Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Pioneer swim teams looking to make big strokes in 2009-10 season

DU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams had historic seasons last year, but none of the student-athletes or coaches on the 2009-10 roster are using the strong showing as an excuse to tread water.

“We want to be known as one of the best programs in the West, if not in the country,” Coach Brian Schrader says. “In the past, DU has had nationally ranked programs in Division I, Division II and at the NAIA level. We want to be at those levels again and consistently.”

Schrader acknowledged the teams are rather young this season with 10 new men and 11 new women. However, he says, the teams have one of the best recruiting classes in recent history.

Last year, the men’s team claimed its first Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Championship. The team won eight events, broke 19 school records and set eight new conference records at the championship meet. Meanwhile, the women’s team placed second at the SBC Championships. The team broke 16 school records, set nine conference records and won 10 events overall at the championships. DU coaches also took home top honors: Schrader was named men’s swimming coach of the year, and head diving coach Erick Cook was named men’s diving coach of the year.

This year, the men’s team is looking to repeat its SBC Championship while the women seek their first championship. The teams would also like to place more swimmers in the NCAA championships. Two Pioneer swimmers qualified last year.

“Because the NCAA championships have a cap — a numbers limit (less than 250 swimmers), the qualifying process and level of depth makes it a harder event to qualify for than the Olympics … Making the U.S. Olympic Team is certainly harder (only two people per event), but making a final at the NCAAs means you are competing at that level, and against current U.S. and foreign Olympians who are with collegiate programs,” Schrader says.

Both teams also are looking to continue classroom success. Last year, they earned scholar All-American team honors from the Collegiate Swim Coaches Association of America. In addition to the team honor, 12 Pioneers earned individual awards.

“It is truly what we are trying to do here in Denver — be great in the classroom and fast in the pool,” Schrader says. “Having both teams in the top-10 of all swimming and diving teams academically in Division I is what we are striving for every year.”
Denver opens up the regular season at noon Oct. 10 as host of the Denver Relays in the El Pomar Natatorium.

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