TOWSON, Md. — Out of all the individual points the Goucher men’s and women’s swim teams earned at last season’s Landmark Conference Championships, all but five of those points came from swimmers who will be back in the pool for the Gophers in 2014-15.
With so many significant returners, along with several freshmen on each squad who are expected to contribute right out of the gate, head coach Thomas Till believes both swim programs are capable of making significant strides this fall. Goucher will get its first opportunity to test itself against other competition at the Susquehanna Relay Carnival tomorrow afternoon.
“The training at this point as a team and across the board with some of the individuals has just been at a different level,” Till said. “There’s a great relationship between the men’s and women’s teams, and they both have an outstanding work ethic. It’s clear that they put in a lot of work in during the offseason, and that’s what’s going to make the difference.”
The men’s program remained in sixth place at last February’s conference meet, but the Gophers smashed nine school records at the event and claimed a pair of Landmark titles thanks to the performance of Morgan Richter (Cleburne, Texas/Cleburne) in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly. Richter broke school records at each distance, and he also established a new meet standard in the 200 fly while defending his title from 2012-13.
Richter will be back this fall for his junior season, and he will be joined by his brother Colin Richter (Cleburne, Texas/Cleburne) and sprint freestyle specialist Sam Davis (Wilmington, Del./Wilmington Friends). The three standouts accounted for all seven of the individual school marks which fell in February, and their work rate plays a big part in motivating the rest of the team.
“They provide great leadership for us,” Till remarked. “Their dedication creates a high set of expectations for everyone else to keep up with.”
Cody Nelson (Duanesburg, N.Y./Schalmont), who scored in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke last February, also returns for Goucher, which will have an additional 11 swimmers join the 10 who competed in 2013-14.
“It’s huge to have such a large incoming class,” Till said. “We clearly have a lot more depth than we’ve had in years past. I’m really excited what that will do for us in the dual meets particularly.”
Among the freshmen, Till expects immediate contributions from freestyler Dalton Delp (Summerville, S.C./Ashley Ridge), while Spencer Saunders (Cleburne, Texas/Cleburne) and Jerel McCord (Fort Wayne, Ind./South Side) are other names to watch this fall.
The men’s team received 26th points in this year’s Landmark preseason coaches’ poll, slotting the Gophers in at sixth place. They were only five points behind fourth place Scranton, however, and Till believes that there are no clear favorites among those projected to finish in the middle of the conference standings.
“I don’t think much separates third through sixth this year,” he said. “Quite honestly, I think diving points could be an influence at the conference level, but that won’t be as much as a factor during the dual season. I’m looking forward to seeing how we do head-to-head against some of these teams.”
Senior Nicole Craver (Spring Grove, Pa./Spring Grove Area), meanwhile, headlines the returners to the 2014-15 women’s squad. Craver earned Second-Team All-Landmark recognition last winter after her runner-up finish in the 400 individual medley, and she also placed fifth in the 200 IM. Till believes the versatile co-captain has an opportunity to break a school record in the upcoming season.
“Nicole certainly has the potential to break the 400 IM record,” he said. “That’s what she’s been training for, and it’s become a real passion for her.”
Five other returners join Craver this fall, including senior Kellyn Brower (Glen Ridge, N.J./Glen Ridge), who scored in both the 400 IM and 200 backstroke at last year’s Landmark meet. The team also welcomes six incoming freshmen to round out the roster.
“The numbers aren’t as big as the men’s team, but we’ve definitely made improvements in terms of the overall quality,” Till commented. “We have some big guns coming in that are really going to add a lot of strength to the women’s side.”
Two of the freshmen that Till expects to make a noticeable impact are breaststroker/sprint freestyler Kyanna Cadwallader (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) and distance freestyler Alexis Regopoulos (Fitchburg, Mass./North Middlesex Regional). With that duo joining Craver and the remainder of the Gophers, the longtime coach believes that this year’s roster has the nucleus in place to get out of last place in the Landmark.
“At the conference awards ceremonies, they have first through eighth place on the podium and the eighth place team is always on the floor,” Till concluded. “I want to get off the floor. The main goal for the women’s team this year is getting off the floor and seeing how far up the podium we can get.”