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Men’s Swimming & Diving 2017-18 Season Preview

Photo courtesy of Ronald Wimer P '19
Photo courtesy of Ronald Wimer P '19

2017-18 SEASON OUTLOOK

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Colder temperatures have finally reached the New England area, and that can only mean one thing: It is time for the winter sports season to get underway.

The Wesleyan University men's swimming & diving team has lofty goals this winter with 15 returning swimmers and a deep and well-rounded, six-person rookie class, as the Cardinals shattered seven program records during the 2016-17 year, and compiled six top-eight finishes at the 2017 NESCAC Championships.

< COACHES CORNER WITH PETER SOLOMON >

The Cardinals will open up their 2017-18 season on Saturday during a double dual meet against Bates and Trinity (Conn.) in Lewiston, Maine. The squad will then return to its comfortable surroundings for its home opener on Monday against Amherst.

One huge positive for Wesleyan is the fact that senior Ali Pourmaleki is returning for his final season with the program, as the standout swimmer compiled a runner-up finish in the 200-yard butterfly at the 2017 conference championships in Middletown, Conn., en route to earning All-Conference Team honors last February.

The group placed ninth overall during the conference championships last winter, and the team grabbed eighth-place honors on the stage in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, the 2017 Cardinals were recognized for their achievements in the classroom, as the unit earned College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Team honors last winter.

Wesleyan will be in good hands this season with senior captains Max Distler and Karl Ortegon guiding the team, but Wesleyan's entire season class has shown signs of leadership and have led by example during their academic and athletic careers. The other seniors on the team include Ethan Chupp, Peter Patapis, Pourmaleki, Spencer Tang, Robbie Webster and Aidan Winn. This dedicated group of seniors has already set the tone for this year's season with its infectious attitude and relentless work ethic. The unit's commitment to each other and the program sends the positive message to all the underclassmen as to what it means to be a member of this Wesleyan swimming & diving team.

"If I have learned anything in my 23 years as a head coach; it is that the best years are the ones when the senior leadership is in place," said sixth-year head coach Peter Solomon, who is an eight-time NESCAC Coach of the Year honoree. "Everything seems to fall into place when we have a dedicated and enthusiastic group of seniors like we have in The Class of 2018."

The unit also received a big boost with the return of junior Brandon Pearson – after one year away from the program – as he competed in the 1- and 3-meter diving events at the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships, finishing 14th (403.35) and 22nd overall (385.55), respectively, in Greensboro, N.C.

Wesleyan, which has two well-qualified assistant coaches in Devon O'Nalty and Ethan Cooke, will compete in the 2018 NESCAC Championships on Feb. 23-25 at Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine, and then the NCAA Zone Diving Qualifier will be held on March 2-3 in Middlebury, Vt. The 2018 NCAA Championships will occur on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, Ind.

MEET THE TEAM

  • Wesleyan's returning unit features the senior class, juniors Alex Kapphahn, Phon Leeswadtrakul and Max Wimer, and sophomores Alan Huh, Andrew Schwartz, Quinn Tucker and Qiyuan Zheng. The rookie class consists of Joel Groves, Garrett Kaufmann, Eric Lindheim-Marx, Nicolas Moran, Isaac Thorman and Phillip Wong.
  • Chupp showcased his immense potential at the conference championships last season, earning the fifth-best mark off the 1-meter board (378.30) and the seventh-best score in the 3-meter event (356.80). Kapphahn was also successful during the high-intensity meet, grabbing eighth-place accolades in the 100 butterfly (51.35) and ninth-place acknowledgement in the 50 backstroke (24.03).
  • Wesleyan also excelled during the relay events at the conference meet, as Tucker, Kapphahn, Pourmaleki and Tang worked as a cohesive unit during a seventh-place performance in the 200 freestyle relay and an eighth-place nod in the 400 freestyle relay. Additionally, Pourmaleki, Winn, Kapphahn and Tucker fought for a sixth-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay.
  • Distler grabbed 18th-place recognition within the conference ranks in the 200 butterfly (1:57.01), while Patapis suited up for the 1,650 freestyle (16:46.36) and the 1,000 freestyle (9:58.31). Huh competed in the preliminaries of the 50 breaststroke (28.84), the 100 breaststroke (1:03.31) and the 200 breaststroke (2:20.14), as he was the first Cardinal to touch the wall in all three events. Other strong performances came from Webster (2:04.05, 200 butterfly), Ortegon (29.56, preliminaries of 50 breaststroke), Leeswadtrakul (58.29, preliminaries of 100 backstroke), Schwartz (26.47, preliminaries of 50 butterfly), Wimer (1:46.71, preliminaries of 200 freestyle) and Zheng (29.19, preliminaries of 50 breaststroke).

HEAD COACH PETER SOLOMON

"I could not be more excited about this year's team. We have a very special group of seniors, who have played a major role in improving the team culture, as well as the program's recent climb in the NESCAC rankings. Needless to say, I will be savoring my time with this year's seniors as we look to build upon last year's successful season."