CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Boston University is picked to win its first America East Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship since 2002 by the preseason coaches’ poll. The Terriers narrowly slipped pass six-time reigning champion UMBC in the poll garnering three first-place votes and 15 points while UMBC received two first-place votes and 14 points.
Binghamton University placed third in the poll with 10 points followed by Stony Brook University (7) and University of Maine (4).
After a 2009 season where the Terriers went 10-0 in dual meets, Boston U. returns a very experienced squad adding only three freshmen to the roster for the 2010 season. The mature team is led by junior Matt Rickett (Portland, Maine/Deering) who received the Most Outstanding Swimmer award at the 2009 championship. Rickett won the 50-yard freestroke and won the 100-yard butterfly by setting the conference record. Rickett’s was the first Boston U. male swimmer to qualify for the NCAAs, in 100-yard butterfly, in 27 years. Adding strength to the squad along with Rickett is sophomore Jackson Hill (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) and junior Bryon Kallert (New Milford, N.J./New Milford). As a freshman, Hill won the 100-yard free and was a member of the 400 free relay, along with Rickett, sophomore Daniel Kempf (Austin, Texas/Lyndon Banies Johnson) and senior Arik Seiler (Portland, Maine/Deering), that broke both Boston U.’s and the conference’s record. Kallert won the 200-yard backstroke and broke both the school’s and the conference’s records. He also broke the school record in the 200-yard butterfly, besting a 21-year-old record by two seconds. The Terrier squad loses only one key player, diver Andre Watson, who claimed both the one and three-meter championship diving titles and set new conference records in both events last year.
UMBC looks to prove the coaches’ poll wrong and add a seventh year to their reign of the America East Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship. UMBC will depend on the leadership of junior Brad Reitz (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) who is the only returning Retriever to win an individual title at the 2009 championship. Reitz won the 200-yard butterfly championship title for the second-straight time last year. The Retrievers will also need the support of the returning two members of the gold medal 800-yard freestyle relay, junior Eric Jones (Gambrills, Md./Arundel) and junior Keilan Freeman (Calgary, Alberta, Canada/Argyll Centre). In 2009, the 800-yard freestyle relay team set a school, conference and Boston U. pool record. They will look to replace Justin Bronson and Evan Roseberry. Bronson claimed two individual freestyle titles last year. UMBC will add 13 freshmen to the roster including five freshmen who specialize in freestyle who could fill the gap left by Bronson’s graduation.
Coming in third at the past two championship events, Binghamton was voted to again finish third. The Bearcats return a young squad for the 2010 season, losing two individual record-holders to graduation. The team will be led by the only returning swimmer to earn a gold medal at last years championship meet, sophomore Nolan Slesnick (Austin, Texas/LBJ-LASA) who claimed the title in the 1650-yard freestyle. Sophomore Joe Perez-Rogers (Woodstock, N.Y./Woodstock) also claimed a medal last year coming in third in the 100-yard back. Perez-Rogers along with senior Philip Dzieniszewski (Queens, N.Y./Benjamin Cardozo) were also members of the 200 medley and 200 free relay teams that set new school records last year. The Bearcats will look to their 12 new freshmen to help them place higher than third at the 2010 championship meet.
The Seawolves return this season led by a strong group of juniors including Lukasz Ochmanski (Lodz, Poland/Kosciuszko Memorial), and captains Sean Clarke (Bellmore, N.Y./W.C. Mepham) and Nathan Fleshman (Monroe, Mich./Monroe). Ochmanski broke the school record by 17 seconds to take second at the championship in the 1650-yard freestyle. Fleshman placed ninth in the 1650 free race. Clarke is also a strong freestyle swimmer for Stony Brook, placing in the top-20 of five races at the 2009 championship.
Maine will lose only two student-athletes to graduation and returns a young, but more experienced squad. The Black Bears will be led by junior Jeremy Bender (St. Paul, Minn./Highland Park) who placed seventh in the 1650 freestyle and claimed the highest finish for a Maine swimmer on the weekend. Senior Kevin Staples (Mt. Desert, Maine/Mount Desert Island) will also be an asset to the squad after placing 12th last year in the men’s 200 backstroke.
The 2009 America East Conference Swimming & Diving Championships will be held on February 25-28 at the Boston University Aquatic Center in Boston.
2009 Preseason Poll Rank Team (1st-place votes) Total 1. Boston University (3) 15 2. UMBC (2) 14 3. Binghamton 10 4. Stony Brook 7 5. Maine