Coming off of a state championship season, the Bombers take to the pool with high expectations and their sights set on a repeat.
The Blue and Gold have dominated in the pool for the past two years, taking home three state championships between the men’s and women’s teams and tauting several All-Americans and state champions. This year they look to build on that success and win states once again.
The men’s team is always looking forward, despite losing seniors who tallied more than 200 points at the state meet, as well as two school record holders. Graduate student Derek Rand, graduate student Antoine Connors, James Sica ’12, graduate student Tyler Kenton and Jeff Rapp ’12 have left the team.
The Blue and Gold also may suffer a non-conventional loss that could hurt their chances of repeating; senior Chris Caldwell could miss the season because of an internship opportunity. Head Coach Kevin Markwardt said this would be the hardest loss, because it was unpredictable.
“We could cover the freshman coming in,” Markwardt said. “They are kind of equal to the graduating seniors, but he was supposed be one of the top three scorers.”
Even though losing Caldwell isn’t ideal, Markwardt said, his team is deep enough if people step up.
“We have people in his events,” Markwardt said. “There won’t be any gaping holes — it’s kind of a mixed bag. It’s a matter of people stepping up. The question is if they will step and become the top scorers.”
This year’s crop of freshmen, the largest in team history, has already made an impact. In the first meet of the season, freshmen Justin Barwick, Adam Zelehowsky and Addison Hebert each won an individual event against SUNY-Brockport.
In addition to the young talent, the Bombers are bringing back several key members of last year’s championship team. Senior diver and captain Martin Brown; fellow national qualifying diver sophomore Matthew Morrison; senior captains Jake Robbins and Jake Lichter; and sophomore distance swimmer Clement Towner all return for the South Hill squad for what they hope will turn out to be a solid season.
With only four losses and one tie in the past four years, the women’s team has been dominant. For this season, the team will be losing several key members and a crop of players that scored 366 points in last year’s championship, but it is returning some upper class leadership. Senior captain Carly Jones and junior diver Korie Fackler are two-time All-Americans, and sophomore Kylie Bangs, who competed at nationals during her freshman season, came in 36th place in the 100-meter breaststroke in her individual event. The returning members are also joined by top recruits: freshmen Lainey Cohen, Lauren Cox, Michelle Heidguken, Meredith Wells and Megan Zart.
The team is not being complacent about past success. Fackler said the team is eyeing another championship this season.
“We have established that goal year in and year out, and I think we have a shot at it again.” Fackler said.
Though Coach Paula Miller is thrilled her swimmers and divers have high expectations, she wants to take a wait-and-see approach until the season gets shorter.
“All our meets are preparation for the championship meet, but I don’t look forward to it — right now I am just focused on our next meet,” Miller said.
The state meet is a ways away, but the Bombers look to have two teams that can contend with the best the nation has to offer.