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Video: Swimming and diving 2013 intro

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The Lancaster Aquatics Center has had a new energy about it since May, when Lars Jorgensen took over as the UK swimming and diving program's first new head coach in 22 years.

The UK swimmers, divers and staff members have had plenty to buzz about, and they haven't even had a home meet yet. That all changes on Friday at 5 p.m. ET when the Wildcats will host Ohio State in a dual meet, which will be the team's second competition of the season.

"We're looking forward to Ohio State on Friday," Jorgensen said. "We have a chance to be at home, which is a huge advantage for us. I think both the women and the men are going to be very competitive against Ohio State. We look forward to hearing the fans come out to support the Wildcats on Friday."

The Wildcats will without doubt be up for their first home meet of the 2013-14 campaign, but they will also be hoping some of their excitement rubs off on the Big Blue Nation.

The die-hard swimming and diving fans in the Lexington community always turn up to support the Wildcats at their few home meets. Yet those who don't keep the sport on their radar all the time, especially in Olympic years, could also be in store for a good time at the first of UK's two home meets this season.

Jorgensen and his staff have taken it upon themselves to create a more fan-friendly atmosphere starting on Friday.

The meet will begin the way many sporting events in Kentucky do: with a UK marching band member playing the "Call to the Post." In support of Breast Cancer Awareness the team will be wearing pink swim caps, and all fans who wear pink to the meet will be entered into a raffle to win a prize.

Still, Jorgensen and the rest of UK's swimming and diving program have no illusions. The fact remains that the greatest excitement at any athletics event comes from the competition, and the more competitive the meet is the more entertaining it is.

To that end UK will have a solid nucleus of returning stars with four athletes who qualified for the 2013 NCAA Championships. Chief among them will be senior diver Greg Ferrucci, who became the first ever UK diver to earn First-Team All-America honors on the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform during the same season in 2013.  

"Greg Ferrucci is our superstar diver," Jorgensen said. "He was UK Athlete of the Year at the CATSPY Awards among all sports, which is phenomenal. Every time he competes in a dual meet setting he gives the team a great chance to take two of the 16 events. That's a big help."

Ferrucci is off to a great start to his senior season, having won both the 1- and 3-meter competitions in the season-opener at Georgia two weeks ago. Ferrucci and Christa Cabot on the women's side headline the diving teams, which are currently focal points of the program.

"We have a really good diving program," Jorgensen said. "It gives us a chance against the No. 13 Ohio State men's program. Both are outstanding programs, but our diving will be a big difference to me."

It's a testament to Jorgensen's team-first philosophy in a sport, which is at its core very much individual-based, that even when talking about some of most effective contributors he ties it back to how everything fits in with the team.

"It is all about the team in college," Jorgensen said. "To me that's what is fun. It's a lot different than the Olympics, which is all based on individuals making a team. College swimming is all about the team. That's what I love about it. I'm not as concerned about just one particular person, our staff buys into the philosophy of it all adding up as a team."

UK's swimming program is not yet as developed as the diving aspect. The challenge of getting his teams to be more balanced across all disciplines is something Jorgensen is meeting head on, both in developing his current team as well as recruiting potential newcomers.

"We try to get our kids better every day," Jorgensen said. "Every single day is an opportunity for us to get better. If it's 6 a.m. or if it's in the afternoon I love going to practice. Everybody has some things they love about their job, but my favorite thing is practice. I love the opportunity to teach and try to make kids better.

"Recruiting and establishing the base of your team with kids that have good character and work ethic is important. Instilling that across the board is challenging. Once you have that ability you can create a culture where you are able to attract some better recruits."

Jorgensen is just months into a project that will take at least a few years to reach the new head coach's ultimate vision. Still the prospect of helping, and watching, as his team improves is what Jorgensen finds most exciting.

As intriguing as Jorgensen may find the day-to-day grind of swimming and diving training -- a process that takes hours of each day and pushes the human body beyond imaginable limits if it is to yield the results UK's coach has said he desires -- athletes still need benchmarks to keep them encouraged that they're on the right track.

