2001-02 Washington Swimming Season Preview
Oct. 15, 2001
It's the word that seems to come up most often when UW head coach Mickey Wender talks about the 2001-02 edition of the Husky swim team.
The men's team, in many ways, lived up to its potential a year ago with its first top 25 ranking in the Wender era, but are looking to raise the level of expectation even more as the program enters its 70th season.
'The men raised the bar last year,' Wender said. 'With our top-24 ranking, it brought a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, but also an increased expectation of what our program is capable of. My sense on the men's side is that they have something to prove, and they want to keep this program moving in the right direction.'
Seventeen letterwinners return on the men's side, including four school record-holders. Senior David Moilanen, the team's first-ever Academic All-American, and sophomore Derek Rose share the UW's record of 50.53 in the 100 backstroke, while sophomore Justin Adrian owns the fastest time in program history with his 48.43 performance in the 100 butterfly. Junior Tim Collins, the anchor of the school-record 200 medley relay, rounds out the returning record-holders.
Making up almost half of the returnees is the eight-member sophomore class that made an immediate impact in its first season at Washington.
'We expected Luke (Ekhoff), Justin (Adrian) and Derek (Rose) to come into the program and have an immediate impact, and they did not disappoint,' Wender said. 'There is a lot of expectation, on those guys in particular, to help us move the whole program to the next level this year. We will be counting on their experience and leadership to help our new guys continue where we left off.'
One of the biggest challenges for the Husky men will be to find some way to replace the leadership role left vacant with the graduation of Francis Tam, a five-time school record-holder and team captain.
'It hurts us to lose Francis Tam,' Wender says. 'He was our quarterback and a guy who you always knew if you put him in, you had a good chance at winning the race. He was a racer and great competitor, and we need, as a men's team, for a couple guys to follow in his footsteps.
A few of the swimmers who Wender looks to fill the leadership role this season are team captains senior Ryan Oleson and junior Kit Tainter, along with Ekhoff, who leads the breaststroke group and has the team's top time in the 200 IM.
'Luke was an inspiration to the entire men's team last year,' Wender said. 'He brings tremendous maturity and work ethic and experience.'
On the women's side, the Huskies are without a senior class, but arebolstered by a solid core of returnees, in addition to 13 incoming freshmen, who will add instant quality depth.
'The women had a challenging season last year,' Wender said. 'I know they are much improved, especially with the group of freshmen, who will provide immediate help in every area. It will be a much different women's team and a lot of fun for everyone.'
Leading the way once again will be junior Kim Harada, who broke three school records and tallied four NCAA B qualifying times a year ago. Harada is the team's top returnee in the 50 through 200-yard freestyle, both backstroke events and was the lead-off leg on all the Huskies fastest relay teams. She also placed in the top five of all three of her individual events at the Pac-10 meet, the best performance of any UW swimmer.
'Kim has come a long way in her two years as a Husky, and I fully expect her to continue to improve,' Wender said. 'Kim is the ultimate competitor and loves to race. She is the type of person that as a coach, you want on your side.'
Among the other 12 returning letterwinners is sophomore Brittany Reichardt, who posted the team's fastest time in the breaststroke events, junior co-captain Evelyn Hingsbergen, the top 100-yard butterflier and sophomore Melody Staubitz, who swam a personal and team-best 4:58.23 in the 500 free. Wender and the Huskies are also looking for junior Julie Massey to have a break-out year in her second competitive season at the UW.
The biggest impact for the Husky women's team, however, will not come from the returnees, but rather the large group of highly touted newcomers, who not only bring top talent, but also add instant depth.
'We need to be patient as a staff and give our new people a chance to grow into the program,' Wender said. 'But we have every expectation that our freshmen will provide immediate help and support.'
Below is an event-by-event breakdown of the 2001-02 Husky squad.
School record-holder Harada returns to once again anchor the sprint events, as well as the 200-yard race. Harada followed up her outstanding performance at last season's Pac-10 meet with a pair of top-22 finishes in both the 50 and 100 freestyle at this summer's senior nationals. A year ago, Harada was relied upon to not only provide top results in the freestyle events, but also swam a leg in all of the team's top relays, in addition to the backstroke events. At the Husky Invitational in early December, she swam five individual events and all five relays, three of which finished with season-best times.
'I think she felt pressured last year, because she feels a responsibility to help the team in any way that she can,' Wender said. 'We will definitely be relieving some of that burden this year with some of the new people coming in, especially in the freestyle.'
Some of those new people include freshmen Annette Vayo from Placentia, Calif., and Nichole Real from Omaha, Neb. Vayo enters the season with the team's second-best time in the 100 free (52.12) and third-best in the 50-yard race (23.98), while Real has the fourth-best times on the team in the 50 (24.18) and 100 free (52.65). Returnee Lisa Fanning also provided the UW with solid results in the sprint freestyle events as a freshman.
Local standout and multi-event performer Hannah Jo will help Harada in the 200 freestyle. Jo enters the season at the top of the Huskies' depth chart in four events, including both individual medleys, the 100 fly, the 200 back and the 500 free.
'Hannah is one of the best swimmers to come out of the state of Washington,' Wender says. 'She is extremely versatile, so it's really going to be hard to decide where to use her.'
