Swimming Looks To Continue To Raise the Bar In 2000-2001

Nov. 14, 2000

After two years of record-breaking performances and another solid off-season of training, the 2000-2001 edition of the University of Washington swimming team will be looking to continue the tradition that for the last 68 years has been the pride of the Pacific Northwest.

UW head coach Mickey Wender, now in his third season, directed the 1999-2000 Huskies to 11 school record-breaking performances and had three swimmers earn trips to the NCAA championship meet. His team also earned other accolades, as the men's team received the school's community service award and the women's squad was tabbed for having the most school spirit.

'Overall, I was very pleased with our performance last season,' Wender said. 'I feel really good about the number of school records, the way everyone swam individually, the number of people who qualified for the trials and the number of people we had at NCAAs. We are improving in every area. I also was very impressed with our academic performance this spring, which I know will carry forward.'

With the success of last season, Wender's main focus is to continue to raise the level of expectation both in and out of the pool.

'One of my goals is to consistently raise the bar - both in and out of the pool,' Wender said. 'We're holding people more accountable to a higher, consistent standard year after year and the team is responding to it. They are assuming increased levels of responsibility for their performances and it has shown.'

In 2000-2001, the Huskies will have eight swimmers with U.S. Olympic trials experience, which includes one, senior Irene Schneider, who turned in an All-America performance in 2000. Despite the experience, the men's team has only three seniors, while the women's team boasts just four upperclassmen, which will make team chemistry an important factor in the Huskies' success.

'Team chemistry is everything, even in an individual sport,' Wender says. ' It is something that we spend an awful lot of time on. We make sure that every athlete holds one another accountable and that everyone understands that we are only as strong as our weakest link.'

Leading the way for the Huskies this season will be team captains - seniors Francis Tam, Jamie Stone, Janella Bart and Schneider.

'We're blessed with great leadership,' Wender said. 'We have four team captains, who not only understand and share the same vision for Husky swimming, but who believe in the potential and future of this team. They know how this program works. It is interesting that the team selected four people who have been very successful under the system I have implemented.

The Huskies will need outstanding leadership to conquer the team's 2000-2001 schedule. This season the UW will have meets in six different states, including trips to Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska and Utah. The dual-meet schedule will feature non-conference foes Northwestern, Air Force and Brigham Young, in addition to meets against Pac-10 schools Arizona State, Washington State and Oregon State.

'I think it's safe to say that this is the most challenging schedule that Husky swimming has ever seen,' Wender said. 'The level of competition and the number of quality ranked division I programs is what makes it so tough.

'We are taking some incredible trips and right from the first meet we will be challenged. That is going to be a new element this year - the amount of travel and level of competition. We will have some great battles this year.'

The following is an event-by-event breakdown of the 2000-2001 Husky squad.

The Huskies return both of their fastest swimmers last season in the 50 and 100 freestyle in junior David Moilanen and Stone. Moilanen swam a career-best time of 20.75 in the 50 free in the bonus finals at the 2000 Pac-10 championships, while Stone's 100 free time of 45.72 at last year's Pac-10s ranks him ninth among the men's all-time top-10 swimmers. In addition to Stone and Moilanen, junior Ryan Oleson, who broke the school-record in the 100 butterfly last season, and sophomores Tim Collins, James Castner and Jeff Schmidt return to bolster the Husky sprint corps. Freshmen Justin Adrian, Luke Ekhoff, Don Gorman and Derek Rose also have already shown promise in the short freestyle events and as potential relay members.

The 200 freestyle will be just as open as the shorter events as Wender will look to seven or possibly eight swimmers to swim one of the more technical races in swimming.

'Strategically, the 200 (freestyle) is a chess match in figuring out the best way to swim and it takes a lot of practice and experience,' Wender said. 'We have people swimming up from the 100 and down from the 500, so everyone's strategy is different. The 200 is a good meeting ground that levels the playing field for people with all different backgrounds.'

While the sprint and middle distance freestyle will have a multitude of faces, the Huskies will need to find a way to replace former standout and current student assistant coach Bryan Nelson in the distance freestyle events. That responsibility will fall largely on a number of new faces, including freshmen John Lyssand, a two-time Washington state champion in the 500 free, Jesse Nitz, who finished first in the 200 free at the state meet as a senior, and Chris Monson.

Junior Josh Hickman also returns after recording the team's second-fastest times in the 500, 1000 and 1650 free last season, while freshman Michael Quann could be another potential entrant in the distance events for the Huskies.

Much like the 200 freestyle, the backstroke events will be wide open with the primary names being Tam and Moilanen. Tam, who holds the school record in the 200 back of 1:48.41, concentrated mostly on the breaststroke last season, but will need to return some of his focus to the backstroke. Moilanen, meanwhile, placed 15th in the 100 backstroke at Pac-10 championships and swam the team's second-fastest time in that event (51.26).