And an early step to reaching those benchmarks will be establishing a home-meet experience that generates a buzz in the local community. People take notice when teams improve, and the UK swimming and diving teams will look to show how much they've done just that on Friday.

Video: Jorgensen previews home meet vs. Ohio State

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Kentucky swimming and diving will host its home opener with Ohio State on at 5 p.m. ET at the Lancaster Aquatics Center on the UK campus. Here's what first-year head coach Lars Jorgensen had to say to preview the meet.


The Kentucky swimming and diving team participated in team-building exercises this week. (Charlie Healy, UK Athletics) The Kentucky swimming and diving team participated in team-building exercises this week. (UK Athletics)
A day before the first official practice of the 2013-14 season, the University of Kentucky swimming and diving team participated in a day of team-building exercises.

Led by Jason Cummins - the director of the UK Athletics Impact Leadership Program - and staff members from the ROTC program, the Wildcats joined together to solve mental and physical challenges and obstacles.

"It was great to get all the team together, with such a large and diverse team," UK head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "The best time of the year is at the beginning, to bring everyone together, we don't often have that opportunity while we're training, so it was a good way to start out our training. We want to thank Jason Cummins and the ROTC staff for helping us out."

Swim-TeamBuilding3.jpg The purpose of the team building activities was to get the team to think and work together. Each station was different, and the lessons learned on each event varied. Thought processes or methods didn't carry over from station to station. The team learned to move together and communicate better on various exercises.
 
"I think what we got out of the team building exercises was firstly that we learned a lot about ourselves, what our strengths and weaknesses are," senior Maclin Simpson said. "Most importantly though, we learned about each other. We learned how to get to know one another in order to find out our teammates' strengths and weaknesses so that we could utilize them in order to come together.

Swim-TeamBuilding1.jpg "There was a station that involved a circle with a white line around it. There were strategically placed cinder blocks and we had three wooden beams, all different sizes. We had to get everyone across the pit, just using the beams without touching the grass. We had to figure out which beam to use, how to pass it around and how to get across. The most important thing about that was communication, how to communicate effectively with one another. That's incredibly important in a team sport."
 
Other stations included pulling a teammate on a tarp for a strength and endurance event and two puzzles with different shaped pieces of wood.

The goal was to get the team working and thinking together before they begin the season Sept. 25 at Georgia.  The 2013-14 campaign, which lasts six months, will be a demanding test for the 'Cats. The team-building exercises before the season began hopefully will make that road to March a little easier.

Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
This week, eight Wildcats are taking part in a service trip in Ethiopia. Throughout the week, the student-athletes will take turns describing their experience. Please note that these posts are the personal reactions of the student-athletes and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Kentucky and UK Athletics. With the travel party set to return to the United States on Monday, Maclin Simpson writes about what he saw on Sunday.

Maclin Simpson (swimming and diving)

I woke up this morning feeling mixed emotions about the day ahead. On one hand, I was excited for another opportunity to serve the people of Ethiopia with a group of friends I would consider family. On the other, I was anxious because I knew that my expectations were about to be shattered into a million pieces, yet again turning my world upside down.

The day started just like any other. We had breakfast at the guest house followed by a quick meeting before we set out. After reconfirming our flight information, we had about an hour or so to kill so we made our way over to the zoo. I use the term "zoo" loosely because it isn't comparable to anything you would find in the U.S. More or less it was just one massive, circular cage with about ten lions that looked like they could eat any one of us without a moment's hesitation. Regardless, it was still a cool experience.

Then it all changed.

