Oct. 18, 2002
For the 2002-03 season, Coach Cyndi Gallagher's squad returns nine NCAA qualifiers, including All-Americans senior LeAnne Cadag and juniors Kristen Lewis, Jackie Lobdell, Sara Platzer and Malin Svahnstrom. The Bruins will gain depth from a strong incoming freshman class. U.S. National Championship qualifiers Kendall Butler, Krista Daley, Shellene Catalano, Eileen Seissen and Kim Vandenberg will join the Bruins as true freshman. Other additions to the Bruin arsenal will be redshirt sophomore Lindsey Smart and junior transfer Taylor Spivey, the 2002 SEC 100 Backstroke champion.
"This season, we have a strong senior class. Our captains, Beth Boehm, Courtney Mayo, Heidi Prosser and Regan Gosnell, are prepared to lead this team," said Gallagher. "If we work together as a team, especially in our relays at NCAA's, it will make us better than we were last year."
The Bruins were successful in the sprint free events last season and look to improve upon that success this year. All-Americans Sara Platzer and Malin Svahnstrom return to lead the Bruins in the 50, 100 and 200 Free. Platzer, who earned All-America honors in both the 50 and 100 Free, is coming off of a summer shoulder surgery, but will be ready to compete in March. Svahnstrom, an All-American and the school record holder in the 200 Free, will be a top competitor in both the 100 and 200 Free.
Sophomores Jenny Hall, Jeannette Nieto and Kellin Chatfield will add depth in the sprint free events. "All three of them trained hard this summer and made a lot of stroke improvements. I'm looking forward to their sophomore year." Nieto will compete in the 200 Free and is expected to be an impact in the sprints and relays, as will Hall. Chatfield will compete in anything from the 50 to 500 Free. "Kellin is still new to swimming, but is much improved from last season."
Newcomers to watch will be Alexis Unaphum, Lindsey Smart and Kim Vandenberg. "Vandenberg, who was one of the top high school recruits in the nation, will have a huge impact on both the sprints and relays."
Lobdell, who qualified for the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year, looks to score at the NCAA Championships. Miller, the second fastest swimmer in the 1650 Free, also aims for improvement.
Seniors Beth Boehm and Courtney Mayo and juniors Krissy Tinney and Lindsay Wolf will provide depth in the middle and distance Free. "We have a lot of depth adn are counting on the distance lane to step up this season."
Newcomer Liz Keating, who improved rapidly during her senior year of high school, will round out the middle and distance Free.
This season, the Bruins will look to junior transfer Taylor Spivey to lead the way in the Backstroke. Spivey, the 2002 SEC champion in the 100 Back and an All-American, will provide a great deal of experience from the conference and national championship level. "Taylor comes in with talent and will make an immediate impact."
Senior LeAnne Cadag and junior Naoko Watanabe, who were the Bruins' fastest backstrokers last season, will strengthen the event. Spivey, Cadag and Watanabe will be closely followed by Smart, senior Stacy Kearney and sophomores Tamara Bal and Kim Scarborough.
"We're coming off of a great season in the breaststroke," said Gallagher. "We qualified four breaststrokers for the NCAA's last year."
Leading the Bruins will be juniors Cathy Coler in the 200 Breast and Leslie Hovsepian in the 100 Breast. Junior Brooke Winkler, who was a NCAA qualifier in 2001, is expected to return to form and strengthen the breaststroke events. Sophomore Taylor Dahl, who had a great freshman year, is expected to build upon last year's performances. Senior Sarah Clark will also add depth in this event.
The newcomers to watch in the Breaststroke are Eileen Seissen in the 100 Breast and Shellene Catalano in the 200 Breast, who were both national qualifiers. Other newcomers to look out for are Megan Ferguson and Luisa Los-Santos, who are ready to step up and perform well.
"We've had a great history of flyers since Olympian Annette Salmeen." Following in that tradition is junior Kristen Lewis. A former walk-on, Lewis qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 Fly, earning All-America honors in the 200 Fly. This year, Lewis will lead the Bruins in the Fly.
Melissa Miller, who just missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships last season, is expected to improve upon her performances last season. Seniors Starr Airey and Clark, junior Chelsea Murray and sophomore Lindsey Buck.
"We have three exciting newcomers, Kim Vandenberg, Kendall Butler and Krista Daley, who are all national qualifiers and could be players at the NCAA Championships."
Malin Svahnstrom returns after a stellar season, having earned All-America honors and setting the school record at 1:59.89 in the 200 IM. In the 400 IM, Kearney and Winkler will be the leaders. Hovsepian, who qualified for the NCAA Championships last season, and Murray will provide depth in the individual medley. Newcomers Catalano and Los-Santos round out the individual medley.
