Reviewin' & Previewin' - Men's and Women's Swimming

Sorry about the lateness this morning, but the previewin' and reviewin' party continues on Rock M this week as we take a look at two programs which continue to make the slow climb to national prominence.  Coach Brian Hoffer has been with the Tigers for 17 seasons coming into 2009-2010, and thanks to some good faith and effort from the Athletic Department, has been allowed to grow and expand the program, especially over the past couple of years thanks to the amazing Missouri Aquatic Center, which has become quite the recruiting tool.  We will cover what the 08-09 version of the squads did, what we think the 09-10 squads may do, as well as a quick look at the USA Track and Field Championships, which had a solid Mizzou flavor of participation this past weekend.  Let's rock and roll, but first, some helpful terms for the knowledge needy.

  • Freestyle (free) - Classic, overhand stroke
  • Backstroke (back) - should be self-explanatory
  • Breaststroke (breast) - huh huh...huh huh
  • Butterfly (fly) - crazy-ass dolphin kicking thing
  • Individual Medley (IM) - competiting in all four strokes in the same race

Men's Swimming: 2008-2009 Season

Final National Ranking: 27th
Final Conference Ranking: 2nd (first time ever)
Seniors Lost: 7 (out of 32)
2009 Roster Breakdown by Year: 4 seniors, 6 juniors, 14 sophomores, ? freshmen (the mens team does not seem to release recruiting info, though the women do...strange)
All-time Records broken in 2009: 17 (of 25 which are kept)
Big XII Champions: 0
NCAA Participants: 0

The sport of men's swimming is certainly a funny one.  How else can you explain how the Tigers would have ZERO conference champions and still come in 2nd in the conference for the first time ever?  Well, winning an individual event against anyone from Texas is very tough for one, but the Tigers are starting to build the depth needed to compete with Texas A&M.  And yes, there are only three schools which swimming on the men's side in the Big XII.

Anyway, the Tigers are slowly progressing as a national program.  They held a ranking as high as 20th this season before settling for the season at 29th.  They are swimming a tougher and tougher schedule, including duals against multiple top-10 teams this past season.  And hey, you have to love a sport where you finish 2-5 in duals and are a top-30 team.  It should be noted that academically, the Tigers lead the Big XII in APR for both men's and women's swimming and diving.

The Tigers have just said goodbye to some very solid contributors to the program.  Seniors Gilad Kaufman and Bryan Difford are leaving with their names littering the all-time swim list for Mizzou.  Kaufman, who specialized in the butterfly owns the 100 and 200 (and is on a number of all-time relays), while Difford broke the record of all-time great Matt Ferarelli in the 200 IM this past season.  Other notables leaving will be backstroke specialist Jake Hoffmann and medium-distance freestyler Matt Dahlke

On the other side, the Tigers are returning a TON of talent.  Senior-to-be Martin Cernansky will lead the charge, already owning the best times in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.  He will be rejoined by future juniors Cameron Sellers, who is the 200 freestyle leader and also very prominent in the 500 freestyle, Spenser Lauver, who owns two records in the distance freestyle events, and Jordan Hawley, the freestyle sprint king for the Tigers.  Those three own four records between them, and are second in the other two events.  Hawley even broke the 14-year old record in the 50 freestyle this past season.  There were a number of freshmen who also contributed this past season, but none bigger than Jan Konazewski, who already is the leader in the 200 backstroke.  Scott Martin will be expected to help Kaufman's void in the butterfly (along with future junior David Dorak).

In the Diving Well, it was a BIT of a down season, as the Tigers did not send a diver to the NCAA's for the first time since 2004.  Their zone competition (think of it as a regional) was super competitive and neither senior-to-be Greg Destephen (a previous All-American) or future junior Dante JonesRyan Meeker will also return to the squad for his final season, and I expect there to be some freshman names cropping up (two graduating seniors would seem to dictate that, but again, I cannot find the release).

Looking Ahead: 2009-2010

In 2009-2010, the Tigers will swim a pretty standard schedule.  They will start in early October with the Show-Me Showdown before travelling down to Dallas to swim against SMU (18th last season), Texas (3rd) and aTm (35th).  They likely to swim at some point against SMS (32nd), and will welcome Minnesota (11th) to the MAC in early 2010.  A trip to South Bend is certain to include a swim against Notre Dame (33rd) and the Missouri Grand Prix only brings Olympic Champions to Columbia.  So like I said, a pretty standard schedule.  aTm will host the Big XII's this season.

No doubt about it, the Tigers lose some big time contributors from last season to this season.  However, there is plenty of talent returning, and on the heels of a LARGE recruiting class last year (14 sophomores), expect some additional names to have grown and improved in the summer.  I will be keeping an eye on the Diving Well to see what names come up, and also on Cernanski and Konarzewski as I believe they represent our best chance of winning a Big XII individual title.  A good season for this squad would be something closer to a .500 record (since it would mean wins over some good programs) and finishing 2nd again in the Big XII.  I think we will be close, but I think it will be another productive season in the pool.

