The first splash of the 2009-10 season for the men’s and women’s swim teams will happen at 7 p.m. today at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, as the squads take on Kenyon College.
For both the men and women, this year represents a big step for each of the respective programs. The men are trying to build on a highly successful season from last year and the women are trying to build a positive foundation under relatively new coaching staff.
Although Kenyon is only the first of many meets, with the entire season building up to the Big Ten Championships in February and the NCAA’s in March (both will be held at OSU this year), the swimming season is like a marathon. For the Bucks, Kenyon represents the first leg of this race.
The men take on the winningest program in the history of every Division III sport.
“It’s a great experience for them and a great experience for us when we take on our friends from Kenyon in the first meet of every year,” coach Bill Wadley said.
On the other hand, the women look for a strong start to a season that is focused on the fundamentals and rebuilding.
“This first meet is a great opportunity to gauge where we are training-wise,” coach Bill Dorenkott said.
Men’s season preview — Building from better to best
The men’s swimming team comes off its best season in 31 years after finishing second in the Big Ten and 12 in the nation, breaking almost every school record in the process.
However, Wadley is not willing to sit on the satisfaction of a good season last year. This year, he wants more.
“We want to reset every school record again… whatever (our) best times were last year, we want everyone to get a little faster,” said Wadley.
Returning 21 of 22 swimmers, as well as adding freshman phenomenon Tim Phillips, who, according to Wadley is “one of if not the fastest coming out of high school in the 100 butterfly,” it would seem like these Bucks may not need to get much faster. However, complacency is the death of success. To rise you cannot sleep.
With a swimming program which bases its foundation on “hard work, technique, and a positive attitude,” like the Buckeyes’, it’s easy to see why Wadley and the men’s team won’t let the water calm after the splashes they made last year and why their success is just something to build upon.
“We want to compete for a championship,” Wadley said.
Women’s Season Preview — Rebuilding
The story is a little bit different for the OSU women’s swimming team.
This year is not as likely to yield hopes of a Big Ten Championship and national title contention for the Bucks.
However, under the leadership of Dorenkott and his coaching staff, the women’s team plans on making strides this season.
“The program is on the rise and we’re excited about it,” Dorenkott said.
The Bucks finished eighth in the Big Ten and 25th in the NCAA’s, both of which Dorenkott called “disappointments.”
The return of 18 swimmers, seven of which are seniors, as well as a strong recruiting class of nine girls, added to the fact that this year will be Dorenkott’s second with the program, should make for improvements from last year. For Dorenkott, improvement is the key.
“We have less concrete goals than say winning the Big Ten or National Championships. … Right now we’re still very much in a building phase,” he said.
Although the Bucks have a lot to do through “fitness first and gaining strength second,” Dorenkott intends on starting to build the foundation of the program before worrying about which medals the program will win.
“There’s evolutions as a program,” Dorenkott said. “Eventually every year our goal will be to win the Big Ten and National Championships, but it’s one step at a time.”