NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's and women's swimming and diving teams both have a strong core of returners and a solid incoming class on the pool deck this season.
The Norwich men won the inaugural Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship last season while the women placed fifth in the meet. The NU men broke three school records over the course of the season with one women's record falling.
The Cadet men return 13 from last season, while welcoming 14 newcomers. The women's side returns eight and welcomes eight as well.
"Returning last year's GNAC Rookie of the Year Joseph Clark (Acworth, Ga.) is huge for us," said NU head coach Jay Schotter. "We only graduated two athletes from the men's side and both were divers so we have a lot of key returners coming back this season. Junior Austen Greene (Herndon, Va.) is a really good backstroker for us and he returns, Cameron Ferreira (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) had some top-eight finishes last year, while Sam Carlson (Dedham, Maine) was a top-three finisher in the 500 IM at GNAC's last year also. We have a lot of good sophomores and juniors returning, Alex DiGiacomo (Norfolk, Mass.) the school record holder in the 200 fly is back as well so we bring the core of our swim team back this year. Having Elaine Dudley (North Waterboro, Maine), a multi-time GNAC champion returning is obviously big for us, senior Kylee Russell (Swanzey, N.H.) has made a really big impact on the women's team as a captain. We also are looking for junior Domonique Ector (Buffalo, N.Y.), to have a big season."
The teams began practice back on September 24th, and Coach Schotter has already noticed some great things transpiring in the pool. "The team is really forming right now. We have a lot of newcomers so they are getting their feet wet. They seem to grasp what I'm asking them for, I have been throwing a lot of difficult intervals and sets at them right from the beginning. Diving is really going well. They are learning new dives and getting acclimated back to the pool and the board."
When asked about the newcomers on his teams Schotter said, "Megan Duffy is a really good swimmer out of Connecticut. She has the chance for her name to be on our record board by the end of her four years here, if not by the end of this season. She could possibly contend for GNAC Rookie of the Year as she enters the league with times that put her in the top eight of the conference right away. Kat Babcock-Connor (Andover, Mass.) is a good support distance freestyler who has a great attitude and works hard in practice. Olivia Kelliher is another freshman who is a good backstroker and sprinter who could be eyeing our backstroke records. We have tremendous depth on the men's team this year. Gordon Suwirjo and Cameron Conley are two fliers and backstrokers who add to our depth. Sebass Lasher (Lockport, N.Y.) will be more of a distance swimmer and Nolan Hensley has really taken on the IM and breaststroke."
The teams also welcome a new assistant coach into the fold this season as JP Myers '17 returns to the hill. Myers competed in breaststroke, freestyle and diving in his four-year career at NU and was a multiple time All-GNAC honoree. Schotter has already seen the impact Myers has made on the team. "JP brings a lot of enthusiasm and tradition to the team, being a recent graduate he has a lot of pride and dedication to the program. He is adamant about seeing the team go to the next level and he is a valuable asset in terms of recruiting as well having served in the Corps of Cadets in his time here at Norwich."
Despite it being fairly early in the season, both teams have already compiled a list of goals for the upcoming campaign, "The men's goal is to repeat GNAC's, a team GPA of at least 3.0 and improving our finish at NEISDA's. Finishing outside of the top three was disappointing to us so we are focusing on getting back into the top three and even the top two again, On the women's side we would like to finish in the top three at GNAC's, with the addition of some quality divers to the team we think that is a reachable goal. We hope for some individual conference champions and potentially New England champions as well."
Schotter is very high on the depth of the teams, especially on the diving board. "We have seven divers this season, the most in several seasons at Norwich, we are really excited about the depth on the board this season."
The Cadets open their season on Saturday, October 20th at SUNY Potsdam at 1:00 p.m. This year's GNAC Championship meet has also been moved back two months and will take place from February 1st-3rd at host Simmons College.