Cradock said, "but we're looking for John and Phillip to take a true leadership role this year."
Adding depth in the breaststroke events will be senior Kregg Deery and freshmen Patrick Husson and Jesse Lohrer. In addition, Gallagher will compete in the 100, while senior Dan Weston-Dawkes will help out in the 200.
Another strong area, Carson returns after setting the second-fastest time in the 400 IM and earning silver at the 2010 conference meet. Joining him are Weston-Dawkes, Mendenhall, Freeman and Novotny, who all scored in the 400.
In the 200, the school record holder Reitz returns, but the Retrievers will have to replace Matt Mattingly, who won the event at the 2010 AEC's. Weston-Dawkes and Marjak will look to fill the void, along with Deery, Lohrer McGee, and Reid.
The impact of first-year diving coach Petar Trifinov was felt immediately at last year's conference meet, as freshman Andrew Eckhoff claimed silver in the 3-meter and fourth in the 1-meter. With another year under his belt, Eckhoff will set his sights on two podiums and possibly a gold at this year's championship.
"We have a good core of divers and we're looking forward to seeing them continue to flourish," Cradock said.
The Retrievers kick off the 2010-11 scoring meet schedule against Rider on Oct. 16. UMBC seeks its fifth consecutive George Mason Patriot Invitational crown Nov. 19-21, and the 2011 America East Championship will be held at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Boyds, Md., Feb. 17-20.
The UMBC women's swimming and diving team placed second at the 2010 America East Championships, but came close to reclaiming the title, finishing just 84 points behind champion Boston University.
To regain the crown, the Retrievers will have to replace seven graduates, including three school record-holders. To counteract the loss of the outgoing class, head coach Chad Cradock has brought in seven newcomers with diverse swimming backgrounds.
"We lost a lot of key contributors last year," the coach said, "but we have a great incoming class who will help us in different places and events. We're going to rely heavily on them, so they have to adapt to our training regimen quickly."
The Retrievers lose Sam Maccherola, a former school record holder in the 100-yard freestyle, to graduation, but return junior Abbey McKenney, who broke the UMBC record in the 50 and 100 free and claimed gold in the 100 free at the 2010 conference meet.
"Abbey has done everything she can to become an even better swimmer," Cradock said. "She trained extremely well over the summer, including competing at Nationals in August."
McKenney will be joined by senior Erin Wohlers and junior Ashley Miller, both of whom scored in the 50 and 100 free last year, senior Danielle Cruz, who has the fifth-fastest 50 time in school history, and junior Ashley Sippel, who claims the sixth-fastest 100 time.
"Our sprinters have grown so much that we're excited to see how they perform this year," the coach said.
Three freshmen – Kali Dean, Klara Pavelkova and Erika Ronning – can provide depth in the sprints.
UMBC will have to fill the void left by Maccherola, who finished first and second in the 200 and 500 free, respectively, at last year's AEC's. Returning is McKenney, who finished third in the 200, and senior Rebecca Godwin, who claimed bronze in the 500.
Other key returners include senior Sarah Ryan, who scored in the 200, and sophomore Amy Fay, who scored in both the 200 and 500.
Sophomore transfer Claire Barron and freshmen Sarah Delvaux, Patty Hallberg, Talor Tadena, Dean and Ronning are newcomers who will look to step in and make an immediate impact.
"Our newcomers are very diverse and can swim many different strokes and events," Cradock said.
Sippel, junior Pink Kinanti and sophomores Anna Plunkett and Katie Powlen will also add depth.
Godwin, the Retrievers' leading distance swimmer, returns for her senior campaign after earning bronze in the 1,650 free at last year's conference meet in the second-fastest time in school history, but she will be pushed every day in practice by Delvaux, who claimed silver in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2009 Belgian Senior Championships.
They will be joined by Powlen and Fay, who posted the sixth- and seventh-fastest mile times in school history in their final swims of the year, as well as Kinanti and Hallberg.
"With the addition of Sarah to what Rebecca has already accomplished and how Amy and Katie swam at the end of the season, it raises our distance group to a new level," Cradock said.
In one of the strongest strokes a year ago, UMBC saw Jennifer Esposito, the school record-holder in both the 100 and 200 fly, and Lindsay Sherman, a four-time medalist in the 200, finish their collegiate careers, but also saw two younger Retrievers rise up to claim the top spots.
Senior Sarah Ryan became just the third Retriever to break the 56-second mark in the 100 fly, claiming bronze at the AEC's in addition to finishing sixth in the 200, while sophomoreTara Morrissette finished fourth in the 200 in the sixth-fastest time in school history on her way to being named the Most Outstanding Rookie at the conference meet.
"Tara was exceptional at the conference meet, and Sarah worked so hard throughout the year and it paid off at the end of the year," Cradock said.
In addition to Morrissette and Ryan, senior Gaby Johnston and juniors Kathryn Moorby andKelsey Fitzpatrick will have an impact in the 100, sophomore Jennifer Kotonias qualified for the finals in the 200 and Kinanti and Plunkett will see time in both events. Tadena will add depth to the stroke.
All four of UMBC's backstrokers from the championship squad – senior Julie Cantwell and juniors Laura Tilman, Fitzpatrick and Moorby – return, along with a trio of newcomers who could make an impact in the team.
Pavelkova comes to Baltimore after finishing seventh in the 50-meter back and ninth in the 100-meter back at the 2010 Czech Republic Winter Championships, while Dean and Hallberg will also look to make headlines.
"Our freshmen, especially Pavelkova, should end up being a real asset to our team," Cradock said.
Sophomore Elise Blaschke will also add depth after posting the sixth-fastest time in the 100 back at the Maryland Invite.
Another area where graduation hit hard was the breaststroke, where school record holder Tina Cantwell and four-time medalist Tereza Kaplanova have moved on. Johnston will look to fill the void, while sophomore transfer Barron, who scored in the breast events at the 2010 Sunbelt Conference Championships for New Orleans, will also look to make her mark.
"Claire brings a massive amount of potential and should be able to help fill Tina's shoes," Cradock said.
Julie Cantwell, Godwin and Blaschke will help provide a solid core, while Tadena should also become a force for the Retrievers in the breast events.
A year ago, Cradock said that the IM events could become one of the stronger areas for UMBC and he was certainly right. Morrissette claimed bronze in both the 200 and 400 IM, including a school record-breaking time in the 400, while Kotonias scored in both events.
"Tara and Jennifer were outstanding last year, and they have been tremendous in training so far, so we're looking for even greater success this year," the coach said.
In addition to the sophomore duo, Cantwell and Godwin made the finals of the 200 and 400, respectively. Add in Cruz in the 200 and newcomers Hallberg and Tadena, and the IM area could once again be one of UMBC's strengths.
The Retrievers return all four divers from last year, including senior Amanda Shinholser and sophomores Jacquelyn Menchaca, Victoria Monetta and Carson Taylor. Cradock looks for them to improve day-by-day, and they will do so through Shinholser's leadership.
"Amanda has been very loyal to the program," the coach said. "She works as hard as she possibly can and pushes the others to strive to be the best they can be."
The Retrievers kick off the 2010-11 scoring meet schedule against Rider on Oct. 16. UMBC seeks its third George Mason Patriot Invitational crown in four years Nov. 19-21, and the 2011 America East Championship will be held at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Boyds, Md., Feb. 17-20.