Lions ready to dive into new season

It’s 8 a.m. and while most students are still asleep, the swimming and diving team members are preparing for practice as their upcoming season approaches.

With the return of seven All-American swimmers for the men’s team, six NCAA qualifiers for the women’s team and a great incoming recruit class, the Lions have high expectations for the 2007-2008 season.

“I am very excited for this season,” women’s head coach Jennifer Harnett said. “We have a very talented team.” This season marks Harnett’s seventh year as head coach for the women’s team.

Despite an overall record of 2-8, the women’s team had a successful 2006-2007 season. As a team, they were runners-up at the 2007 Metropolitan (METS) Conference Championships behind Division III Southern Connecticut State University.

The College was ranked as the No. 1 Division III team at the 2007 METS. In December 2006, the team took third place at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships.

Six swimmers and one diver qualified for the 2007 NCAA Division III Championships, including senior Ava Kiss who earned All-America honors in the 100-meter butterfly and broke the record for the 200-meter butterfly.

Junior Emily Reichard, the 2005-2006 Rookie of the Year, added her name to the record book for the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke events.

Led by captains junior Stacy Delehanty and seniors Liz LaCava and Kristin Udicious, the Lions are working to recapture the METS Championship and make the top 15 at the NCAA Division III Championships.

Facing fierce competition from top DII and DIII teams, the Lions are working to improve performance through physical and mental preparation.

“We are off to a great start already and are focusing more on our mental attitudes heading into our meets this year,” Delehanty said. “Our mental preparation for each meet will end up really paying off for our big meets later on in the season.”

The men’s team’s head coach, Brian Bishop, is equally excited for the start of the season.

“We have great upperclass leadership and a strong freshman class this year,” Bishop said.

This is Bishop’s 19th year as coach for the men’s swimming and diving program.

During the 2006-2007 season, the men’s team earned national recognition by producing seven All-Americans and breaking two school records.

After finishing second from 2003 to 2006, the team earned its 10th title as METS Conference Champions in 2007. It finished second at the ECAC Invitational behind New York University.

At the NCAA Division III Championships, seven male swimmers earned All-America citations in six events.

The Lions placed 16th in the race for the team NCAA Division III title and finished the 2006-2007 season with an overall record of 6-3.

Captains junior Mike Heaney and seniors Josh Forsman and Liam Gallagher have many goals for the upcoming season.

“My expectations for the season are to help lead the team to another conference championship and back to the NCAA Championships to score in the top 10,” Gallagher said.

“The first meet will be a personal test to see where we’re at,” Bishop said. “It’s all about what it says on the stopwatch.”

On October 19th, the Lions will compete in their first meet against Montclair State University at 5 p.m.