Jo will be joined in the 500 free by Staubitz, who swam the team's top time in the event a year ago and can also make contributions in anything from the 50 to the 500.
'April has come a long way from 5:17 to 5:03 in two years in the 500 free,' Wender said. 'We expect her to make another significant improvement, which will make her a point scorer at the Pac-10 meet.'
One of the team's biggest area of improvement from last season will be in the backstroke, an area which the Husky staff focused on in last season's recruiting. As a result, four of the five top swimmers in the 100 and five of the top six in the 200 entering this season are all freshmen.
Harada will once again lead the 100-yard backstroke group, however, freshman Abby Hutton, a three-time Colorado state champ, will add a one-two punch with Harada in the 100 and with Jo in the 200.
The team's top swimmer in the breaststroke, Reichardt returns to lead the stroke group in both the 100 and 200-yard races. Reichardt will have a bigger support group this season with the addition of freshmen Melissa Chandler and Erin Kloos, along with Massey and junior Jenny Stucka. Stucka posted a career-best time of 1:05.94 in the preliminaries of the 100 breaststroke at the Pac-10 meet, before finishing 24th in the finals.
Jo and her roommate Anissa Hilyard give the Huskies a pair of solid finishers in the 100 and 200 yard butterfly. Jo enters with the team's top time in the 100-yard race (56.30), while Hilyard is second with a time of 57.29. The two flip-flop in the 200-yard race, with Hilyard posting a best of 2:02.14 and Jo trailing right behind at 2:02.20.
Hingsbergen and sophomore Jenn Latzen also return, as the Huskies look to fill the loss of All-American Irene Schnieder in the 200 fly.
Freshmen should also dominate the team's individual medley events. Jo enters the season with the fastest times in both events, while newcomers Chandler and Hilyard came swim either distance. Massey and Latzen will also add experience to the group.
The men's squad returns a solid group of swimmers in the sprint and middle distance freestyle events this season. Five of the team's top swimmers from a year ago return in the 50 and 100-yard events, including Moilanen, Collins, Rose, Adrian and junior Jeff Schmidt.
Adrian, Schmidt, junior Josh Hickman and freshman Jim Wolfe will lead the Huskies in the 200 freestyle, while Hickman posted the squad's top time in the 500-yard race (4:33.51) at the Pac-10s last season.
The team's biggest improvement from a year ago in the freestyle, in terms of depth, will be in the distance events. Sophomore John Lyssand carried much of the load in both the 1,000 and 1,650-yard events, along with classmates Jesse Nitz and Chris Monson. Wolfe and local standout Kevin Quinn, however, will provide quality support in everything from the 500 to the mile.
Although both of the school's record-holders in the 100 back return, Wender sees the backstroke as an area where the Huskies will need help.
'Backstroke is an area where we need someone to step up for us,' Wender said. 'We do have our two school record holders returning in Moilanen and Rose, but I think our entire backstroke group knows that is time to step up.'
Moilanen broke the school's previous school record of 50.82, by swimming a time of 50.70 on the lead-off leg of the 400 medley relay at the Husky Invitational. Moilanen and Rose later went on to improve the mark at the Pac-10 meet, as the two tied for 18th place in 50.53.
With the loss of former standout Francis Tam, Ekhoff looks to lead the breaststroke group. Ekhoff made the championship final of the 200 breaststroke at the Pac-10 meet, finishing an NCAA B time of 2:01.26. Ekhoff, whose time in the 200 breaststroke was the team's fastest by over three seconds, also had a great summer training season, placing 11th in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:19.01) at the Phillips 66 Senior Nationals.
Ekhoff will be supported by a pair of freshmen in Olympia, Wash., native Cameron Barclift and Oregon state high school champion Ben Metcalfe. Returnees Monson and Nitz also are coming off solid first seasons in the breaststroke.
One of the team's strongest events this season will be the 100 butterfly. Adrian, who at 6-6 is the tallest swimmer on the Huskies' roster, swam an NCAA B qualifying time of 48.43 at the 2001 Pac-10 meet, placing eighth overall and setting the school record.
'Justin Adrian improved over a second and a half in the 100 fly last year,' Wender said. 'He has a lot of potential and has really just begun to show us what he is capable of,' Wender said.
Oleson and Rose also swam senior national qualifying times in the 100 fly, while junior James Castner and Collins came away with personal bests in the event in 2001.
The 200 butterfly won't be as deep as the 100-yard event, although some of the same faces will see time in the longer distance, including Oleson, Adrian, junior Jeff Hyman and Gillis.
The Huskies will have a combination of new and old faces in the individual medleys. Ekhoff returns with the UW's top time of 1:49.49, which placed him 10th at the Pac-10 meet, while Pearson posted the Huskies' best effort of 4:02.32 in the 400 IM. Newcomer Barclift can swim either the 200 or 400 IM, while the latter is Monson's best event.
'The 400 IM is (Monson's) best event,' Wender said. 'Plus, he's a great trainer and last year was willing to do whatever we ask of him, including swimming the distance free and the breaststroke. This year, he will have more time to focus and really has the potential to go under four minutes in the 400 IM in December.'