2009-10 Men's Swimming and Diving Preview
Oct. 8, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -
Expectations are plentiful for the 2009-10 edition of the UK men’s swimming and diving team. The Wildcats return 20 letterwinners and six All-Americans from a team that placed 17th at the NCAA Championships a season ago.
“The expectations for the men’s team are extremely high simply based on the number of quality returners we have coming back,” said coach Gary Conelly. “The core nucleus returns from a year ago and they were a top-20 team last season.”
Seniors Elvis Burrows, Alex Forbes, Kyle Greene, Warren Grobbelaar and Eric McGinnis have all earned All-America status throughout their careers in the Blue and White. As a unit they are unquestionably among the top tier of athletes for the Wildcats, but their drive and leadership in their final seasons could provide UK with the spark to achieve a top-10 national finish.
Conelly has tabbed the sprint freestyle discipline as his deepest lineup. Eric McGinnis was a top-eight qualifier in both sprint events as a junior at the SEC Championships. He added to his accomplishments as a swimmer when he joined the United States as a member of the 2009 World University Games where he won a gold medal as a member of the 200-freestyle relay team.
Forbes, Greene and Grobbelaar are all among UK’s top performers all-time in the records books in both the 50 and 100-free events. Senior Chris Richard and junior Colin Faris both put together their best seasons as collegiate athletes a year ago – and also rank among UK’s all-time top-10 charts in those events.
Adding to the depth of the lineup are newcomers Chip Aplin, John Blankenhorn, and Mack Redinger.
Middle Distance Freestyle
Reed headlines this group for the Wildcats. The Kentucky native has posted consecutive seasons of All-America distinction after adding another top-15 finish in the 200-free at the NCAA Championships as a sophomore.
Greene, junior Reinhardt Strijdom and sophomore Morne’ Boshoff form a potent quartet of mid-distance swimmers in dual meet action and four have the capability of earning NCAA bids. The four combined also form a potent 800-free relay squad.
Boshoff earned All-SEC Freshman team honors after placing in the top-16 at the SEC Championships among the top-16 in the 1,650-freestyle. He will continue to race in the distance events and is challenging the UK record books in all three grueling races.
Seniors Kevin Ryan and Marco Iemmola and sophomore Ben Russell add depth to the veteran lineup. Conelly is extremely excited about the possibilities of Green’s potential in the longer races. Helping the Wildcats in this event will also be freshman John Bullock and Brendan McNamera.
Sophomore Grant Cooksey turned in an impressive first season for the Wildcats as the top performer in this discipline. As a freshman he posted the team’s best times in both breaststroke events. However, Conelly has seen the emergence of senior Julio Vallette as an extremely positive development for the Wildcats. Together the tandem provides the Wildcats with a talented one-two punch in the event that does not have the depth in numbers as some other events for the Blue and White.
Eric McGinnis joined the Wildcats in the 200-medley relays at the NCAA Championships in the breaststroke leg of the race and helped guide UK to a top-10 finish in the event. Senior Justin Max, sophomore Matt Russell and Kemme will also contribute to the breaststroke discipline.
Departing All-American Shane Eliason leaves a void in UK’s backstroke lineup, but it is not one that Conelly believes will be difficult to fill. Grobbelaar is a magnificent sprint backstroker and could possibly fill in on the short medley relays in that leg of the event.
Greene has been a top-16 consistent backstroke performer in all three of his seasons with UK. Sophomore Adam Twer enjoyed an outstanding first season with the Wildcats charting top-10 UK performances in both backstroke legs. However, it is the addition of freshmen Zach McGinnis, Tripp Crosthwaite and Ramon Walton that has Conelly particularly excited about the potential of this group.
Burrows has performed well on the national stage for two consecutive summers and last season topped Grobbelaar’s school record in the 100-fly. Having Grobbelaar return to the lineup forms a dazzling one-two combination. Forbes continues to flourish as well in the 100-fly to add to the depth.
Seniors Travis Muzzillo and Max and Matt Russell will all appear in the 200-fly events. Adding to the fire power are freshmen Jonathan Keltner and Maclin Simpson in the longer fly event and David Sanders in the shorter race.
Greene, Boshoff , Cooksey and Twer all have competed in medley events throughout their careers. They all are incredibly disciplined in the four strokes and will continue to look to improve on their times as they progress throughout the season. Four freshmen in Bullock, Crosthwaite, Simpson and Walton will provide Conelly a deep group of medley swimmers unlike he has had in recent seasons.
Sophomore Tom Gimm and freshman John Fox form the diving tandem for the 2009-10 season. Gimm was a quick learner for coach Ted Hautau and produced his best performances at the SEC Championships. Fox will immediately contribute after winning the class 5A Colorado state championship as a senior in Littleton, Colo.