The moment that we got out of the van at the community center, we were swarmed with loving children. It was unbelievable to see the pure joy in their faces just to hold our hands and walk with us. Our task was to fill bags with assorted basic necessities and deliver them to widows and other families. Throughout our time there, the one thing that was constant was how gracious these amazing people were. It didn't matter who we were, just that we came. To them, we were an answered prayer and a gift from God. Every home that we visited (most were about half the size of a dorm room, dark and housing up to seven people) we prayed over the people about whatever physical or emotional discomfort was troubling them. Each time, without fail, they would tell us how much they loved us and prayed that God would bless us and our families. It's incredible that a village and people in such desperate need of financial capital were so content with human capital. The last home we visited was of a widow who suffers from tuberculosis; Jarrod Polson and I literally had to chase after her because she was so excited to invite us into her home and introduce us to her children. We sat, prayed and shared a hug that could have lasted a lifetime. It is those types of moments that make me realize how much of a gift from God life truly is and how much I take for granted on a daily basis. We all left that village changed and with memories that we will never forget.

Tomorrow is our last day here. I am going to miss this place and will forever be grateful for the opportunities given, experiences had, but most importantly for the people that I have met and the relationships I have formed.

Late dive coach Mike Lyden is being remembered by his daughters through a charitable act. (UK Athletics) Late dive coach Mike Lyden is being remembered by his daughters through a charitable act. (UK Athletics)
Allison Perry of UK Public Relations has written a fantastic piece about the daughters of late Kentucky dive coach "Iron" Mike Lyden who passed away from lung cancer in 2008. Lyden's daughters (Jessica 22 and Brittany 14) have come up with a way to give back to the UK Markey Cancer Center where Mike received treatment.

The daughter's decided to make homemade bracelets with white ribbons representing lung cancer, and at seven dollars a piece, they have raised more than $1,000 to date which all goes toward the Mike Lyden Patient Support Fund.

Not only has their experience with their father produced this charitable endeavor, but it's also helped strengthen Jessica's drive to pursue her medical career to help others.

"I've wanted to pursue a medical career since I was very young, and the experience we went through with my dad's illness and passing has only strengthened that dream," Jessica said. "I hope that one day as a physician, I will be able to confidently tell patients, 'We have a cure, and you will never have to worry about cancer again.' That may not be a reality for every type of cancer, but we can't stop working toward that goal."

To read the rest of the story from Perry about the Lyden family, click here.


The University of Kentucky celebrated its 146th May Commencement on Sunday. (photo by Mark Cornelison) The University of Kentucky celebrated its 146th May Commencement on Sunday. (photo by Mark Cornelison)
During the University of Kentucky's 146 May Commencement on Sunday, 49 UK student-athletes received degrees. Forty-seven earned undergraduate diplomas and two received graduate degrees.

(Note: Includes student-athletes who received degrees after their completing eligibility.)

Baseball
Thomas McCarthy
Zac Zellers (Will complete coursework this summer)

Football
Aaron Boyd
La'Rod King
Quentin McCord
Craig McIntosh
Kevin Mitchell
Matt Smith
Taylor Wyndham
(Note: 2012 seniors Mikie Benton, Gabe Correll, Gene McCaskill, Morgan Newton, Cartier Rice, Collins Ukwu, Steven Duff and Sam Simpson graduated previously.)

Gymnastics
Caitlyn Ciokajlo
Storey Morris
Whitney Rose

Men's basketball
Twany Beckham
Marquis Estill
Jon Hood
Jarrod Polson (Graduated in three years)
(Note: Jamal Mashburn also received an honorary doctorate of humanities.)

Men's golf
Joseph Barr

Men's soccer
Pedro Andreoni
Gabriel Conelian
Barry Rice

Men's swimming and diving
Jon Bullock
Jon Keltner
Ben Russell

Rifle
Heather Greathouse

Softball
Chanda Bell
Kara Dill (Graduate degree in exercise science)
Alice O'Brien
Erika Silence

Track and field
Katy Achtien
Keith Hayes
Ben Mason (Will complete coursework this summer)
Chelsea Oswald
Shiara Robinson
Josh Nadzam (Masters of social work)
Danielle Sampley
Rashaud Scott
Samantha Stenzel
Hiruni Wijayaratne
Megan Wright

Volleyball
No graduates this weekend, but seniors Ashley Frazier and Christine Hartmann had already graduated.

