Young squad could lead Colonials to fresh start

Last weekend’s Potomac Relays marked the start of the season for the GW men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Despite uninspiring results, the team remains optimistic about the future.

The young teams took last of four and third of five in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively. The meet, which consisted of just relays rather than the normal format of individual events and relays, allowed the swimmers to focus on teamwork instead of individual performance. For a squad filled with freshmen, the meet was a chance to see where the team stands.

“We did about what I expected a team that had only been in the water for three and a half weeks (to do),” coach Dan Rhinehart said of the meet at American. “(We) pretty much came away with knowing we still have a lot of work to do. It wasn’t something we’re going to base the entire season on.”

Notably absent from the meet was junior David Zenk, who set two Atlantic 10 records last year in the 200 and 400 individual medleys. Zenk, who is also on GW’s water polo team, was in California playing for the Colonials. Zenk said his goal for this season is to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the two events, an attainable feat for the former A-10 Rookie of the Year.

Senior Mark DeSimone, who took third in the 300-yard breaststroke relay along with junior Tom Pullen and freshman Andrew Maguire, said that Zenk’s absence, along with the influx of new swimmers, explains the men’s team’s average start.

The women’s team is also not discouraged by the results.

“We were up against some pretty strong teams, and what was important was that we fought hard in each race and did the best we could,” junior Lauren Fuchs said. “I don’t think anyone was too worried about the final score.”

Despite well-seasoned swimmers like Zenk and junior Ariana Berdini for the women’s team returning to the pool this season, both squads consist primarily of freshmen, with six on the men’s side and seven for the women.

Fuchs, who took first in the 300-yard breaststroke relay along with Berdini and freshman Lesley Pringle, said she has no worries about the new swimmers stepping up.

“The swim team is a very close-knit group, and the new members fit right in,” Fuchs said in an e-mail. “This group of freshmen brings lots of positive energy as well as a great deal of talent, and I think they will have a lot to contribute to this team.”

Senior Drew Boudreau said he hopes to see the team back in the top four in the A-10 this year. Team dynamics and up-and-coming freshmen such as Maguire will help to make this possible.

“The whole team meshes really well, which is key for a team that spends 30 hours a week together,” Boudreau said. “The freshmen are doing a great job; they’re stepping up when we need them to.”

Unlike most swimmers, with whom individual times are the focus of season, the Colonials’ ultimate goal resides in the A-10 Championships, held in February. However, Rhinehart will not offer any concrete predictions.

“It’s hard to say (how we’ll do),” he said. “Hopefully we’ll do a little better than last year.”

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