After over a month of practices, the Seattle University men's swimming team begins the 2012-13 competition season with a trip south to face Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival CSU Bakersfield this Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.
Seattle U head swimming coach Craig Nisgor believes that this year's squad has more depth than in previous seasons, giving the Redhawks a better chance to be competitive during the dual meet portion of the season. The options he has in 2012-13 are vast, and he is looking forward to putting together the best possible lineup week-to-week.
"We have a very strong team across the board," Nisgor said. "The newcomers have made us a complete package and plugged any holes that may have been in our lineup last season."
Similar to the women's team, the leadership of the captains has been crucial to the team coming together during the preseason. Seniors James Gilmore (Eugene, Ore.) and Joe Wertz (Richland, Wash.) already initiated a series of activities so that the swimmers could learn more about each other quickly.
Nisgor can turn to several people in the sprint freestyle events, led by Gilmore, Wertz, and fellow seniors Owen Bley-Male (Portland, Ore.) and Tyler Carriker (Everett, Wash.). Sophomore transfer Bart Wanot (Federal Way, Wash.) is expected to make an immediate impact within the Redhawk program, and freshman John Fulmer (Kent, Wash.) will also challenge for a position in the meet lineup.
Murray Longbotham (Mercer Island, Wash.), the school record holder in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, will lead Seattle U in the middle distance events, with support from juniors Ali Abadi (Edmonds, Wash.) and Douglas Pizac (Salt Lake City, Utah). Newcomers Nick Connors (Richland, Wash.), Damon Perry (Sammamish, Wash.), and Chris Weinert (Gresham, Ore.) will be depended on to lead the Redhawks in the distance freestyle events.
Nisgor is impressed with the depth he has in the backstroke events, starting with Wertz, the school record holder in both the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke. Juniors Kyle Komlodi (Woodinville, Wash.) and Nicolas Morrell (Bend, Ore.) will join Wanot in the battle for lineup spots, as will Fulmer and fellow freshman Andy Cunningham (Cameron Park, Calif.).
Abadi and Bley-Male are also slated to compete in the butterfly events along with Tomas Mendez-Beck (Hillsboro, Ore.), Kyle Moline (Mercer Island, Wash.), and newcomer Sam Donohue (Portland, Ore.). Chris Lynch (Mukilteo, Wash.) and Gabe Wheeler (Round Rock, Texas) will pace the squad in the breaststroke events, with help from Wertz in the 100 breaststroke and Gilmore in the 200 breaststroke.
Connors, Cunningham, Gilmore, and Wertz will be the major contributors for the Redhawks in the 200 and 400 individual medley. With a strong meet schedule, Nisgor believes that the team will be prepared for the conference championships at the end of the season.
"We need to take care of business in the MPSF. This team understands the expectations that we are now a Division I program, that this is no longer a transition. It is incredible for us to have this group of swimmers, but we intend to make sure that they perform up to their capabilities," said Nisgor.
The Seattle University swim teams will host an alumni meet at the Connolly Center Saturday, Oct. 27, at 12 p.m., followed by home contests against Simon Fraser (Nov. 10) and British Columbia (Nov. 17).