Women's basketball
A'dia Mathies
Crystal Riley

Women's golf
Megan Moir

Women's soccer
Natalie Horner
Brooke Keyes

Women's swimming and diving
Megan Eppler
Lindsay Lash
Mandy Myers
Sherrill Thompson

Women's tennis
Khristina Blajkevitch

Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 1)

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Women's basketball
- The Wildcats earned their second straight and third trip to the Elite Eight in the last four years after an impressive team effort over one of the nation's best players in senior Elena Delle Donne and the No. 15/16 Blue Hens.
- Ten players scored at least two points, led by redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill with 19 points and senior
All-America candidate A'dia Mathies with 16 points and season-high tying nine rebounds.
- The Wildcats have won a school-record 30 games and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fourth consecutive season.
- For the second straight season, the second-seeded Wildcats will meet the top-seeded Huskies with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
- Mathies charted her 2,000th-career point against the Blue Hens, becoming just the fifth men's or women's basketball player at Kentucky to reach the accomplishment.

Gymnastics
- No. 19 UK earned a NCAA Gymnastics Championship bid last Monday.
- The Wildcats will compete at the Morgantown, W.Va. regional on Saturday, April 6.
- Kentucky is making its ninth consecutive and 25th overall NCAA Regional appearance.
- UK will join top-seeded Michigan, No. 2-seed Nebraska, No. 3-seed Illinois, as well as host West Virginia and North Carolina seeded fifth and sixth respectively.

Softball
- The Kentucky softball team posted a road win over Lipscomb last week before falling in a non-conference tilt to No. 5 Tennessee last Friday. The game against Tennessee did not count towards Southeastern Conference team standings. UK took down Lipscomb 8-1 before falling to UT 6-0.
- UK got a strong performance offensively against Lipscomb. Griffin Joiner led Kentucky, going 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a RBI double. The homer was Joiner's team-leading eighth home run of the season. Ginny Carroll and Lauren Cumbess also had strong nights at the dish with Carroll posting a 3-for-4 night with two RBI and Cumbess blasting her fourth roundtripper of the season. Cumbess ended the game 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Christian Stokes also had two hits.
- Ellen Weaver and Kelsey Nunley combined for a strong effort in the circle against Lipscomb. Weaver threw the first two innings of the game, allowing one unearned run on one hit with two strikeouts. Nunley came in to start the third inning, keeping the Bisons scoreless the rest of the game on just two hits with five strikeouts.

Baseball
- Kentucky posted a midweek 8-2 win over Marshall, before opening the series with Georgia in a 10-inning thriller. UK got a rally in the bottom of the 10th inning that resulted in a two-out walk from Max Kuhn with the bases loaded to give UK a 3-2 win.
- On Saturday, Georgia took a 7-3 lead before UK mounted a furious rally that fell short in a 7-6 loss. UK rebounded on Sunday in its third straight rubber-match win in 2013, 5-0, behind a dominating clutch performance from Corey Littrell.
- During the four-game week, UK had a 2.19 ERA in its 37 innings, with Austin Cousino pacing the club with a .500 average (7-for-14), with four doubles, a triple and four RBI.
- Freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett leads the team with a .364 average, owning three doubles and four RBI. Junior J.T. Riddle has a .359 mark with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBI, with a 14-4 walk-strikeout ratio and four steals. A.J. Reed has hit .340 with four doubles, two triples, six homers and 28 RBI, with Cousino batting .315 with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 20 RBI, stealing four bases.

Men's tennis
- Kentucky went 2-0 on the weekend, collecting wins in its final SEC home matches of the season over No. 31 Alabama (7-0) and No. 32 Auburn (4-1).
- Senior Anthony Rossi became just the 15th player in Kentucky tennis history to collect 100-career wins as he won both of his weekend matches in straight sets.
- Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai knocked off the fifth-ranked doubles team in the nation 8-6, on Sunday as the Wildcats improved to 18-6 overall, and 6-3 in SEC play.
- UK welcomes No. 7 Ohio State to Lexington on Wednesday afternoon for another top-10 match at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center, the third top-10 showdown this season in Lexington.

