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UWRF swimming dives into a new season

October 18, 2007

Falcon swimming and diving had a new look this year with 16 incoming freshmen joining the team for their first meet at UW-Eau Claire on Oct. 13.

The meet was the co-ed relay, with three schools participating. UW-Eau Claire won the meet with a score of 84, UW-Oshkosh scored 56 and UW-River Falls scored 44.

The UWRF A team had second place finishes in the mixed 100-yard freestyle relay, the mixed 400-yard backstroke relay, the mixed 800-yard freestyle relay and the mixed 200-yard freestyle relay.

According to head coach Bill Henderson the Falcons’ strongest events this year are short freestyle on both sides and intermediates.

“[We have] good numbers in backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly,” he said.

The men’s team has six freshmen coming in: Josh Anderson, Justin Anderson, Sean Breneman, Tom Pierson, Mark Thorsen and Nico Wallat.

The women’s team has 10 newcomers, including Colorado State transfer Katie Zappa, freshman long freestyle and breaststroke swimmer Tamra Knight and freshman butterfly swimmer Roxie Pingry.

“[The] freshmen class overall is very strong,” Henderson said.

The men also have several strong swimmers returning. Henderson expects junior breaststroke and individual medley swimmer Michael Brudzinski to be a big contributor to the team this year. Last year Brudzinski consistently finished in the top spots for the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and the 200 and 400-yard individual medleys.

“We are a loaded cannon in respect to anything 200- yards or shorter,” Brudzinski said in an e-mail.

Also contributing on the men’s side include senior freestyle and butterfly swimmer Tom Fritchen, senior backstroke swimmer Mikhael Keyser and senior freestyle swimmer Jacob Moe.

The women’s team looks strong this year even with the loss of two important swimmers. Junior Danielle Mandich, who Henderson said is “always one of the best in the conference,” is in Scotland for the semester and junior Sara Cannady quit the team to concentrate on academics and try to graduate in three years.

In their absence, last year’s team MVP sophomore sprint freestyle swimmer Jill Lambach will be an important piece of the women’s team.

“I’d really like to just be a great team leader and be a good example for the freshmen,” Lambach said in an e-mail.

Other returning women include junior freestyle and backstroke swimmer Ashley Swenty, junior freestyle swimmer Rachael Westlund and senior backstroke and freestyle swimmer Tia Felts.

The team is not without problems.

“One of the things that hurts us is no diving,” Henderson said.

The Karges pool has no place to practice diving, which discourages potential diving recruits.

The men’s breaststroke could also be a weakness for the Falcons.

“The guys team was unfortunate in the incoming freshman, in the fact that we didn’t pick up a new breaststroker, and we lost one of our former ones due to student teaching,” Brudzinski said.

With the current core of returning players and a strong group of incoming freshmen, Henderson said the goal for this year’s team is to move up in the conference.

The team managed to win three meets last year, but the swimmers expect that to change for this season.

“I think we are going to surprise the conference with the amount of growth we have had since last year,”  Brudzinski said.

According to Lambach, “the team should definitely hold its own against the rest of the conference.”

The Falcons next meet is 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at UW-Oshkosh.