(Preview story by Josie Gingold, Athletic Communications Intern)
KINGSTON, R.I. - The Norwich University's men's and women's swimming & diving team will be headed to the University of Rhode Island this weekend to compete in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships (NEISDA).
Last year the men's team placed third out of the 12 teams and the women placed 20th out of 22 teams.
"This is the best team we've had since I've been here," said head coach Andrew Bretscher, who has coached the Norwich team for three years.
Both teams have had a strong season this year; the women's team won their first dual meet since 2008 against Babson College. They also finished third at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship (GNAC), the highest they have placed since 2000.
The men's team posted their best dual meet record in several years, and won the GNAC championship meet for their sixth consecutive year.
This year the entire Norwich men's team has qualified for New England's, as well as seven from the women's team.
The women's team hopes to finish in the top half of schools at NEISDA and break several school records. "I think our point total will be much higher at New England's than it has been in the past and we will be much more competitive," says coach Bretscher who is confident in the women's team.
One swimmer to pay attention to at NEISDAs is freshman Elaine Dudley (North Waterboro, Maine) who has broken five school records this season, and is looking to race for the top spot in several of her events. Dudley has won six GNAC Rookie of the Week awards this season.
The men's team is also looking to break school records at New England's. This year's team has a strong group of freshmen who have helped contribute to the team's success, including Alex DiGiacomo (Norfolk, Mass.), the top freshman swimmer on the team, who is looking to do well in the 100-yard butterfly at the upcoming meet.
The men's team has a large senior class competing at this year's championship meet including Everett Howard (Santa Clarita, Calif.) who holds the school's 200 backstroke record and is hoping to break again this weekend.
The Cadets also return senior Mark Walleshauser (Marietta, Ga.), who was the first NU swimmer to win Male Swimmer of the Meet accolades last season at NEISDAs after he broke four individual school records and three relay-team school records.
The competition starts Thursday night and will go until Sunday.