Oct. 1, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- Coming off the best season in school history in terms of winning percentage, the East Carolina men's and women's swimming and diving teams will open the 2009-10 campaign on Friday, October 2, at 3 p.m. with the annual Purple-Gold meet.
Pirate head coach Rick Kobe, now in his 28th year at the helm, returns a talented group of veterans that posted a combined mark of 18-2-1 in dual meet competition last season; a winning percentage of .860. The ladies finished with a 10-1 dual meet record, while the men posted an 8-1-1 mark.
Coach Kobe has put together a challenging schedule for his young teams. The Pirates open the season by hosting NCAA Championship participant North Carolina and also go head-to-head with N.C. State, Old Dominion, Towson, UNC Wilmington and William & Mary among others. All in all, the Pirates will go into dual meet competition 13 times in 2009-10. They will also make their second-straight trip to the Gamecock Invitational hosted by South Carolina.
The ladies, who finished fourth at the Conference USA Championships, will rely heavily on youth, as 21 of the 31 squad members are freshmen and sophomores. Eleven letterwinners are gone from last year, including 2009 senior Amanda Duncan, who holds the school records in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly.
The Pirate men return 18 lettermen from the 2008-09 team that finished third at the C-USA Championships. The ECU men lost 11 lettermen from last year, but welcome an outstanding class of 14 freshmen and one transfer. The Pirate men will also rely heavily on youth this season as the 32-man roster includes 11 seniors and juniors and 21 freshmen and sophomores.
While the team is filled with youthful enthusiasm and potential, the seven member senior class will be counted upon to provide leadership and pave the way for their understudies for the upcoming season.
As a team last year, ECU set a combined 25 varsity records and five freshmen records. The Pirates return 14 record holders for the 2009-10 season, including junior Thiago Cavalcanti who set four individual varsity records and just missed meeting the NCAA qualifying standards. Cavalcanti is one of 10 All-Conference USA performers to return to the 2009-10 squad.
Junior Stephanie Harper earned all-league honors in the 200-yard breaststroke by setting an ECU record and meeting an NCAA `B' qualifying time of 2:14.45. Sophomore Jenna Stewart established a new ECU standard in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle as a rookie, while picking up all-conference honors in the 50. Teamed with Blue and sophomores Kelsey Brosi, the ladies' top backstroke swimmer, and Kali Gaskill, Stewart will look to produce new records in the relay events as well as earn all-conference honors again in 2010.
Heading up the list of returning men's all-conference performers is sophomore Ailton Temotio, who had a magnificent rookie campaign, helping establish three varsity relay records. Other returning All-Conference USA swimmers include breaststrokers Tommy Ryan and Travis Stauder and flyer Andrew Stoker. Ryan and Stauder each set new ECU marks in the 100-yard breaststroke last season, while Stoker produced a new record in the 200-yard butterfly.
In addition to the aforementioned individuals, other returnees that are expected to make major contributions for the ladies this season include juniors Lauren Dufault, Courtney Harris and Mercedes Minney and sophomore Kristen Giese, all part of a talented group of flyers. Harris will join Jones and sophomores Ashley Mullen and Brittany Radcliffe as part of the IM group.
Sophomores Michelle Gadowry and Caitlin Marsilii will lead a deep distance freestyle group. Both are Conference USA Championship finalists and rank among the school's all-time top 10 in the three distance events. Sophomores Jessica Brinkley and Anna Wayne will fill the breaststroke event to make it a strong point of this year's lineup.
The men's team is also looking forward to the contributions of a number of seasoned veterans. Jonathan Bailey, Andrew Christian and Billy Gordon make the distance and middle-distance freestyle some of the team's strongest events. Another event that will be enhanced by a veteran is the breaststroke where Andrew Johnson returns after missing the final few weeks of the season. Adding depth in these events will be Doug Parker, Ben Sisler and Roman Sandler, who will also compete in the IM and backstroke events as well. Miles Maximini will join the backstroke group.
A talented group of freshman is also expected to contribute to the success of the Pirates in 2009-10. Michael Krone, Rick Smith and Chase Wittenauer are projected to be competing for the top spots in the middle-distance freestyle events by season's end. The coaching staff also anticipates Geoff Bobsin, Patrick Lytle and Andy Richter to challenge the returning freestyle sprinters. Elliot Casey, Mike Jolly and William Quarles give depth needed to make a strong group of backstrokers, as do Chris Borysewicz, J.D. Flanagan and Turner Haigwood in the butterfly.
The women's team is also filled with some outstanding rookies. Holly Berenotto and Kylie Francis possess elite speed and will participate in the sprint free events. Kayla Ford, Stephanie Hughes and Heather O'Toole join the backstroke group this year with Elizabeth Oliver and Anna Holland Lawrence merging with the both the breaststroke and IM groups.
Under the direction of new coach Mark Lenzi, the diving program is expected to have a very good season. Back for her sophomore seasons is Meghan Coyne, who qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships last year. Katie Yamamoto, who was also an NCAA qualifier a year ago, will redshirt this season due to injury. Looking to fill in during her absence will be junior Bekah Juarez and newcomer Kirstie Russell. Freshmen Ian Hogan, Tyler Dunsmore, and Alex Cohen form the men's team. The coaches feel that this might be the strongest recruiting class of divers top to bottom in quite some time.