Women's tennis
- The Kentucky women's tennis team lost 6-1 at No. 8 Alabama on Friday and 4-0 on Sunday at No. 22 Auburn.
- On Friday, 24th-ranked Nadia Ravita defeated No. 26 Mary Anne Macfarlane of Alabama in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.
- Kentucky will return home on Friday to host No. 19 Vanderbilt.

Swimming and diving
- Kentucky junior diver Greg Ferrucci earned three top-five finishes at the 2013 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend, accounting for all 45 points scored by Kentucky to pace UK to a 22nd place finish.
- Ferrucci earned career-best finishes at the NCAA in all three diving events, finishing fourth place on the 1-meter springboard (403.05), 3-meter springboard (423.15) and platform (418.30).
- John Fox made his NCAA debut this weekend, finishing 22nd, 23rd and 27th in those same events respectively.

Men's golf
- The UK men's golf team placed tied for 10th in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, S.C., shooting 44-over-par for the tournament.
- Junior Stephen Powers led the way for the Wildcats, fining 2-over-par for the invitational and recording his highest finish of the year, tying for fifth. The top-10 finish marked the fourth of the year for the Naperville, Ill., native and the third of the spring.
- Kentucky returns to the links April 8-9 at the Gary Koch Invitational in Tampa, Fla.

Track and field
- Rebecca Famurewa set the UK freshman record with a mark of 53.22 meters/ 174 feet 7 inches to win the Texas Relays. Famurewa's mark was also fourth best in school history.
- Hiruni Wijayaratne won the women's 1500 meters with a PR 4:34.94 at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational.
- Sean Keane won the Nikoloff 800 meters with a time of 1:51.52.
- Michelle Canterna missed the school record pole vault by half an inch as she cleared 3.85 meters/ 12'07.50" to take fourth at the Nikoloff.
- Kayla Parker's PR 110H time of 13.20 was good for fifth place at the Texas Relays, and was the second fastest time in UK history.
- Keith Hayes claimed fifth in the 110H with a time of 13.66, which was also good for No 2 in the school record book.
- Chelsea Oswald and Cally Macumber ran two of the four fastest 5,000-meter times in Kentucky history on Friday at the Stanford Invitational.

Upcoming schedule

Monday, April 1
Women's basketball vs. Connecticut - 7:30 p.m. (Bridgeport, Connecticut)

Tuesday, April 2
Baseball at Louisville - 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3
Men's tennis hosts Ohio State - 2:00 p.m.
Softball at Louisville - 6:00 p.m.
Men's tennis hosts Murray State - 7:00 p.m.

Friday, April 5

Track and field at Florida Relays - 10:00 a.m. (Gainesville, Fla.)
Women's tennis hosts Vanderbilt - 12:00 p.m.
Softball at South Carolina - 7:00 p.m.
Baseball at LSU - 8:00 p.m.
Track and field at Bellarmine Invitational (Louisville, Ky.)
Women's golf at Rebel Intercollegiate (Oxford, Miss.)

Saturday, April 6

Track and field at Florida Relays - 10:00 a.m. (Gainesville, Fla.)
Track and field at Crimson Tide Invite - 11:30 a.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Men's tennis at Vanderbilt - 12:00 p.m.
Softball at South Carolina - 4:00 p.m.
Gymnastics at NCAA Regional - 6:00 p.m. (Morgantown, W. Va.)
Baseball at LSU - 7:30 p.m.
Volleyball at KIVA Collegiate Tournament (Louisville, Ky.)
Track and field at Bellarmine Invitational (Louisville, Ky.)
Women's golf at Rebel Intercollegiate (Oxford, Miss.)

Sunday, April 7
Softball at South Carolina - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at LSU - 2:00 p.m.
Women's golf at Rebel Intercollegiate (Oxford, Miss.)

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