Stone, Rose and sophomores Matt Zielke and Mark Pearson could also see time in the backstroke.

The breaststroke events will be one of the team's strengths this season. Tam, senior Ben Millard and freshman Ekhoff all swam the breaststroke at this past summer's U.S. Olympic trials. Tam won his heat of the 100 breaststroke at the trials and placed in the top 50 in the 200 breaststroke, while Millard trains primarily as a sprinter and has been one of the Huskies' top performers since his freshman season. The key, however, may be Ekhoff, who won back-to-back titles in the 100 breaststroke at the Oregon state high school meet and boasts personal best times of 55.94 in the 100 and 1:59.99 in the 200-yard event. Ekhoff's classmates Nitz and Monson are also factors in the breaststroke events.

Another strong stroke group for the Huskies for 2000-2001 will be the butterfly. Oleson broke the school record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.06 in the preliminaries of the 2000 Pac-10 championships, only to have the record taken away by former teammate Robert Roosa, who finished in 48.70 in the finals. Oleson, however, was not done either, as he improved his career-best effort to 48.94 in placing 10th in the consolation finals at the conference meet.

Oleson will be joined by fellow returnees Castner, Collins, Hyman, Stone and Schmidt along with freshmen Adrian and Rose in the 100 fly.

The 200-yard event will be less deep with Hyman, Oleson, Adrian, transfer Aaron Wilson and freshman Leonceo Angsioco. Hyman finished 16th overall in the 200 butterfly at his first career Pac-10 meet last season, posting a time of 1:49.43 and reaching the senior national standard.

The individual medley events will be headlined by Tam, who will be kept busy with his duties in both the breaststroke and backstroke. Tam finished 14th overall in the 200 individual medley at the Pac-10s. Pearson, Zielke and Ekhoff will be other keys in the 200-yard event, while Pearson and Monson will be needed to step up and score in the 400 IM.

With the loss of school record-holder Kristen Nagata, sophomore Kim Harada is expected to be the team's top performers in everything from the 50 to 200 freestyle. Harada is coming off an impressive freshman season, which saw her move into the second slot behind Nagata in the Huskies' all-time top 10 in both the 100 and 200 free. Harada finished 15th in the 100 (51.50) and 17th (1:50.77) at the Pac-10 championships and swam in both events at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Other faces in the sprint and middle distance freestyle events include newcomers freshmen Melody Staubitz and Lisa Fanning. Staubitz displayed her versatility in the freestyle events by finishing fourth at the Arizona state high school meet in both the 50 and 500 freestyle, while recording a runner-up finish in the 100 free as a junior. Fanning, a local product of Bellevue, Wash., is a natural athlete, who coach Wender believes has school record-breaking potential this season.

The Huskies return senior and team co-captain Bart to headline the distance freestyle events. Bart participated in both the 400 and 1500-meter freestyle events at last season's NCAA championships and set two school records in the 500 freestyle (4:53.15) and the 1000 free (10:00.95) at the Pac-10 meet. Her fourth-place finish in the 1650 freestyle also was the team's highest individual finish at the Pac-10 meet.

Bart will be joined by senior Katherine Weatherhead, sophomore April Cheadle and freshmen Samantha Brace and Staubitz in the 500 freestyle. Bart, Brace, Cheadle and even Schneider will be names in the 1650 freestyle.

The team will look to develop as a whole in the backstroke events over the 2000-2001 season. Harada posted personal best times in both events last season, while sophomore Megan Taggart competed in the 100 and 200 at the Pac-10 championships.

After red-shirting last season, sophomore Julie Massey will be Washington's top swimmer in the breaststroke events. Massey, a transfer from UCLA, qualified for the last summer's Olympic trials in four events and swam what would have been team bests at the Husky Invitational in the 100 (1:03.99) and 200 (2:17.74) breaststroke. Freshmen Brittany Reichardt and Jennifer Nerison, along with sophomores Jennifer Stucka and Megan Coddington will be other key figures for the Huskies in the breaststroke.

Any number of swimmers could earn scoring positions for Washington in the butterfly events. Leading the way will be senior All-American Schneider, who finished 16th overall in the 200 fly at the NCAA meet and owns the school record of 2:00.23. Schneider will be joined by sophomore Evelyn Hingsbergen and freshman Kristen Honma.

Another freshman, Jenn Latzen, also will make an impact in the butterfly events after finishing sixth at the 2000 junior nationals in the 200 fly.

The Huskies will draw from their strengths in a number of different stroke groups to fill positions in the individual medley events, with the mainstays this season being Schneider in the 400 IM and Massey in the 200 IM. Massey and Schneider both swam in the 200 and 400 individual medleys respectfully at the Olympic Trials, while Schneider is the school record-holder with a time of 4:18.74 in the 400-yard event.

In addition to Schneider and Massey, Staubitz, Nerison, Latzen and Reichardt will vie for spots, while distance freestylers Bart, Brace and Cheadle also are factors.

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