The Keene State College men’s swim team opened up their 2015 campaign in a period of change, where they look to prove that they are more than their numbers. With the departure of former Head Coach Jack Fabian, along with swimmers transferring, the team lacks some depth on their roster in certain events and will have to work hard under Interim Head Coach Chris Woolridge and first year Assistant Coach Diana Pimer.
The team opened up against Roger Williams on October 31, when the Owls were able to win the meet. Following the win was a meets against Boston College on November 6, and an Invitational at WPI on November 7.
At the helm, Woolridge described his coaching style as “fairly tough” and said he tries to push his team while still having fun and keeping it loose within the framework of the team.
In this transitional period, Woolridge said, “They [the team] have really embraced the fact that they are a smaller team and that means they’re going to be a tighter team, and they’re just going to have to really work well together and basically do whatever it takes.”
Assistant Coach Diana Pimer said, “We just have to focus on what we do have and not worry about people that we may have lost.” She continued, “The men that we do have really have a lot of potential, and they can still get to the NCAA meet and win conference.”
One of the strengths of the Owls swim team is their veteran presence, as the Owls go into their 2015 season with ten seniors. One of those seniors is Logan Duffley, a freestyle sprint swimmer with high expectations for his senior season.
“We [the seniors] feel like there’s a lot of pressure on our shoulders that we have to perform and carry the weight of, not the entire team, but it’s [this season] kind of that moment where it’s senior year so you basically have to put up or shut up,” Duffley said.
He continued, “I think we’re going to do very good actually. We have a whole bunch of people who are starting to step up in way that they never have before.”
Saturday the Owls had a tall task against the Division 1 Boston College Eagles.
Woolridge said, “It’s actually a great opportunity for us. I think that when we approach this meet the mentality is really an opportunity to compete against really good competition.”
“A team like Boston College, they have great depth,” Woolridge said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t swim up and have good races.”
Pimer shared a similar optimism toward the intimidating challenge of BC. Pimer said she stressed to her swimmers to “Just race and not give up before the race starts. We can hang with them and we have a chance at winning a couple of events.”
Following that meet, the Owls have the New England Invitational at WPI. With the event not being scored, Pimer said the invitational is an important event, but also a relaxed event where she wants their swimmers to have fun and do their best.
The invitational will be a good opportunity for the Owls to test out different swimmers in different, off-stroke events. Since the KSC team lacks numbers, they will have to display versatility to achieve success.
To prepare his swimmers for events they don’t specialize in, Woolridge said, “We give them a little bit more training in that stroke, and we just try and work on some of the strengths like under water kicking that transfers between butterfly, back-stroke and freestyle, to give them some confidence in an off-stroke.”
For both the men’s and women’s teams’ goals for this season, both Woolridge and Pimer said they want to win the LEC conference and are confident they can send not only individual swimmers to nationals, but can send a relay team to nationals as well.
“I think focusing on the relays kind of helps pull the team together because it’s not one guy or girl…it’s much more of a team effort to try and get a relay to that high level,” Woolridge said
Ahead of them, the KSC men’s and women’s teams will meet with Springfield and Wheaton at Wheaton College on November 21.
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