Women's Swimming: 2008-2009 Season

Final National Ranking: 27th
Final Conference Ranking: 3rd (of 6)
Seniors Lost: 10 (out of 31)
2009 Roster Breakdown by Year: 5 seniors, 9 juniors, 8 sophomores, 10 freshmen
All-time Records broken in 2009: 15 (of 25 which are kept)
Big XII Champions: 1 (Kayla Durnill, the 3rd all-time)
NCAA Participants: 8 (Kendra Melnychuk - All American)

Like the men, the women's team made some pretty significant strides in 2008, ascending all the way to #18 during the season before settling at 27th.  They had a freshman win a Big XII Championship, becoming only the third Tiger to ever accomplish that feat.  They sent a school-record eight participants to the NCAA's, bringing home their second straight All-American in graduating senior diver Kendra Melnychuk.  With 10 graduating seniors and a TON of names from the all-time list leaving, what can the Tigers expect this coming season?

Before we look ahead, let's look a little further back at the 08-09 campaign.  The women swam against a very tough schedule, splitting it at 5-5 while going 3-1 in conference (they must not have swam against UT or aTm because they certainly would have lost that as well).  They were led by seniors Lori Halvorson and Jill Granger, who combine to appear as leaders on the all-time list a staggering 10 times. Halvorson will likely be missed the most, as she dominated the 100 and 200 freestyle while also appearing on four (of five) relay teams.  The other ENORMOUS senior loss will be that of Melnychuk, a two-time All-American in the diving well.

So, with the doom and gloom having passed, what do the Tigers have to look forward to in 09-10?  The answer is plenty, as they had some big-time performances from a number of underclassmen last season.  At the top of that list would have to be soon-to-be sophomore Kayla Durnil, who won the Big XII Championship in the 200 breaststroke.  She is already the school record holder in one other event (100 breast) and is just behind Granger in the 400 IM.  Durnil is joined by fellow sophomore to-be Lisa Nathanson, who became the first female Mizzou swimmer to break 23 seconds in the 50 free.  Colleen Gordon will be one of the senior leaders on the squad and a continued force in 200, 500 and 1650 free events, as well as on some relays (three).  Future juniors Laura Lavigna and Francie Szostak both went to the NCAA's last season, and both will be back this year.  Lavigna holds the records in the 100 and 200 backstroke, while Szostak will be expected to take over for Halvorson in the 100 and 200 free.

In the diving well, all is not lost with the departure of Melnychuk.  A sophomore next season, Jordan Morcom had a great season and was able to put her name right on the top-10 lists in the 1m and 3m spring board.  Mizzou also has plenty of options in the 5m platform, and all of them are young.  Leading the way will be classmate Christina Gailey and now-junior Keely Brooks.

Cutting to the quick, the Tigers and Coach Hoffer are bringing in 11 new swimmers next season (10 frosh and 1 senior transfer from the University of Washington), and it is rated out as the 11th best recruiting class in the nation according to the fine folks at CollegeSwimming.com.  The headliner of the group is Kim Jasmer, who singlehandedly led the Huskies into the NCAA Competition the past couple of seasons.  She will help Gordon in the long-distance events, as well as Szostak in the 200 free, all of which she has made the NCAA's in, including being an All-American in the 500 free.  Also look for Canadian swimmer Dominque Bouchard and Cassie Cunningham from Texas to help make an impact and add depth to the backstroke.

For the coming season, the Tigers have a lot of reasons to believe they can further improve upon their finish of last season.  The returning talent, along with that of Jasmer should give them solid depth, and a strong class coming in should assist as well.  The schedule is tough once again, with Texas (3rd last season), aTm (8th), kU (31st), Notre Dame (28th), SMU (16th), Arkansas (19th) all making an appearance.  If Morcom can improve in the diving well and Jasmer can regain the form which brought her to the NCAA's in so many events in 2007, the Tigers could continue to place All-Americans and keep on ascending the ladder in women's swimming.

Outdoor Track:

A solid weekend for both current, past and long-past Tigers.  Nick Adcock put up a solid finish in the decathlon, finishing 7th.  Leslie Farmer managed the same finish in the 400m hurdles, while Christian Cantwell won the shot put competition.  Krishna Lee and Chris Rohr just missed on qualifying for the finals in their events, as did Brian Graybill and Tim Cornell in some distance events.

Random Thoughts:

  • We are short on time this week, and thus likely short on thoughts
  • Like I said last week...the Mets are up (3 of 4 from the Cardinals), the Mets are down (swept by the Yankees)
  • Still waiting for the other shoe to drop in MN and seeing what Cahn can get for Rubio from the Knicks.
  • Good for Demarre, as surprising as that was for him to go to Memphis with that pick (figured if it was Memphis, it would be at 36)
  • I do enjoy one facet of the NHL draft, where the GM's from the teams get up to make the individual picks.
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