Western Courier

Swimming and diving prep for long season

By Tom Loftus

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By the time the “fall” swimming and diving season ends for Western Illinois, students on the Macomb campus will be already counting down the days until the first day of spring, and making plans for semester-break getaways to locates like Panama City, Cancun and the Bahamas.

The Leathernecks’ men’s and women’s teams kick off their 2011 season on Friday, Oct. 6 at the St. Louis University Meet, and they won’t stop competing until they complete all events at the Summit League Championships in Rochester, Mich. next Feb. 15-18.

For Western coach Greg Naumann, however, it’s not how fast you run during the race, it’s where you end up at the finish.

“Our sport is nice in the fact that we’re not the win-loss column,” said Naumann, a former Leatherneck swimmer who is beginning his third season as Western head coach. “We go against some incredibly tough teams as we go throughout the school year, and having that win-loss column doesn’t do anything for us.

“We’re about the times, and really about that ranking at the end of the year, as we finish up our conference meets. If we get somebody to nationals, that would be awesome, but usually for us the main focus is really getting the fastest and the best of them at (the) conference (meet) in February.

“The biggest thing is what kind of results we have at the end of the year.”

Last season, both the men’s and women’s teams finished seventh at the Summit League conference meet. Oakland University captured the league titles in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

“There are certain benchmark meets throughout the year, and you get certain times at those, and as then you reflect year-to-year, you’re able to see, hey, I was able to hit this time in the middle of the season, and this is what I want at the end of the year. So, knowing what those benchmarks are for them makes them feel a lot better as they go through (the season).”

For Western’s men’s team, returning veterans include senior Brandon Wilkinson (freestyle/breaststroke); juniors Matt Stiefel (diving), Bart Pienkowski (free/breast), Jack Killheffer (backstroke/free) and Josh Davis (breast/IM); and sophomores Jonathan Bond (free/back/fly) and Connor Peters (fly/breast/IM).

For the women’s team, seniors Jessica Schnaiter (back/IM), Shawn Fitzpatrick (free/back) and Jamie Grau (breast/IM), juniors Rebecca Hallenbeck (fly/IM/free) and Allison Calewarts (back/free), and sophomores Brianna Eizenga (free/IM), Colleen Kanies (back), Haley Brasile (free/fly) and Julie Rasmussen (free/fly/diving) are the returning competitors that Naumann will be counting on this season.

Nine freshmen will get their feet wet with the Leathernecks’ men’s team this fall, including Christopher Allen (free/fly; Bloomington, Ill.); Kevin Arakaki (back/IM; Waianae, Hawaii); Jeremy Grogg (free; Bloomington, Ill.); Yale Heady (free; Allen Park, Mich.); Tyler Neaveill (free; Germantown Hills, Ill.); Patrick Oliver (diving; Elmhurst, Ill.); Jacob Shain (fly/IM; Olathe, Kan.); Sam Vissers (free; Oak Creek, Wis); and Pawel Wierzchowiec (breast; River Grove, Ill.)

For the women, newcomers include Mary Betsworth (free; Davenport, Iowa); Taylor Miller (fly; Chicago, Ill.); and Jessica Mroczek (free/IM; Oak Forest, Ill.).

“It was incredibly satisfying to see us bring in that size of a (men’s freshmen recruiting) class,” Naumann said. “We can, as a coaching staff, really focus on our women’s program, recruiting-wise, for next year.”


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Swimming and diving prep for long season