UCLA Swimming and Diving Season Outlook
Oct. 9, 2001
Last season, the Bruins found great success at the Pac-10 Championships, bringing title home to Westwood for the first time ever. This year, the Bruins look to build upon last year's successes and improve upon their finish at the NCAA Championships. With the strength of senior leadership, a veteran squad and a solid incoming class, the Bruins look to have an exceptional year.
'Historically, we have been a strong team at the NCAA level. This year could be a breakthrough year, getting us back in the top six,' said Gallagher. 'We have four seniors who have been NCAA All-Americans, Elvira Fischer, Lyndee Hovsepian, Jen Noddle and Katie Younglove. Seniors in our program always swim at their highest level in their final year. Brighid Dwyer, Keiko Price, Lindsay Etter and Olympian Annette Salmeen are a testament to this. I'm counting on all nine of our seniors for leadership, enthusiasm and to be role models for our younger swimmers.'
The Bruins will not only have a revamped roster, but a remodeled coaching staff as well. New assistant coach, Greg Meehan, will join Coach Cyndi Gallagher. 'I'm looking forward to being a part of a PAc-10 Championship team and helping them continue to be a top contender at the NCAA level,' said Meehan.
Joining Meehan on the staff will be Don Witzel, who is in his third year as a volunteer assistant coach. 'Don brings enthusiasm, confidence and expertise in stroke technique to our team,' said Gallagher. In addition to Meehan and Witzel will be former Bruin All-Americans Brighid Dwyer and Beth Goodwin in the capacity of graduate assistant coaches.
In the Sprint Free events, the top returnee is sophomore Sara Platzer. Platzer is coming off of an outstanding summer, in which she placed fourth in the 50 Free at the World University Games in Beijing, China. Platzer had an impressive freshman campaign, going undefeated in the 50 and 100 Free in Pac-10 competition, placing second in the 100 and third in the 50 Free at the Pac-10 Championships and earning All-America honors in the 100 Free with her 11th place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Freshman Malin Svahnstrom, a 2000 Olympian and European Champion, will compete in the 50, 100 and 200 Free, providing depth and strength.Junior Erica Shugart is coming off of an impressive year, having swum a lifetime best in the 100 Free at Nationals. She will compete in the 50 and 100 Free. Junior LeAnne Cadag will once again be called upon to compete in the 50 and 100 Freestyle throughout the season, helping out in dual meets and on the relay teams.
Middle and Distance Free
Sophomore transfer Jackie Lobdell looks to be the top performer this year for the Bruins in the distance free events. Lobdell was a 2001 NCAA qualifier in the 500 and 1650 Free, placing 18th in the 1650 and 30th in the 500 Free.
Returning for the Bruins will be junior Erin Zehntner, who earned All-America honors as a freshman. Despite hip surgery, she looks to immediately contribute at the NCAA level in the middle and distance events. Sophomore Krissy Tinney had a confidence building summer and looks to make an impact this season. Seniors Erin Thomas and Emily Melina, both scorers at the Pac-10 Championships, will provide experience and depth in the distance events. Junior Beth Boehm and senior Geraldine Schick, also Pac-10 scorers, will swim anywhere from the 200 up to the 1650 Free, and are looking to make an impact this year. Also returning this season are junior Courtney Mayo and sophomores Lindsay Wolf and Julie Madden, each of whom are true distance swimmers. Freshman newcomer Melissa Miller, a 2001 National qualifier, will round out the Distance Free events.
Junior LeAnne Cadag returns as the Bruins top performer in the backstroke. As a freshman, Cadag earned All-America honors in the 100 Back and, as a sophomore at last year's Pac-10 Championships, she scored in both the 100 and 200 Back. She will play a pivotal role in leading this year's backstroke division.
