POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - The Marist Swimming & Diving program enters its 2012-13 season looking to keep pace with its successful 2011-12 season. The women's squad went a school-record 11-1 in regular season action before capping the year with its 13th Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. The Red Foxes finished with 813.50 total points, 156 ahead of the second Rider team, while the men's squad missed out on second place by a heart-breaking margin of 2.50 points to Canisius. The quest for the 32nd combined championship in program history begins with a home meet versus Canisius on this Saturday, Oct. 20 at 12 p.m.
Head Coach Larry VanWagner, in his 37th season in charge of the Marist aquatics program envisions both of his squads fighting for conference supremacy when the championships in February roll around.
Two-time MAAC Swimmer of the Year Kate Conard (East Setauket, N.Y.) is back for her senior season as she looks to lead the women's team to its fourth consecutive conference title. A 17-time MAAC Champion and holder of four Marist all-time individual fastest times, Conard completed her 2011-12 season with Marist's first individual ECAC swimming title since 2009, as she claimed first place in the 500-yd freestyle.
Erica Vitale (Sterling, Conn.) and Katie Larkin (Huntington, N.Y.) join Conard as swimmers, whom VanWagner has high expectations for from his senior class. Vitale earned three top eight finishes in her first MAAC Championship as a Red Fox, while Larkin, a two-time MAAC Champion, returns to active competition after taking the 2011-12 season off.
Juniors Emily Miles (Long Valley, N.J.), Maddie Arciello (Missoula, Mont.), Bonnie Orr (Fresno, Calif.) and Sarah Wagner (Rockaway, N.J.) comprise a quartet of record holders and MAAC Champions that will look to continue the strong starts to their Red Fox careers. Miles, is a two-time conference in the 100-yd butterfly, while Arciello (50- and 100-free), Wagner (50- and 100-back) and Orr (800-free relay) find themselves a top the Marist record books.
In men's swimming action, VanWagner feels that the maturation of last year's strong underclass, as well as a seven-man senior class will have the Red Foxes in the hunt for a title at February's MAAC Championship.
Sophomore Jason Ruddy (Lake Katrine, N.Y.) leads a quartet of second-year athletes, who shined at the 2012 MAAC Championship. In his first conference, Ruddy won the 200-yd butterfly title with a school record time of 1:49.40. He augmented that performance with a second in the 100-yd butterfly and a sixth in the 200-yd IM.
The other up-and-coming sophomores, who found success this past February include: Bill Drennen (Collegeville, Pa.), who finished second in the 1000-yd freestyle along with two other top six finishes, Dylan Cummings (Midland Park, N.J.), who earned two fourths and a fifth place finish and John Spitzer (Fairport, N.Y.), who took two top four finishes in sprint freestyle events.
Junior Nick Spinella (Franklin Square, N.Y.) joins Ruddy as returning MAAC title holders as he is a 2011 200-yd backstroke champion. At the 2012 championships, he earned runner-up finishes in both the 100-and 200-yd events.
In board events, Associate Head Coach Melanie Bolstad begins her 22nd season with the Marist diving program. She returns all five divers from a successful 2011-12 campaign, including sophomore Kimberly Tobias (San Jose, Calif.) and junior Sean Molloy (Slingerlands, N.Y.), who combined to win eight MAAC Diver of the Week awards last season. Both divers capped their season by qualifying for and competing in the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships in March.
Fellow returning divers: senior Chelaine Eliazar (Honolulu, Hawaii), junior Lauren Weiner (Feeding Hills, Mass.) and sophomore Jacob Baker (Shavertown, Pa.) all earned top four standings at the 2012 MAAC Championships as Eliazar finished second in the 1-meter and third in the 3-meter, while Weiner was fourth in the 3-meter board and Baker took third place in the men's 1-meter competition.
The teams commence their 2012-13 season on Saturday, Oct. 20 with Canisius and conclude their five month schedule of competition with the MAAC Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. on Feb. 14 through Feb. 16 and the ECAC Championship in Cambridge, Mass. the weekend of March 1 through March 3.