NORTON, Mass. - Recognizing that the nucleus of his teams return from a season when each matched its best conference championship finish in program history coupled with the fact of welcoming in sizable first-year classes, Wheaton College men's and women's swimming & diving head coach Jean-Paul Gowdy has good reason to enter 2010-11 with much optimism.
"We have large senior classes, which is exciting in many regards," said Gowdy. "They've been here for three years, understand the routine and generally know what's coming next in terms of workouts. We've been getting a ton of leadership from our seniors. Being a training-based sport, it's encouraging to see such a high level, as it should lead to good things down the road."
Twenty-three athletes on the women's side, including 19 returners, are coming off a season in which they placed third at the 10-school New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship for the third straight year while going 8-5 in dual meets. The men's squad, which boasts a program-high 24 athletes, took fourth out of seven teams at last year's NEWMAC meet for the first time in four seasons. In dual action, the Lyons went 1-13.
Excited to work with larger rosters for a number of reasons, Gowdy points to depth and healthy competition as key factors for success. "We should no longer have to rely on the same people scoring at every meet," said the eighth-year head coach. "Plus, we now have athletes pushing each other every day. The more people we can get scoring at the end of the year the better we'll be. We are struggling to get people into events. That's a good problem to have."
Leading the women's team are senior co-captains Sara Hollar (La Crescenta, Calif./Flintridge Prep) and Alisha Wilson (Cumberland, Maine/Greely). They are joined by classmates Emma Chaiken (Bangor, Maine/Bangor), Kathleen Dwyer (Barrington, R.I./Barrington), Samantha Farrell (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial), Stephany Perkins (Monmouth, Maine/Monmouth Academy), Dania Piscetta (Belmont, N.H./Belmont) and Nicole Zais (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional).
Piscetta already owns the school mark for all-league placements with 11, which necessitates a first- or second-place finish in an event at the NEWMAC Championship, while Zais possesses 10. Perkins has garnered a pair of all-league accolades, and Farrell has one. As sophomores, the quartet brought home the program's first NCAA All-America honors.
The foursome's names are scattered throughout the record book, combining to either hold or play a hand in 15 marks. Piscetta and Zais are owners of five individual records each while swimming a leg in five relay standards. Perkins has a part in three relay marks and Farrell one.
Chaiken is one of two divers dotting the Lyon roster, joining junior Alexandra Wilson (Suffield, Conn./Suffield). Rounding out the Class of 2012 are Catherine Army (Pomfret, Conn./Pomfret), Taryn Brosnan (Westford, Mass./Academy of Notre Dame), Sarah Miller (Madison, N.J./Madison) and Tierney Richardson (North Attleboro, Mass./North Attleboro). A three-time all-conference honoree, Brosnan is a part of two program records.
The sophomore class consists of Dana Auger (Milford, Mass./Milford), Vanessa Fuchs (Paris, France/International School of Paris), Caroline Isaacs (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), Julia Kusiak Carey (Shawmut, Maine/Lawrence), Kirstie Parkinson (Singapore, Singapore/Singapore American School) and Elle Van Cott (Delmar, N.Y./Bethlehem Central). As a freshman, Isaacs broke a pair of school marks.
Newcomers to the team are freshmen Rachel Brown (Westport, Mass./Bishop Stang), Alisha Keezer (Biddeford Pool, Maine/Kennebunk), Nina Lanctot (Chatham, Mass./Home Schooled) and Adrianne Madden (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth).
On the men's side, seniors Corey Best (Brentwood, Tenn./Ravenwood) and Sam Dean-Lee (Rocky Hill, CT/Xavier) will captain the squad for the third straight season, joining first-time captain and junior Alex Hosey (Danville, Pa./Wyoming Seminary). Best and Dean-Lee hold three program records each, with Dean-Lee adding a fourth as part of a relay.
Rounding out the six-member senior class are Zach Fichman-Klein (North Attleboro, Mass./North Attleboro), Eddie Gillie (Haverhill, Mass./Saint John's Prep), diver Jonathan Gold (West Harrison, N.Y./Fordham Prep) and Ben Sabol (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Prep). Fichman-Klein has his name next to a pair of school marks, while Gold owns three of the program's four diving records. Like Dean-Lee, Gillie swam a leg on a top relay team.
In addition to Hosey, included in the junior class are Devon Best (Brentwood, Tenn./Ravenwood), Dylan Caldwell (Chapel Hill, N.C./Emerson Waldorf School), twins Spencer Deans (Redding, Conn./Joel Barlow) and Trevor Deans (Redding, Conn./Joel Barlow), Guive Rosen (Cambridge, Mass./Cambridge Rindge & Latin School) and Christian Woods (Claremont, Calif./Webb School of California). Devon Best holds a pair of school records.
The freshman class is comprised of Alex Garneau (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury), Sam Jackson (Darien, Conn./Darien), Emerson Jenkins (Kansas City, Mo./Pembroke Hill School), diver Charlie Maier (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional), Nick Oliveri (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury), Matt Sexton (Merrimack, N.H./Merrimack), Kyle Wilson (Cumberland, Maine/Greely), Chris Woods (Westfield, Mass./Westfield) and diver Taylor Wright-Sanson (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs).
Both teams open their season on Saturday by hosting Roger Williams University. As for conference championships, the women travel to Mount Holyoke College on February 18-20, while the men head to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the following weekend.