Author: Ryan Whalen
Both the men’s and women’s Occidental swimming teams will jump into the pool for their first meet of the year next Saturday at the Redlands Pentathlon.
“We have to look at the Redlands Pentathlon for
what it is,” head coach Shea Manning said. “It’s our first meet; it’s not scored…It is really just a way to ease into the competition season and
get racing opportunities under our belt.”
For the second straight season, the team does not return a large amount of upperclassmen. This year’s roster does not contain a single senior and only six juniors.
Even though the Tigers do not have an abundance of tenured veteran swimmers, reigning 200-yard breaststroke national champion Steven van Deventer (junior) is expected to take on a leadership role among his teammates. He was the primary points leader for the Tigers in almost every meet last season and single-handedly secured 23rd place for Occidental at the NCAA Championship meet.
The black and orange will also turn to Alexander Najarian (sophomore) to help lead the team throughout the season. Najarian had a breakout rookie year, making it all the way to the NCAA Championships in both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events.
The men’s swim team is young and largely unproven but the unit’s aspirations remain high.
“There’s just so many great performances across the board at practices that it’s really hard to say who is and who isn’t going to have a breakout year because I feel that everyone is setting themselves up to have an excellent year,” Manning said.
The women’s side finished in fourth place two years ago (just one point behind Redlands) and captured the third-place spot last year after owning the dual meet tiebreaker against the Bulldogs. However, with key returning seniors Caroline Chang and Jessica Robson, the Tigers are poised to make an even bigger splash this year.
Chang was named the SCIAC Female Swimmer of the Year last season, winning the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events and coming in second place in the 200-yard individual medley. Robson, one of two Occidental female divers, secured her third consecutive SCIAC title and remained undefeated in SCIAC competition for the second straight year. With her final season about to begin, Robson wants to continue her unbeaten streak.
“My personal goal this season is to remain undefeated in SCIAC competition,” she said.
Although Chang and Robson have garnered most of the spotlight, the women’s squad has a great deal of depth.
All-SCIAC swimmer Juliet Suess (senior) is returning to compete in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events, while 500-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley finalist Lizzy Kosin (sophomore) will be looking to play a larger role this year.
“This season, I want to achieve lifetime bests in all of my SCIAC races,” Kosin said. “As for team goals, we want to strive to do well within the SCIAC competition.”
Both teams travel to Redlands next Saturday for the Redlands Pentathlon.
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