Oct. 20, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - Over the 23 years head coach Bob Goldberg has been at the helm of the University of Connecticut women swimming and diving team, they have had a record of excellence reflected by the quality of student-athletes in the program and the quality of graduates who have come out of the program.
“I am so proud of the accomplishments of so many of our women swimmers and diver while at Connecticut and in the years after they graduate,” says Goldberg. “Someday I’d love to chronicle all that they have accomplished!”
The team opens up its 2011-12 season on Saturday when it plays host to the annual Husky Invitational. That event, which features both men's and women's teams, will feature UConn, Providence, Vermont, Fordham and Maine and begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium in Storrs.
Along with the UConn men's team, the program is recognizing the National Breast Cancer Foundation Research. They are doing a collection table in the Student Union and collecting money at the two home meets this month, the Husky Invite and the next week's Big East Quad meet. UConn will also wear specially designed shirts and pink racing caps for these events.
Leading the team this year is an outstanding group of six swimmers who have persevered over their years to become outstanding swimmers, role models and students. One of the most successful student athletes and swimmers on the team is captain and breaststroker senior Caitlin Gallagher (Lawrence, Kansas). Aiming for the UConn records and an NCAA berth is part of Gallagher’s agenda this year and she is capable of achieving both. In addition, she is in the prestigious UConn Honors Program. Senior captain Erin DeVinney (Avondale, Ariz.) is also set on breaking the butterfly records for the Huskies. This is an extremely personal goal, as Erin not only wants to swim fast, but the current 200-butterfly record is held by her sister Katie! DeVinney is in the challenging nursing major at Connecticut.
There are two swimmers in this class who have their sights set eventually on medical school. Senior Samantha Cisneros (Garden Grove, Calif.) is an accomplished sprint freestyler and IM’er and senior Ali Aserlind (Coral Gables, Fla.) is another captain and backstroker. Both Cisneros and Aserlind, along with all the seniors, are heavily involved with the team study group sessions.
Senior Ye Ling (Lake Worth, Fla.) is the current school record-holder in the 50-yard freestyle and can sprint most events. Finally, senior Chelsea Peitz (Fenton, Mich.) has had a great career at UConn, starting out as a breaststroker and now one of the team’s best butterflier. Not only is Peitz a team captain, but she has also been elected as the president of the UConn Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC), a post several swimmers have held over the years.
“We are lucky to have experience this year in our upperclassmen,” said Goldberg while speaking of the seniors and juniors. “They have the experience and the desire to excel and can lead this group of women to good things.”
Leading the way for the juniors is the school record-holder in the 1650-yard freestyle Jordan Bowen (Lake Elmo, Mich.) “Not only can Jordan race anyone in the mile, she is a sparkplug in every relay because she gives so much in a race… and she want to be the anchor of the relay to win the meet,” says Goldberg. Still searching for that perfect niche is junior Mary deMarrais (Bernardsville, N.J.). “The problem with Mary is that she can swim everything and swim it well. Her range is 100 to the mile in freestyle, both IM’s and both butterflies. My job is to find the best spot for her and commit to those events,” says Goldberg.
Junior Kate O’Leary (Brookfield, Conn.) is an emerging talent for the Huskies in breaststroke. She has chased very good breaststrokers for two years and now she is keeping up with them. Another junior breaststrokers is transfer Devin Arch (Marietta, Ga.). “Having a full season with Devin will allow us to taper her properly for the conference meet and I think that could make her very competitive,” says Goldberg. Strong freestyle is also a part of this class with Kate Dobler (Pittsford, N.Y.) and Isabelle Nat (Barrie, Ont.). “Both Kate and Bella are quality swimmers who have shown consistent excellence in the pool and both should contend for spots on the relays at year’s end,” says Goldberg. Dobler has range from the 50 to 500 and Nat centers around the 100 and 200.
McGuire Kelly (West Hartford, Conn.) is a strong distance freestyler who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and hopes to be ready by mid-year. The backstroke event is well covered by Kim Fleming (Mississauga, Ont.). Last season, Fleming broke the magic two-minute barrier in the 200-yard backstroke and hopes to challenge the UConn record this year. Nicole Frost (Norco, Calif.) is a missing link and in the process of rehabbing her injury.
The sophomores are a small but critical class. Kati Kyle (Lithia, Fla.) is a beautiful backstroker who, when combined with Fleming and Aserlind, gives UConn a great backstroke team. “Kati’s 50 back on the relay and 100 back can be really special,” says Goldberg.
Courtney Gregorian (Burlington, Ont.) has ability in both the butterfly events as well as many distances of freestyle events. As she becomes more aggressive in races, she can become a real force. Finally, Catherine Chang (Savage, Minn.) is a multi talented swimmer who can compete in the breaststroke and fly events but her best events are clearly the 200 and 400 IM’s.
The freshman group has brought some good versatility to the team. Chin Pigot (Miami, Fla.) is a native of Surinam has competed in the Pan Am and Olympic Games and brings some talent to the sprint events -- much needed for the Huskies. Holly Gallagher (Haddon Township, N.J.) comes from the rich background of the Jersey Wahoos and brings a lot of potential to the fly and mid distance events.
Hanna Perna (Hillsborough, N.J.) will be a surprise to many in the distance freestyle while Kate Munzenmaier (Lake George, N.Y.) will also surprise some as she adjusts to college swimming and competes in the free and IM events. Caryn Smith (Huntington, N.Y.) comes from a great training at LIAC and can compete in backstroke for the Huskies. Talya Van Embden (North Miami Beach, Fla.) and Sharon Scott (Shelton, Conn.) are working hard to become contributors to the Huskies.
The UConn divers are a strength of the team under the direction of head coach John Bransfield. Junior Danielle Cecco (Hicksville, N.Y.) is coming off a terrific sophomore season, where she swept the NCAA Zones with titles in the one-meter and three-meter diving and advanced to the NCAA Championship in both events. A BIG EAST finalist on both boards last year, she looks to have continued gains in boardwork and entries and should be in the hunt again down the Championships stretch. Senior Kelly McCauley (Cortland, Manor, N.Y.) looks to finish her career strong. A consolation finalist her sophomore and junior years in the BIG EAST Conference Meet, she has the potential to make the top eight this year, as well as qualify again for the NCAA Zone meet. Junior Nicole Borriello (Montgomery, N.Y.) is very excited to get back into competition with a new outlook on diving and striving to reach her potential. Confidence will be key to Borriello’s success.
The UConn women have been consistently good over the past many years, accumulating an overall team record of 150-56-3 in Goldberg’s 23 seasons and consistently have swimmers perform well at the conference level. They believe they can now climb to the top tier of the Conference standings with a true focus on the ultimate goals at the end of the year. With the coaching staff that is in place, the facilities and training devices that are available to UConn swimmers, and the challenging schedule that has been put in front of them, they are excited to begin the season and prove they are one of the best teams in the conference.