Published on November 19th, 2012 | by Kristen Fazio0
Diving In: Flyer Swim Teams Hope that Full Roster Will Pay Off
Kristen Fazio, Contributor
The Lewis University men’s and women’s swim teams have a new look this season, and they are eager to show that they have improved from last year.
Second-year head coach Roger Karns along with assistant coach Steve O’Leary brought in their first recruiting class this season. The team added 14 swimmers, which brings the roster that was just 23 a year ago to 35 this season. The depth of the team will be a key component in getting the team to where they want to be.
“We want to see our best finish we’ve ever had in the GLIAC,” Karns said. “We also want to qualify some men and some women in the NCAA Division II finals in Birmingham, Ala., in March. We’ve got our sights set pretty high and they have made some challenging individual goals for themselves.”
The Flyers only have five seniors returning (two on the men’s team and three on the women’s team). Kyle Kummer and Catie Reese are two of those seniors, and similar to Karns, they are excited about the prospect of having so many new faces around.
“This is the first time since I have been at Lewis that we have had a full roster, so that is extremely exciting,” Reese said. “The increase in numbers has definitely sparked some friendly competition in practices which has pushed everyone to levels that we couldn’t reach last year.”
“Having a big recruiting year is going to be a key component to improve from where we were last year,” Kummer said. “In addition to our higher numbers, I believe that this is the most talented group of swimmers Lewis has ever seen.”
The team has a good mix of ages with 12 upperclassman and 23 underclassman. When it comes to expectations, they have set the bar very high for themselves.
“My expectations for this season are to not only see a lot of school records broken and having a better winning percentage than last year, but to have a much more successful conference meet,” Kummer said. “I hope to see a group of us qualify for the NCAA Division II Championship meet.”
Their hard work and training this offseason, along with the large recruiting class, seems to already be paying off.
“We are already leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at this time last year, which puts my expectations high for this season,” Reese said. “For the first time since I have been here, everyone is actually fighting for their spot in events rather than being guaranteed one, which is pushing everyone to train harder, therefore bettering the entire team.”
The Flyers have already started the season off strong by defeating Illinois Tech Nov. 3. The women took down the Scarlet Hawks 186-38, while the men won 182-86.
The team is led by senior All-American Brandon Drogemuller, who is currently ranked No.1 in the nation for Division II in the 1,000 yard freestyle. Leadership is extremely important with a young team, and the seniors are doing their best to guide the freshmen in the right direction.
“I think it is very important; as a senior you must help your freshmen develop and make the transition from a high school program to a collegiate program,” Kummer said.
Reese is referred to as “Momma Catie” by the team because she tends to be a motherly figure on the pool deck.
“As a captain, I feel responsible to help everyone, especially the freshmen, adjust to the life as a college student,” Reese said.
Coach Karns will not only be relying on his seniors to help the freshmen assimilate to their new roles, but also expects that later down the road, the freshmen themselves will be able to contribute in a huge way.
“We expect these guys by the end of the season to step right in and aggressively race and grab some big points for us and solidify our relays, which is a big part of the team aspect in swimming,” Karns said.
The swim team took down Lincoln College Nov. 9. The men’s team defeated Lincoln 122-92, and the women’s team also won 151-58. On Nov. 10, the team also swam past Valparaiso University. The women won 162-91, and the men defeated the Crusaders 170-88.
The Flyers will now prepare for their next meet Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Carthage College Invite in Kenosha, Wis., and continue their climb toward the top of the GLIAC.
Reese is confident the team will not only do well this year, but also in the future.
“I see great things to come not only this year, but in years to come as well,” Reese said.