STORRS, Conn. (October 4, 2008) - It is often felt that in athletics following up on a great year is always hard. If this is true then the 2008-09 edition of the University of Connecticut women’s swimming and diving season should be difficult.
The 2007-08 Huskies set a total of 13 team records last year, had a fifth place showing at the BIG EAST Championship, won the Terrapin Cup and have several NCAA “B” cut times. Individually, Courtney Haney qualified for the NCAA Championship in two events and Allison Coleman was named the BIG EAST Diver of the Year for the second time in her career.
“ I have always believed that the measure of anyone’s success is not a once in a lifetime thing but a summation of success over time – in our case a history of success and improvement that follows a straight line path of lifetime improvement that never tails off,” said UConn head coach Bob Goldberg.
The proof of that philosophy is the performance of so many UConn upperclassman over the years, including last year.
“For example, when Jordan Zarin as a senior was able to step up and set a school record in the 100 fly and score so well in the 200 fly at the conference meet with her lifetime best time, it is gratifying and exciting to see that what we do really works,” says Goldberg.
Although a very good senior class has graduated in ‘08 including school record holders Zarin, Haney, Sarah Kearns and Emily Karel among a class of eleven senior women swimmers and divers and an outstanding diver in Coleman, the cupboard is not bare.
Goldberg feels the current senior class, while not as big as last year’s, is full talent through and through.
Senior Lisa Shelps (Quakertown, Pa.) has five individual school records and can add to that list. Classmate Kate DeVinney (Avondale, Ariz.) has the 200 yard fly record and has come off successful surgery to strengthen her knees and will finally be at full strength.
Audrey Prior (Lutz, Fla.) has improved every year and is a force in the backstroke and mid distance freestyle and Cassie Peterson (White Fish Bay, Wisc.) has a beautiful and very competitive fly and backstroke as well as a quickly improving mid-distance freestyle.
Kristalynn Kempton (Glen Head, N.Y.) has made an incredible turn around from her nagging back problems to swim her best times last year and should improve with a full season of training. Erin McLaughlin (Woodbridge, Conn.), who was elected one of the captains, will be looked to for leadership in the sprint events and backstroke, as well as in and out of the pool. The inspirational leader of the group is Brittany Frank (Bedford, N.H.).
The senior class on the diving side is comprised of All-BIG EAST performer Liza Marianni (Cherry Hill, N.J.).
The junior and sophomore classes are smaller but certainly no less talented. They will clearly be led by redshirt senior Danielle Sanders (Mississauga, Ont.), who sat out last season after surgery.
“Danielle is one of the most talented swimmers we have ever had at UConn and with healthy shoulders she can become a conference force,” says Goldberg.
Also returning from a redshirt season will be Katie Tice (Aberdeen, N.J.), a very solid flier who battled ear problem all last year but is now healthy and ready to train. A lot will be needed and expected from Samantha O’Donnell (Cheshire, Conn.). A talented sprinter, she will be looked on the step into Karel’s shoes as the leader in the sprint lane.
Rounding out this class is Rachel Harrison (Holliston, Mass.) and Molly McGroarty (Lynnwood, N.J.). Harrison is a solid distance performer and the always improving. McGroarty is one who can swim just about anywhere and most events comfortably at the BIG EAST Conference level.
The sophomores are led by Kate Baust (Reistertown, Md.), who had incredible time drops in both her breaststroke events last year and Sophie Staskiewicz (Riverdale, N.Y.), a talented sprint and mid distance freestyler and flier.
Added to this group are Colleen Bower (Cumberland, R.I.), a solid addition in the distance freestyle, Lauren Grant (Mansfield, Conn.) a sprinter and breaststroker with a big upside and Carlyn Lungmus (Sarasota, Fla.), who finished her first season with some great swims in the free and backstroke while tying the 100 backstroke record of former UConn standout and NCAA qualifier Ryan Smith.
Keristen Raccio (Oxford, Conn.) and Jess Horvancik (Valatie, N.Y.) are talented divers who will shine in their events with a great deal expected from the talented Horvancik.
UConn is optimistic about the freshman class that joins the program this year.
“This group is diverse, talented, varied, and interesting,” says Goldberg. “They cover all the events, they represent an incredible geographic distribution and have an amazing level of talent.”
Erin DeVinney (Avondale, Ariz.), Katie’s sister, swims fly and distance freestyle while Ali Aserlind (Coral Gables, Fla.) swims distance freestyle. There are outstanding breaststrokers in Caitlin Gallagher (Lawrence, Kansas), Anna Drinka (San Antonio, Texas), who also swims breaststroke and sprint free, and breaststroker/flier Chelsea Peitz (Fenton, Mich.). Freestyle sprinter Samantha Cisneros (Garden Grove, Calif.) is an upcoming talent as is Suzannah Glaeser (Fredricksburg, Va.), who is terrific in the strokes, as is Hannah Kelly (West Hartford, Conn). Sprinter Ye Ling (Lake Worth, Fla.) is a native of China while flier Marta Kot (Ostroleka, Poland) both look for an outstanding careers as does transfer Emily Luchansky from Connecticut (Shelton, Conn.)
The newcomers on the diving sides are Kelly McCauley (Cortland Manner, N.Y.) and Caroline DiMarco (Weston, Conn.).
“Not only are the freshmen diverse, multi-cultural and good people, but they can swim fast,” says Goldberg. “This is a lethal group that could set some new and very tough standards for the Huskies of the future.”
“Our team goals are really quite simple” says the UConn coach of 20 years. “We want to train hard, be consistent and focus on being ready to swim fast when the bright lights come on. We will train through all our in-season meets with a focus on the championships, and when the conference meet starts on we want to be the best that UConn can be!”