By China Wong, Contributing Writer
When the 2014-2015 women’s swimming and diving season kicked off this past Saturday with a meet against Vermont, the thought of a three-peat was quietly tucked in the back of the swimmers’ minds.
Coming off its second-consecutive America East championship, UNH looks to repeat success. With the addition of last season’s win, Josh Willman attained his sixth championship title as head coach. This will be his 22nd season as coach.
“We had a huge class graduate, with some big point scorers. It’s going to be a challenging year. We have a much smaller team. We approach each year as a new one, because it is; the team is different,” Willman said. “I had a thought that when the women came back to school for the first time, I would take all of the championship banners down just so they would walk in and see that every year you come in and start from scratch.”
This year the team is compiled of only 14 swimmers and three divers. Three swimmers to keep an eye on are seniors Katie Mann, Oneida Cooper and Kathryn Violette. After losing a leader in Lauren McCandless to graduation, coach Willman will look to Cooper and Violette for leadership roles in and out of the pool.
“Oneida and Catherine are doing a great job. They are very enthusiastic about the team and super responsible and are helping the freshman get acclimated and letting everyone know what they need to be doing,” explained Willman.
Cooper looks to have another great season in the 200- and 500-yard Freestyle and 200- and 400-yard Individual Medley. Kathryn Violette will help with the Butterfly.
Mann hopes to have another successful year, after coming off an impressive championship meet. She set a UNH and America East record for the 200 yard IM (1:58.78), as well as placing an impressive 19th-overall in the 400 IM at the NCAA meet. Mann will contribute to the IM’s and 200-yard Breaststroke.
“We have some of the best swimmers in the country here. I’m excited for the challenge that lies ahead,” associate head coach Jarrod Zwirko said. “We won our conference by 300 plus points last year and set a record. While we might not have the depth that we had last year, all we really need to do is win by one point.”
Willman encourages people to come out and watch the team during one of their home meets.
“The atmosphere is loud and exciting. You don’t necessarily have to understand swimming. You’re just watching people race, and it’s fun,” Willman said. “These girls work really hard, so it’s rewarding when people come and watch them race.”
UNH’s first home meet will be Saturday, Nov. 1, at 2 p.m. The Wildcats will be taking on Central Connecticut University in the Swasey indoor pool.