Swimming and Diving Look to Make Waves in 2010-11
BY DEREK AMRICH
Oct. 14, 2010
Set your mark for Oct. 15 when the CSU men and women’s Swimming and Diving teams open their season at home in the Robert F. Busbey Natatorium. For Director of Competitive Aquatics, Wally Morton, this season marks his 30th year coaching at CSU, and fourth season of double-duty with the men and women’s programs. The easy-going Morton and his staff draw a hard line when it comes to this responsibility.
“We’re teaching a pattern that will lead to excellence for the rest of their life,” said Morton. His staff includes assistant coaches Andrew Hancock and April Woo, and diving coach Rich Karban. “That’s our only purpose,” said Morton. “Our only real purpose is to prepare them for life.”
The pattern to which Morton refers to is the hard work the student athletes put in to achieve the accomplishments of the program leading into this season.
“We get up at five in the morning, we do our first workout and we come back and do a second workout later in the day,” said Morton.
Two-a-days are usually reserved for short-term training to prepare for the season.
“We do this almost every day, and we do this for almost six months,” said Morton.
The women and men’s teams have one thing in common this season: Both squads are the largest in CSU’s history, and extremely young. The women feature 10 incoming freshmen and the men bolster the roster with 12. The comparisons, however, end there.
“Each team has its own personality and dynamic, just as each individual has its own personality and dynamic,” said Morton.
The 2009-10 women’s swimming and diving team shattered the previous mark of 10 wins by capturing 14 victories. The team also earned the national distinction of All-Academic team for their performance in competition and in the classroom. It’s a title Morton wears with pride.
“We have upped our grade point average from slightly below a three to well above a three,” said Morton.
Morton expects much of the same looking forward to this year’s team.
“This is the most disciplined, hardest-working, most accomplished both in the classroom and in the pool, of any women’s swimming and diving team we’ve ever had at CSU,” says Morton.
The loss of accomplished swimmer and leader Brittany McCann from last year’s team signifies a changing of the guard. While Morton recognized the contributions of many women, he specified the efforts of two upper classmen.
The career of swimmer Diana Mruk, senior from Fairview, is the reflection of Morton’s pattern of success. The lone senior on the team has consistently improved her times in each stroke every year throughout each year saving her personal best in the 100 free for the Horizon League Championship (HLC) as a junior. “She’s a fantastic leader on our team,” Morton was quick to point out.
The versatile Carys Behn, from Westville, South Africa, followed a strong freshman season of wins in 25 events by posting 14 victories as a sophomore. The junior holds the school record in the individual 1000 freestyle, as well as several school records in relay events posted by the 2009-2010 women.
The 2009-10 men’s team, which finished second in last year’s HLC, suffered the loss of three swimmers including ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Teamer Stephen Grove and nationally ranked Division I All-American Jakub Dobies.
Once again, nothing changes according to Morton in regards to his expectations for this year’s squad. “Every year we expect them to win the conference championship,” says Morton. “If we’re in the hunt, then that’s what it’s all about.”
The men’s team returns two sharpshooters in pursuit of a championship. Mark deSwardt, junior swimmer from Durban, South Africa, dominated as a freshman when he was named Swimmer of the Meet, Swimmer of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year at the HLC. He followed up his stellar freshman season by posting 21 wins and setting three personal records as a sophomore. deSwardt has never lost a race in HLC competition.
Josh Gonzalez returns following his distinction of 2009-10 HLC Diver of the Meet. The junior from Brunswick transferred to CSU as a sophomore from East Carolina University. “He’s a lot better this year than he was last year,” says Morton. “He worked hard this summer and really developed his diving and it shows in practice.”