Blue Hen Swimmers and Divers Set to Take CAA Championships Head On
February 22, 2011
Photos Courtesy of UD Media Services
FAIRFAX, Va. - - It has been over a decade since either the University of Delaware men’s or women’s swimming and diving programs have brought a first place team prize back to Newark from a conference championship, but both squads seem prepared to make a run at this season’s Colonial Athletic Association Championships hosted by George Mason, starting Wednesday.
The men had one of their finer seasons in program history, reaching double-digit wins during its dual meet schedule for only the eighth time in the 82 years of existence. It is also the fourth straight season the Blue Hens recorded 10 or more dual meet wins but prior to the run, starting with the 2007-08 season, the team had not gone over the mark since 1987-88.
Head coach John Hayman, now in his 22nd season on the deck for the men, holds this team to a different standard.
“This is a strong, strong men’s team. It is probably the best I have ever had.”
The team will look to improve upon its three straight third place finishes at the CAA Championship and will look to win a conference title for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign when they were a part of the America East conference. That was the fourth straight America East championship for the team, which moved to the CAA in 2001-02.
“Ryan Roberts looks pretty good; as does Ross Buckwalter (above right)…we really have so many guys,” Hayman said while talking about individual swimmers that could possibly land a top podium position. “Our relays are going to be strong too. I think we can win one or two of those. Our divers also look good when compared to what I’ve seen this season.”
The only blemish on the men’s record came in the CAA Pod Meet on November 6-7. They fell 213.50-139.50 to UNC Wilmington, but currently sit five spots ahead of the Seahawks in the latest CollegeSwimming.com/CSCAA Mid-Major Division I Poll. Delaware moved up two spots to 16 while UNCW fell four spots to 21.
The Seahawks will be looking for their 10th straight CAA Championship over the four-day event, but according to Hayman, the rest of the pack is beginning to catch up.
“UNCW certainly has the speed and depth,” Hayman said while talking about the top tier of the league that could come away with the title. “Old Dominion has the speed but not quite the depth as us. (George) Mason will be up there as well, but I think it will come down to UNCW, Old Dominion and us. After looking at the rankings and the stats, there could be only a 20-point difference on the men’s side. And when you are scoring 600 points, that’s pretty significant.”
The women will also try to break a title streak, as the Towson women will be vying for their fourth straight CAA title this week. The Blue Hen women finished seventh a season ago at the Championships and are in position to finish better than fifth, something they have not done at this meet since 2002-03.
The Blue Hen women won back-to-back conference titles in 1995-96 and 1996-97, and are looking to get back to the podium since a second place finish in 2000-01. The first year of the back-to-back championships was when they were a member of the North Atlantic Conference and they won the next year as the conference was renamed America East.
“On the women’s side, we are going to have a better meet than last year,” said Hayman. “We still have some people that are beat up, sick and injured, but I feel we will finish better than we did last year.”
The Blue Hens finished 8-6 overall with a 4-5 mark in the CAA. They opened up their conference dual meet season with a bang, defeating George Mason and James Madison rather handily. Their other CAA victories came over Drexel and a second tally against George Mason at the CAA Pod Meet. They also received a slim three-point setback to Northeastern that would have swung their record north of .500.
The mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen bode well for the Blue Hens, as Hayman has always believed that they have the speed at the top to compete with anyone.
“Cortney Barry (at left), Donna Healy, Meghan Barber, Stephanie Dodd all have a chance this week at the top,” Hayman said about his upperclassmen who have competed at a high level all season. “Courtney Raw, certainly in the backstroke, has a real good chance. Hannah Facchine has a broken wrist but we hope that’s not going to hold her back too much.”
Facchine, a sophomore who has shown great promise in the breaststroke events, broke her hand in December, but competed in the team’s last dual meet on January 29.
The Blue Hens lost a pair to heavily favored Towson, 223.5-129.5 and 200-100 this season. The Tigers are poised for another championship run.
“Towson, hands down,” declared Hayman when talking about this week’s opposition. “It will be interesting after this year with the graduating class that’s leaving (Towson). The seniors score a lot of points so it could become more of an even playing field once they are gone.”
He continued, “UNCW and James Madison have an outside chance. But I think its far and away Towson at the top spot.” Events start on Wednesday and the divers position themselves for early points in the team standings.
The women will start the competition with the three-meter diving preliminaries and consolations at 12 noon. The finals will take place at 6 p.m. The swimming trials open on 10 a.m. on Thursday, starting with the 500-yard freestyle event.Back To Women's Swimming Home Women's Swimming Story Archive