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Despite setbacks, swim team stays afloat

October 23, 2009

Bill Henderson is beginning his eighth season as the UWRF swimming and diving team head coach, and he says he is looking forward to a strong 2009 season.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the strongest men’s team we’ve had in quite a while compete,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces, men and women, on the team, and I’m also looking forward to seeing them race.”

Henderson said the biggest difference for the team this season is the loss of the swimming pool on campus. The team is now practicing at the River Falls High School every morning and evening.

“It’s a big change from the Karges pool, which is very small,” Henderson said. “This new situation is providing us with more space, so we can do a lot more things in training with that space.”

Graduation, end of eligibility and overwhelming academic loads were all reasons for the loss of swimmers this season. Three of the four members on the last year’s women’s record-setting 400-free-relay team are gone: Danielle Mandich, Katie Zappa and Jill Lambach.

The men’s team lost Mike Brudzinski and Dave Johnson. Both swimmers with captains last year, and Henderson said it will be quite different without the two.

Although his teams lost quite a few key athletes, Henderson said he is anticipating good things from an “outstanding freshman class.”

Hannah Wiseman joins the team with some very fast distance freestyle times, and Henderson expects Anna Dragich to contribute in the sprint freestyle and backstroke.

“In addition, Sarah Koch is a very versatile swimmer,” Henderson said. “She’ll help in the individual medley.” Henderson said Ray Carlos will be a big contributor in the individual medley and mid-distance freestyles, and Kevin O’Brien is one of the strongest in butterfly the team has ever had.

“Mars Delgado, Dan Ehrenberg and Alex Matz will give us depth, too,” Henderson added. “Especially in the sprint freestyles and breaststroke.” When previewing the season, Henderson said the team will face Eau Claire in the only dual meet of the season.

“Eau Claire is by far the strongest team we will face,” he said. “They always have a big team, and that means depth.”

The team will have its first home meet against Lawrence on Nov. 1, and Henderson said he’s excited about it. “We always seem to have a good meet against the Vikings.” Henderson said the Falcon Invite on Dec. 4 and 5 will be the big emphasis for the team throughout the first half of the season.