NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's and women's swimming & diving teams are aiming to become ONE team during the 2019-20 season.
Last season, the NU men won their second-straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship (GNAC), while the women finished in fourth place. At the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Championships, the Cadet men placed fourth with the women claiming 15th.
On the men's side, the Cadets return 12 athletes from last season while bringing in 12 newcomers. The women's squad returns 10 from 2018-19 with 12 newcomers joining the fold. Of the returners, five earned All-GNAC accolades last season for the Cadets.
NU also welcomes two new faces to the coaching side of the swim & dive family as Jennifer Cournoyer was named Head Coach in May and Chris Delmas '98 was hired over the summer as the team's assistant coach.
"In my short time here at Norwich, I am beginning to feel connected to the swimmers and divers," Cournoyer said. "Collectively they are hardworking - balancing their academics, athletics, Corps activities, community service, and beyond. I greatly respect their effort and dedication."
Juniors Keely Purington (Kailua, Hawaii) and ReAnn Bowen (Marlborough, Mass.) were named team captains for the women's side, while seniors Will Micali (Brentwood, N.H.) and Harrison Brock (Alexandria, Va.) will serve as team captains for the men's squad. Junior Joseph Clark (Acworth, Ga.), senior Alex DiGiacomo (Norfolk, Mass.), sophomore Olivia Kelliher (Weymouth, Mass.) and Purington also serve as Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) leaders for the teams.
DiGiacomo broke two school records in 2019 (50 Free, 21.40 and 100 Free, 47.21) and Clark broke one (200 Back, 1:57.51), while sophomore Megan Duffy (Shelton, Conn.) broke one school record as well (1,000 Free, 11:08.26). Duffy was also named GNAC Rookie of the Week three times last season.
"I am looking forward to working with the leadership team this season," Cournoyer added. "The captains and SAAC Leaders each bring a different strength to the team and understand their part collectively in building a strong competitive team. Being new to the Norwich, I notably appreciate their guidance and desire to create a culture of ONE team amongst such a diverse group of athletes."
Purington spoke of the immediate impact of the newcomers to the program, athletes and coaches alike. "Our freshmen are amazing, they are hard-working and bring a new dynamic to the team," she said. "I am excited to see how all of them grow this year. Coach Cournoyer is organized and encouraging. She pays attention to the details and if you ask her for help or to watch your swim she is right there with her full attention. She has encouraged this team to push themselves and creates a positive atmosphere on the pool deck.
I especially like that we are working on technique, and stroke, you can always be a little smoother in the water or have a tighter streamline. Coach Delmas has also been a huge help. He is there every practice to push us to go faster and push harder. When you pop up during a hard set he's there with a thumbs up or a "yes! that was it," which during rough sets encourages you to keep going."
Micali spoke of the noticeable and positive change to the team's training, "Practices have either been very hard or very practical," he said."I feel much faster than I did last year at this point because of them."
Purington's goals for this season are clear, "My goals for the team this year are for both men and women to receive the academic honors by having a team average of at least 3.0, I am also hoping to get more of the women's team to NEISDA's this year and to place higher at GNAC's."
Cournoyer added, "For the season, I expect to witness many personal bests along with continuing to break team records."
Micali spoke of setting sights on personal best times. "My main goal for this year's team is for everyone to get personal bests," he said. "Honestly, if we all get personal bests, we will break school records and be a very strong team this year."
When asked about the growing desire for the season to get underway Micali said, "I am very excited about being in the pool. It is my last year and I'm going to do everything I can to be the best swimmer I can be for this team."
The Cadets open their season at Keene State in a tri-meet with the host Owls, as well as the Purple Knights of Saint Michael's College. That meet is set for 1:00 p.m.
Norwich will make its 2019-20 home debut on Saturday, Oct. 26, when the Cadets host Colby-Sawyer College at 1 p.m. in Goodyear Pool.