Also returning for the Bruins will be sophomore Naoko Watanabe, UCLA's highest scorer at Pac-10's in the 200 Back, finishing seventh. Joining Watanabe will be sophomore Katie Winkelhaus, who scored in both the 100 and 200 Back at the Pac-10 Championships, placing 16th and 11th, respectively. Sophomore transfer Jackie Lobdell will add strength to the backstroke division, having qualified for the 200 Back at the NCAA Championships. Junior Stacy Kearney had an outstanding sophomore year and looks to make her move towards NCAA qualifying. Freshmen Kim Scarborough, a National qualifier, and Tamara Bal will help increase UCLA's power in the backstroke.
'The breaststroke is one of our strongest events because we have two returning NCAA All-Americans, Lyndee Hovsepian and Jen Noddle,' said Gallagher, 'and the addition of transfer Elvira Fischer.'
Fischer will immediately impact the Bruin squad this year. 'Elvira is coming off of an outstanding World Championships, placing 10th in the 200 and 16th in the 100 Breast,' said Gallagher, 'She was one of the fastest collegiate breaststrokers competing last summer.' Fischer, a two-time Olympian (1996 and 2000) and three-time All-American, finished fifth in the 200 Breast and eighth in the 100 Breast at the 2001 NCAA Championships.
The Bruins will also look to seniors Lyndee Hovsepian and Jen Noddle to lead the breaststroke contingent this year. Hovsepian, a three-time All-American, was the highest Bruin scorer in the 200 Breast at Pac-10's, placing sixth, and also scored in the 100 Breast. Noddle was the highest Bruin scorer in the 100 Breast at seventh place and also scored in the 200 Breast.
Also returning for the Bruins will be sophomores Brooke Winkler, an NCAA qualifier, Cathy Coler, who finished seventh in the 200 Breast at the Pac-10 Championships, and Leslie Hovsepian, who scored in both the 100 and 200 Breast at Pac-10's. Rounding out the group will be the very talented newcomer, Taylor Dahl.
In the butterfly, the Bruins lost three key swimmers, Beth Goodwin, Julia Voitovitsch, the school record holder in the 100 Fly, and Brighid Dwyer. 'With Goodwin, Voitovitsch and Dwyer gone, we lost three of the top six flyers in school history,' said Gallagher.
Fortunately for the Bruins, senior Katie Younglove returns in the 100 and 200 Fly. Younglove was one of the top scorers at the Pac-10 Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 Fly.
Also returning in the 100 and 200 Fly is sophomore Kristen Lewis. 'Kristen made remarkable improvements last year,' said Gallagher, ' Last year she was a walk-on, and scored 13th in the 100 Fly and 14th in the 200 Fly at Pac-10s.' Adding strength in the butterfly will be freshman Melissa Miller, a National qualifier who will immediately make an impact in the 200 Fly.
Brooke Winkler will be the top returnee for the Bruins in the individual medley. Winkler placed 17th in the 400 IM, just missing scoring, at the NCAA Championships. At the Pac-10 Championships, Winkler was the highest Bruin scorer in both the 400 and 200 IM, placing fourth and eighth, respectively. 'Brooke was recovering from mono all summer, but now is ready to go,' said Gallagher.
Also returning are senior Jen Noddle, the third fastest in the 200 IM in school history, junior Stacy Kearney, and sophomore Cathy Coler. Newcomer Malin Svahnstrom, a fierce competitor in the 200 IM, will also strengthen the Bruins.
The relays have always been a source of pride for the Bruins.
'When we have been solid on all five of our relays at NCAA's, we scored as a team in the top six,' said Gallagher. 'Our goal is to have all five relays in the finals at NCAA's. It is a tall order, but if the team continues to challenge each other in practice, work together as a team and are focused, it will happen. We have the talent to accomplish this, it comes down to a little luck and a lot of Bruin Pride to help us achieve our goal.'
This year, the Bruins return a veteran diving squad, composed of senior Liz Ackerman, juniors Regan Gosnell, Jen McNally and Heidi Prosser, sophomores Michelle Brown and Kasey Reinhard. In addition to the veterans will be newcomer Janine Strack.
'The most exciting thing about the team is that I have an older, wiser group,' said Stebbins. 'I have people who have been through the wars over the past couple of years. In the past, the team has been thrown into situations they may not have been quite prepared to handle. Now that they have had everything thrown at them, they will be far more prepared to compete under the pressure.'
