UIC Athletics Winter 2007-2008 Preview: Men's Swimming and Diving
Oct. 16, 2007
Coming off a successful 2006-2007 season, the UIC men's swimming and diving team is gearing up for its 2007-2008 campaign.
The 2006-2007 season featured a balance of veteran athletes wrapping up their careers as newcomers grew determined to propel the level of excellence that is UIC swimming and diving. Led by graduated senior Blake Booher, who was named Men's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year after winning the 50-yard freestyle for an unprecedented third year in a row, the men's team finished fourth at the Horizon League Championships.
While Booher, an Olympic trials qualifier, anchored the Flames victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relays at the league finals, the other three relay members return to action this season.
Team captain and UIC record holder Dan Hare is looking to end his college career with more Horizon League honors this season, and the sophomore duo of Brenden Dougherty and Cameron Seebeck are both among the top returnees in the 50 and 100-yard free in the Horizon League.
That the high level of competition is already the norm in their early collegiate careers will serve these new leaders of the team well, according to head coach Paul Moniak.
"They know what it takes to be successful." said Moniak, who is entering his seventh season with the Flames. "The goal of this team is to finish top three in the league. It will be a learning experience for everybody, but we are up to the challenge."
Other top returnees for the Flames include junior distance specialist Davor Trnovljakovic, a consistent Horizon League finalist, and sophomore Andy Peterson, one of the top backstroke specialists in the league.
The freshman class of the 2007-2008 season is great in number as well as in talent, as 13 newcomers hit the water for UIC this season. The top prep standouts include high school All-American Evan Dunn (Edmond, Okla.), breaststroke and IM specialist Kevin Linsley (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), and sprinters Andrew Schmitt (Glenview) and Steve Yemm (Sterling) who are preparing to build on to the tradition of sprinting success for the Flames.
Even with all the new athletes competing this year, Moniak says that the team has already gelled and is getting to know one another.
"They are all getting together for a common goal, and that is the Horizon League Championships."
Another new face at the UIC Natatorium will be first-year assistant coach Emily Cocks, who was a three-time NCAA qualifier in the breaststroke during her collegiate tenure at Michigan.
"I am confident in her helping us obtain our team goals and team potential," Moniak said of his new hire. "We are truly pleased to have her expertise on the pool deck."
With the loss of school record holder and NCAA Zone qualifier Mark Pappalardo, diving captain Tristan Oleynik will lead the charge this year after staging a remarkable comeback from back injury during the regular season. Veteran head diving coach Larry Barcheski enters his 17th season instructing the Flames on the boards.
One major change to the schedule this season will feature a trip to Oxford, Ohio for the Miami Invitational, held November 30th to December 1st. Moniak made the change "in order to have better performances at the Horizon League Championships." League rivals Milwaukee, Wright State and Cleveland State competed at the Miami Invite last season, as well as Cincinnati, Marshall, Houston and host Miami.
This season will feature home meets against Horizon League opponents Wright State (October 26th), Butler, Milwaukee and non-conference opponent North Dakota (November 10th) and Valparaiso on January 26th. Other home meets include the UIC Diving Invitational (October 21st) and in-state rival Western Illinois will bring 2007 competitions to a close on December 19th.
The Flames travel to Northwestern October 27th, go west to face Saint Louis November 17th, face off at Green Bay January 12th, and conclude their regular season on February 2nd at Cleveland State with Youngstown State.
The season wraps up in Cleveland at the Horizon League Championships February 20-23th.
The unification of the veteran returnees with new team members will be essential to a top finish for the Flames this season. But if the team's first outing of the year, a win at Eastern Illinois on October 13th is any indication, this season will go along swimmingly.