It's time for the Washington and Lee head coach Kami Gardner's men's swimming team to get back in the water as they head into the 2013-14 season. Last season, the men finished sixth at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference championships with a score of 251 points. This year the Generals will attempt to win their program's fifth BMC title and it's first since 2007.
Senior captains Matt Hesser (Midlothian, Va./Governor's School), Giovanni Marciano (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) and Eric Shuman (Black Mountain, N.C./Asheville Christian Academy) are excited to lead the team to success this year. The team features 10 returners, including four seniors, one junior and five sophomores. The 11 first-year swimmers have also looked impressive, effectively proving their ability to hang with the upperclassmen.
Marciano will lead the IM swimmers along with first-years Trenton Babcock (Belmont, Mich./Rockford) and Thomas Ferguson (Midlothian, Va./Trinity Episcopal).
Last season, Marciano was a member of the 200-medley relay squad that took second place against Catholic and Marymount and at the Randolph-Macon Invite.
Babcock earned four varsity letters in swimming in high school where led the swim team to four conference championships and a state runner-up title in 2012. He was a three-time all-conference honoree and was named all state. Ferguson also earned four varsity letters where he was team captain as a senior. He was a NCSA junior national qualifier in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was named MVP his junior and senior campaigns. Ferguson was also the conference champion in the 200 IM as a junior and senior.
"Ferguson should make an impression in both the fly and IM events," said Gardner. "His current time sits right on top of our current school record in the 200 fly."
The Generals lose its top sprint freestyle participant from a year ago in Rick Sykes, but welcomes first-years Jake Burns (Greensboro, N.C./Greensboro Day) and John Womack (Glendale, Ariz.).
The mid-distance freestyle will also be swum by first-years Andrew Botelho (Huntersville, N.C./William Amos Hough) and Cole Schott (Nashville, Tenn./Hume-Fogg Academic). In high school, Botelho earned four letters in swimming and helped lead the team to four conference championships and three regional titles. He was named all-American in the 4x100 relay and also had a Top 8 finish at the 2012 State Championship. Schott was also a four-year varsity letterwinner in high school and was a finalist at the state championships.
Gardner welcomes back three returners for the distance free event in Shuman and sophomores William Fries (Kirkwood, Mo./Kirkwood) and Alex Fox (Winston Salem, N.C./RJ Reynolds).
Last season, Fries was named all-conference after placing fifth in the 1000 free (9:47.22) at Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships. Shuman recorded the team's top time in the 1650 free (17:06.25) at the conference meet last season, while Fox picked up a second place finish in the 1000 free (10:13.44) in the meet against Centre and Depauw.
First-years James Hayes (Chattanooga, Tenn./McCallie School) and Nelson Helm (Salem, Va./Salem) will look to make an immediate impact in the distance category.
In high school, Hayes placed 12th in the 1650 free in the 2013 Southeastern Swimming LSC Championship and also placed 16th in the 500 free in the 2013 Tennessee State High School Championship. He was named most improved swimmer in 2010 and was a two-time recipient of the George Wellborn Dedication award. Helm was a four-time letterwinner and was a four-time state qualifiers and four-time state finalist during his career.
"The distance events will be strong events for us this year," noted Gardner. "Fox and Shuman will lead a talented group of first years in Hayes and Helm."
Hesser will look to improve from last season and build upon his success in the butterfly event. He highlighted last season with a second place finish in the 100 fly (54.63) against VMI and second place in the 200 fly (2:00.57) in the quad-meet at Carnegie Mellon.
"I look for Matt Hesser to have a huge season this year," stated Gardner. "He broke through in a few events last year and is looking to take his swimming to the next level. He will be a force in both the backstroke and sprint fly events for us."
Fellow senior David Ireland (Dayton, Ohio/Oakwood) who competed at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships where he finished 11th in the 200 breast (2:07.43) and was a part of the 200 medley relay (1:32.41) and 400 medley relay (3:24.21) squads that finished fifth along Shuman, Ferguson, Marciano and Womack will also look to compete in the butterfly.
Junior Alex Cram (Columbia, S.C./Irmo) will be joined by first-year Alexander Kirven (Davidson, N.C./William Amos Hough) and Hesser in the backstroke.
Last season, Cram swam in nine meets during his sophomore season. He highlighted the year with a second place finish in the 200 back (2:01.36) against VMI and placed third in the 100 back in a time of 55.43 at the Randolph-Macon Invitational.
Kirven was a four-year letterwinner in high school and helped lead his team to a regional title during his career.
Ireland will lead the young group of Babcock, Botelho, Christopher Myers (Essex, Conn./Valley Regional) and Harrison Westgarth (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) in the breaststroke event.
We are exceptionally deep in the breaststroke events this year," noted Gardner. "With his renewed work ethic I expect Ireland to take the lead in the 200 event. Botelho, Myers and Babcock along with Ireland will certainly be a force to reckon with in the sprint breaststroke event."
In high school, Myers earned two letters in swimming at Valley Regional High School where he helped lead the team to a state open qualifier. He was named all state in the 200 free and the 100 breast in 2013. Westgarth enters the season after being named best newcomer summer and most valuable swimmer in high school. He was a member of the record-breaking medley relay team and was named first-team all-district and all-region as well as honorable mention all state.
Washington and Lee swimming will kick off the season with a home meet on October 12th against Centre, who won the inaugural Southern Athletic Association Championship meet least season.
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