Junior Heidi Prosser returns as the Bruins' favorite on the one-meter springboard. At the Pac-10 Championships, Prosser placed fifth on the one-meter and sixth at the NCAA Zone E Championships. During her third trip to Nationals, Prosser finished 22nd on the one-meter. 'Heidi is really solid on one-meter. She limits her mistakes and has an excellent ability to perform when the pressure is on. Heidi knows how to win and, if we can keep her healthy, she will be a factor at the end of the year.'
Junior Regan Gosnell, who has been a finalist at Pac-10's the past two years, will also strengthen the Bruins on the one-meter. 'Regan is a great competitor and able to get on her head when it really matters,' said Stebbins. 'We spent the summer trying to make her list of dives stronger, and I think that's going to help her this year.'
Jen McNally, also a junior, had an impressive summer on the one-meter. She finaled at Senior Zones, her first final ever. 'I think that her one-meter is always solid. She just does nice things,' said Stebbins, 'She competes well on one-meter.' Senior Liz Ackerman and sophomores Kasey Reinhard and Michelle Brown will help strengthen the Bruins on the one-meter. Brown is returning from the summer after qualifying for the US Senior National meet in this event.
On the three-meter springboard, both Gosnell and Prosser will be fierce competitors. Both qualified on the three-meter at Senior Nationals last summer. Gosnell has improved as a springboard diver and will prove to be a tough competitor this season. 'She can play with the big kids in the conference,' said Stebbins. Heidi Prosser had a breakthrough season last year, qualifying for Nationals on the three-meter for the first time. 'Heidi's three-meter list will be tough to beat at the end of the year,' said Stebbins.
Solidifying the Bruins on the three-meter will be sophomore Michelle Brown, Kasey Reinhard, Liz Ackerman and Jen McNally. 'Brown is very good on the three-meter,' said Stebbins. Kasey Reinhard, who missed summer competition recovering from a stress fracture, has recovered and is ready for competition. 'I think that Kasey is going to be able to get back to where she was last June in a month or two,' said Stebbins. Liz Ackerman will be an asset on the three-meter, having improved her list of dives and strengthening her performance on the three-meter. Jen McNally rounds out the group of returning divers on the three-meter. 'Jen has really made great strides,' said Stebbins.
In addition to the veterans on the squad is freshman Janine Strack. 'Janine has a great ability to spin,' said Stebbins, 'She's strong and quick. A year of training in this program will really increase her ability to perform.'
On platform, the core group will consist of Regan Gosnell, Michelle Brown, Jen McNally and Janine Strack. The Bruins will look to Regan Gosnell to lead them on the tower. Gosnell, a three-time semi-finalist at Nationals will bring top-level competition experience to the squad. 'Regan is our best platform diver. She's really started to become a top-level competitor at the US National level,' said Stebbins. 'I am confident that experience will transfer over to the NCAA realm this year. I think that she's got a real great shot at being sensational on platform.'
Michelle Brown, who is still new to the platform, will also be a contributor from the tower. 'Michelle has had a list for a couple of years,' said Stebbins, 'I think she's going to get tougher as the year progresses.'
Jen McNally looks to have a breakthrough year. 'Jen is about a dive away from qualifying for Senior Nationals.
Janine Strack will also help the Bruins on the tower. 'Janine has done a lot of tower work and will add great depth to the program on platform,' said Stebbins, 'Janine says that this is where she is most comfortable and is working hard at making her list of dives competitive. Her future is very bright on platform.'
With a solid group of divers on the platform, the Bruins look to be very competitive. 'I think that we are very good on tower,' said Stebbins.
'We're going to miss Annie Baghramian, who graduated last year,' said Stebbins, 'She was a huge point-getter for us during the year in dual meets and at NCAA's. up and do that for us this year. I believe we have a lot of people capable of stepping up to fill that role for us this year. It will be a lot of fun to watch that all happen.'