"We're counting on the relays this season. The relays are something that we're focusing on this year and pride in our relays is key to our success at the NCAA Championships."
In the freestyle relays, the Bruins have a large pool of athletes to choose from "We have five to six solid swimmers in the Free. We can only take four, so it will be a battle for positions on the relays. But more competition in practice and meets will make our team better."
In the medley relays there is also a large pool of athletes from which to choose. "We have more than one good swimmer for each event. We can be very flexible and interchange our relays easily."
"I expect that we will have three top relays at the NCAA Championships this season."
Coach Tom Stebbins returns the core of his squad for the 2002-03 season. The Bruins are coming off of an impressive season, in which all members of the team qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships. Stebbins looks for his squad to not only build upon last year's success, but to improve upon it. "For the first time in my tenure, we have really good, strong, senior leadership: both athletically and academically. Heidi, Regan and Jenny are great role models for the younger kids. With a freshman class as large as we have, much of our success will be determined by how this group leads and is led."
On one-meter springboard, senior Heidi Prosser will once again be the Bruin favorite. Prosser enters this season after an impressive junior campaign, having qualified for the NCAA Championships on one- and three-meter. "One-meter is Heidi's show. It's her game. She struggled a little last year with injury, but spent the summer doing lots of rehab, and she looks great right now. If Heidi stays healthy, I think that we'll be sensational as the year goes on, especially in March."
Following Prosser will be fellow senior Regan Gosnell. Gosnell returns from a very good summer of training and competition. Regan placed sixth on platform at the Senior Zone D Championships and 12th on platform at the U.S. National Championships. "Regan was really good at the end of the summer. It will be interesting to see how she parlays all the summer training and success into NCAA success this year. I think that she is certainly one of the most talented kids I've ever had the pleasure to coach. If we can get her zoned into March, I think that she is as tough as anyone out there. I will look to Regan to lead the team on platform throughout the year."
Senior Jennifer McNally also returns after a solid junior campaign. "She had a good summer, especially training-wise. She has been a lot of fun to coach and I've learned a lot of things from her. She can be great on one-meter and platform, and I hope that the three-meter event will come around a little bit more this year than it has in the past. She makes us very deep on one-meter and platform."
Janine Strack enters her sophomore season after an impressive summer. Strack, as a first time qualifier to the U.S. Senior National Championships, placed 18th on platform and sixth on platform at the Junior Nationals. "Janine had a great summer on platform. She's working on lists that will compete with anybody out there and could be a huge threat to people at the end of the year. This could be her breakout season."
Joining the Bruin squad will be a freshman class filled with Junior and Senior National qualifiers. "We have a large freshman class and are excited about all of them. The class potential is huge. It is probably the most athletic group I've ever seen."
Freshman Paige Thompson enters after an impressive summer, competing at the Junior and Senior Nationals. Thompson will compete primarily on the one- and three-meter springboards. "Paige has an entry divers kill for. Having been to senior nationals, gives her an edge in terms of what to expect at the NCAA level. I believe Paige will be very exciting to watch at the end of the year."
Amanda Blong, who also had an impressive summer at the Junior Nationals, will primarily focus on one- and three-meter. "Amanda is a great athlete, loaded with potential. There is a rhythm to diving Amanda hasn't totally clued into yet, but she has already made great strides in these first few weeks. Amanda is still fairly new to diving year round, so I expect her to make great progress this year."
Sara Clark, who also competed at Junior Nationals, will focus on three-meter and platform. "Sara is the strongest of all the freshmen in terms of pure power and strength. And, she may be the quickest speed-wise. Her development over the year is going to be great and she is certainly going to be a threat, within the conference, on three-meter and, possibly, on platform. I'm looking for great things from her. She's been very impressive in the early goings."
Carly Banks, who qualified for Senior Nationals for the second consecutive year and Junior Nationals, rounds out the Bruin frosh. Banks enters as a triple threat, who will compete on one- and three-meter, as well as platform. "The only thing that may hold Carly back this year would be her nagging shoulder injury. Carly is a three-event threat, which is great to have. I always look forward to coaching those kids who can play at every level."
"I expect the entire team to qualify for the conference and NCAA zone meets. The greatest resource we have is our senior class. The greatest obstacle we have will be our lack of experience. The tone will be set by the seniors, and our success as a group will be determined by how they lead the younger classmen.
"One of the team goals is to score more points in the diving events than any other school at the conference meet. As long as this group continues to work hard, it is certainly a possibility. It would be great to put as many points up on the board to give swimming as much breathing room as possible.
"As long as we stay healthy, we are a very tough group. This group will be very exciting to watch."