STORRS, Conn. -
The UConn men’s and women’s swimming and diving team enters a new era for the 2017-18 season with the arrival of head coach Chris Maiello. Maiello comes to UConn after serving as the head coach at North Dakota for the past four season and brings a strong background as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Navy from 2008-13.
Maiello and his Huskies make their season debut on Friday with an exhibition meet at Yale with diving starting at 3 p.m. and swimming at 4 p.m. UConn opens the dual meet season with home meets on Friday, Oct. 20 against Central Connecticut and St. Bonaventure at 11 a.m. before taking on Fordham the next day at 1 p.m.
“Our coaching staff is pleased with the progress we have made so far this pre-season,” said Maiello. “We have come a long way in a short period of time and I think we are setting up for a great season. It’s been fun getting to know an entirely new coaching staff and, more importantly, a new team. Every day we learn something new about our athletes and team. It’s an exciting time to be a Husky.”
Maiello and his staff, which includes new assistants Tim Wise and Christa Saunders and returning veteran head diving coach John Bransfield, have carefully developed the preseason practice regime to meet the needs and goals of this year’s Husky squad.
“We set up the pre-season in such a way that we had an extended training period before our first meet,” said Maiello. “This was done by design to foster growth and development of our ever evolving team culture and to establish our training environment. The team has embraced our new direction and is ready to race.”
The women’s swimming and diving team has great leadership from three seniors – breaststroker Sammi Bassman (Austin, Texas), sprint freestyler Danielle Bordes (Alpahretta, Ga.) and diver Monica Marcello (Middletown, Conn.).
Senior distance freestyler Emma Smith (Nepean, Ontario) is also a top performer, coming off an American Athletic Conference title in the 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle and just missed qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
“We have great upper class leadership that is pushing the team to new heights on the women’s side,” said Maiello. “Our team leaders are truly leading from the front when it comes to the daily grind of training and they are to be commended for that. I can see Emma’s determination in her daily workouts and we are excited to watch her hit her goals.”
The diving side of the women’s team is very young with four conference scorers from last year either graduated or missing this season due to injury.
“The good part is that they are consciences and ready to further their conceptual understanding,” said Bransfield. “I’ve seen considerable development from them in the past four weeks since we have started practice, but we are still far from where we need to be.”
The men’s swimming and diving team is very young with only on senior on the roster in diver Daniel Kinney (Middletown, Conn.).
Sophomore Karl Bishop (Cheshire, Conn.) is returning from a stellar freshman year and had an outstanding summer where he competed well at the United States National Championship with a 15th place nationally in the 1,500-meter freestyle in a time of 15:31.96. He also recently finished fifth at the CSCAA Open Water National Championship. That finish gives him an automatic bid to the USA Swimming Open Water Championships in May.
Sophomore Will Kearsey (Wheathampstead, England) was a two-time American Athletic Conference champion last season with wins in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke and also finished third in the 200-yard IM at the AAC meet.
“We are going to need many freshman and sophomores to step up and perform at a high level for our men’s team to achieve our goals,” said Maiello. “I have confidence in what I have seen so far from the team in training. They are eager, hungry and motivated and they are a fun group to work with.”
The diving side of the men’s team is also young with two freshman and a sophomore joining Kinney.
“Dan is zone level and conference scorer diver,” said Bransfield. “With the rest, we have a lot of learning going on and we will look forward to the second part of the season to see their development.”
Said Maiello: “In the end, the goal is always to get better, day-by-day, meet-by-meet and season-by-season and I think we have a good start on that this season. Although we open with some meets here in October, our athletes have their eyes firmly planted on the third weekend in February when we travel to the AAC Championships.”
The American Athletic Conference championship takes place February 14-17 on the SMU campus in Dallas.