BALTIMORE, Md. - Head Coach Chad Cradock enters his 17th season at the helm of the Retriever swimming and diving teams, bringing continued success to the programs.
Last season, the men's squad won their third consecutive CCSA (Coastal Collegiate Sports Association) title, while the women once again won the America East crown.
Senior Emily Escobedo (New Rochelle, N.Y.) was once again was named Most Outstanding Swimmer and made her fourth trip to the NCAA, becoming the first America East swimmer to qualify and swim at the meet, while Gregor Spoerlein (Bamberg, Germany) was named CCSA Swimmer of the Year.
Cradock believes that losing both Escobedo and Spoerlein, as well as some of the other key players that had a hand in the Retrievers success these last few years, will affect the programs. But, he believes that the team will rally around their departures to make them stronger.
"I definitely think it'll have a huge impact. With the ladies, we have to figure out how to use our depth in different ways – right now our fly looks like a good strength and so does our middle distance. It's just kind of changing the program around, trying to make some of the weaknesses of the past into strengths and also develop the people who were swimming with Emily and her events, like the breaststroke, and continue to develop there.
"On the guy's side, we have a lot of strength but our sprint does hurt a little bit without Gregor. We know that our freshmen have come in and they look like a solid class and we're excited about their future," Cradock said. "Overall, I think losing a senior class is hard because we're a program of developing athletes. So everyone is well developed and then you bring in freshmen and have to start to develop them again."
Seton Hall Meet Info:
What: UMBC Retrievers at Seton Hall Pirates
Where: South Orange, N.J. – Arthur E. Imperatore Natatorium
When: Friday, October 6 – 3:30 p.m.
Live Stream: Here
Social Media: @UMBCAthletics, @AmericaEast, #AESD
The 2017-18 Slate:
The Retrievers opened the 2017-18 season with an exhibition meet against Bucknell on September 30. The first scored meet of the year will be at Seton Hall on October 6, followed by the first home meet of the year on Friday, Oct. 13 against Navy with the kick-off brunch on Saturday, October 14.
UMBC closes out the month of October with a meet at Towson on October 21 before heading to Old Dominion on November 4, just one of two meets in the month. The Retrievers will once again travel to George Mason for the Mason Invitational November 16-18.
The teams will close out the regular season with back-to-back home tri-meets, beginning with Howard and America East foe Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 6. The final meet of the season comes on Saturday, Jan. 20 as the Retrievers welcome East Carolina and America East newcomer VMI on Senior/Alumni Day.
Both teams will head to the America East Championships at WPI in Worcester, Mass. on Feb. 15-18. The women will look to win their fourth-straight title, while the men will try to win their 12th America East title and their first since the 2012-13 season.
"This year's schedule will set us up well for the end of the season and we are all looking forward to it!" Cradock said.
While the UMBC program loses some key competitors in Escobedo and Spoerlein, Cradock does return a core group of swimmers who he believes will help to mold the team.
"I think our returners play a huge role, on both the men and the women's side. Our expectation is that they take the leadership of the team and help mold our freshman in the program," Cradock said. "But we also are going rely on our freshman right away. They add to our depth and we need them to come in and grow quickly and contribute to the program."
On the men's side, captains Philip Adejumo (Elkridge, Md./Howard), Nikola Trajkovic (Zrenjanin, Serbia), and Alexander Gliese (Columbia, Md./Long Reach) along with Ilia Rattsev (Moscow, Russia) all return after helping UMBC earn their third straight CCSA title.
The women will look to the leadership of captains Carly Waters (Crownsville, Md./Archbishop Spalding), Allison Atkinson (Arnold, Md./Archbishop Spalding), and Natalie Davis (Austin, Texas) as well as well a junior Hania Moro (New Cairo, Egypt) and sophomore Haylee Committee (Ellicott City, Md./Howard), who all had a hand in helping the Retrievers win their third straight America East crown.
"We bring back some national champions in their home countries, the Danish national record holder on the men's side, the Egyptian national record holder on the ladies side, and there's a lot of great, positive strengths within our program," Cradock said.
Bring In The Pups
This year, Cradock brings in 11 fresh faces to the squad with seven on the men's side and four on the women's side.
The men will welcome freshmen Tyler Ai (Pasadena, Md./The Excelsior Academy), Jack Carlisle (Cape Town, South Africa/Rondebosch Boys High School), Jeremy Gates (Escondido, Calif./Escondido Charter), Jonah Pennington (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood), Kai Wisner (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill), and Jackson Wolter (Clarksville, Md./Atholton). Seton Hall transfer Tre Fisella (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield/Seton Hall) also joins the team).
The women welcome Marylanders Abigail Farmer (Crofton, Md./South River) and Isabel Rayner (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill), as well as Vanessa Esposito (Montreal, Quebec, Canada/Trafalgar School for Girls) and Natalija Marin (Belgrade, Serbia/XVI High School of Belgrade).
"Looking at our program, the future is bright and we're excited. We'll use each meet as a training meet to get us to the championships," Cradock said of his incoming swimmers.
Looking Ahead to 2017-18
Through the tough practices, numerous meets, and the challenges the teams might face, Cradock wants his team to have a good time while swimming and to grow while they are honing their craft.
"The number one goal is that we have fun. I know that sounds weird, but if we have fun, we can be more competitive and we enjoy what we're doing more so we want them to have fun," Cradock said. "As I mentioned early, I would like them to grow – grow as people first and then grow as athletes second. If we continue to grow, we should have a great outcome.
Cradock knows that if at the end of the day the team can come together and bond, they will be able to have a successful year and be able to reach the end of the season with a more unified feeling.
"I'm looking forward to getting know our athletes better, especially our newcomers. I'm also looking forward to an exciting end, as we always have," Cradock said. "We start off getting to know each other, then we start to get stronger as a core, then it's like an explosion because we're so excited and we're ready to go. I'm excited to see that growth through the whole season of the team together."