STORRS, Conn. (October 4, 2008) - One of the real strengths of the UConn swimming and diving program is that the men’s and women’s teams are so much the same.
As with the women, last year’s version of the men’s team was one that was vey successful. In addition to the four new school records, the men posted a dual meet record of 8-1, were the co-champions of the Terrapin Cup and had a fifth place finish at the BIG EAST Conference Championships.
The team graduated some key swimmers, namely mid-distance freestyler Mike Brocki, sprinter Chris Ferreira and diver Mike Clifford, along with swimmers who started at UConn as conference unknowns, but ended their career with great years and notable performances. Tod Pesses, Sean Hannan and Ryan Thompson were swimmers who were keys to the Huskies success.
Now the burden of leadership and performance will fall on the able shoulders of the team captains -- Adrian Astiz (Rockville, Md.) and JH Dasinger (Madison, Miss.). Both had breakout seasons last year with Astiz setting school records in the 200 fly and Dasinger emerging as a star in the sprint free, fly and backstroke.
“Both of these swimmers are keys to our year, with Astiz being our go to guy… the one who always comes through in any event we need him in and JH developing into an outstanding flier and, much to our surprise, a great sprint freestyler,” says UConn coach Bob Goldberg. “His impressive underwater work gives him a real edge in the 50.”
They are not the only seniors who will be instrumental however. Jules Alexandre (Wallingford, Conn.) has incredible speed and has improved his ability to finish races. He should continue to improve and team up with star Nick Conrad (Olney, Md.) and Dasinger to give UConn a great 50 team. Tyler Bradshaw (Salem, Va.) and Frisk Driscoll (Westport, Conn.) will be the distance performers and Driscoll’s expanding ability in about every stroke makes him invaluable. Ben Levine (North Granby, Conn.) is always improving his strokes and can make in impact in the backstroke and IMs this season.
The sophomores and juniors are the heart and future of this team. Freestyler Jon Wong (Toronto, Ont.) has come off a great year where he represented Jamaica at the World Short Course Championships in England. Much is also expected form Tomasz Sobek (Siemianowice Slaskie, Poland). The native of Poland has the ability to go to the NCAA Championship in the breaststroke events with last year’s experience swimming in a short course yards pool. John Hogan (Walkersville, Md.) was striking last season with his focus and performance, dropping an incredible amount of time in his 500 freestyle at the BIG EAST Conference meet to come within an eyelash of one of UConn’s oldest records.
Steve Kustra (North Huntington, Pa.) also exploded at the end of the year to power the Huskies breaststroke and IMs.
“Steve can swim anywhere and I have no doubt he will excel this year in all events,” says Goldberg.
Another real jewel of this group is backstroker Alex Davidson (Pointe-Claire, Que.), who set the UConn 200 record last year, but has an unbelievable future ahead of him in the sport.
“It is impossible to predict how fast Alex can go at the end of this season.,” says Goldberg.
Two Connecticut natives are also emerging as Bill Magin (Brookfield, Conn.) and Tim Krompinger (New Fairfield, Conn.) are rapidly developing. “Billy was fantastic last year and earned a coveted spot on our relays. It is hard to see anyone knocking him off with another year of training.”
While freshman need to prove themselves, there is a lot of reason to believe that they will be able to do so quickly. Heading the class is Oleg Murzenko (Toronto, Ont.), who should own the distance freestyle events and is a strong flier. Matt Connor (Venetia, Pa.) is a very strong stroke swimmer and has IMs that should contend at the conference meet. Another multi-event swimmer who will emerge is Mitch Dansky (Winchendon, Mass.), who comes from a very strong distance orientated program and will have a fantastic base from which to work from, and Nick Majtenyi (Catherines, Ont.) should compete well in the mid distance events. Rounding out this group is transfer Kurt Murphy (Suffield, Conn.), who can team with Astiz, Kustra and Sobek to give the Huskies a formidable breaststroke team.
The divers will be looking for a new leader with the graduation of Clifford but clearly junior Steve Ferreira (Madison, Conn.) is up to the task. A polished performer he can contend for the BIG EAST Conference championship. Improving Drew Culmo (West Islip, N.Y.) and Adam Genuario (Norwalk, Conn.) will back him up and a lot is expected from newcomer Brad Schott (Wilton, Conn.).
“This team has the potential to surpass last year’s team in performance throughout this season and make waves heading into the 2009 BIG ESAT Conference championships,” says Goldberg. “You need your team stars to step up at the conference meet and score well in order to move the team into the very top echelon of the conference. We have the stars with the experience and talent who can do that. I am excited to re-write our records once again and send some UConn swimmers to more postseason championships.”