Last season was a rebuilding year for the men’s squad as they coped with losing 13 seniors. With such a young team it was a challenge to match the season the men had the year before. A disappointing last place finish in the ACC has made this year’s men’s squad hungry to prove what they are made of.
“Last year we lost about 13 guys but we were able to bring in a top 25 recruiting class. We knew it would be tough to replace those guys no matter what. When you bring in a 17 year old freshman male, they are not going to be able to compete against a 21/22 year old veteran. We were not happy with our ninth place finish, but on a positive note that top 25 class is one year older, one year more mature, and a lot stronger.”
With the loss of only four seniors from the 2008-09 squad, the men should find themselves in very good shape for the 2009-10 season. Even though Clemson did not get a large recruiting class this year, Head Swimming and Diving Coach Lance Asti did a great job of finding guys that would fill the holes we needed to fill,” said Ip. “They are a small class but it is elite and I am excited with what we are going to do this year with that team.”
They have brought in one of the top sprint freestyle recruits in Eric Bruck who was an Olympic qualifier and is the Kentucky state record holder in the 50 freestyle. Also coming in will be Andrew Abeysinghe, who has seen national cuts in several events and will help in events that were weaker last year, Alex Morres, a breast stroke specialist and Marcus Elliot, who will help in the sprint fly and freestyle events.
Ip is also optimistic that last years top 25 recruiting class will come into their own now that they have a year of collegiate experience under their belt. “Those guys got to see a lot of action as freshman so that opportunity will pay off for the men as they are much more experienced than other freshman around the league,” says Ip
This season will bring plenty of opportunity for the men as they work to improve on last season’s finish. “After last year they are hungry. Sometimes it is a wake-up call when you drop down in the conference and don’t meet your expectations and goals. I think they are very competitive, there has been good banter going on all summer long. They don’t want to be at the bottom of the conference again. We have the capability to move up and I know these guys want it.”
Now that the men’s team has more experience on their side they will look to improve upon their ninth place finish last season. Ip and his team have set themselves up for a season with a lot of potential.
FREESTYLE The sprint freestyle events were greatly affected by the loss of the 2007-08 senior class, however now that last year’s freshman have experience on their side this event could be a strength for the Tigers. Returning will be sophomores Myles Oliver, Seth Broster, and Chris Reinke who all scored for the Tigers last season. Both Oliver and Broster cracked Clemson’s All-time top 10 in the 50 last season. Oliver is currently eighth and Broster is ninth. Also being added to the 50 freestyle mix will be highly touted freshman Eric Bruck who is coming in as the fastest sprint recruit in the ACC. His best time in the 50 would have given him a top 16 place last season in the ACC Championships. The same men from the 50 will compete in the 100 with the addition of sophomore Chris Dart who had an exceptional season last year for the Tigers. Broster was able put up a top 16 time in the 100 last season as a freshman and his time ranks fifth in Clemson history.
The 200 is an event that will need some work as the men’s squad lost their two best performers in Brian Possee and Dan Mengering who were both ranked in the top 10 All-time at Clemson. The Tigers are relying heavily on junior David Gordon to come back healthy and prepared so that he can lead the group in that event. Helping him out will be sophomores Scott Clary and Lee Groseclose.
The distance freestyle events will primarily be lead by upperclassmen David Gordon, Will Clark, and Alex Carr. Each of these guys had exposure in the ACC’s last season and that will help them to understand the competition they are up against. Gordon and Clark both rank in the top 10 at Clemson with Gordon fifth and Clark seventh. Gordon also finds himself in the top 10 All-time at Clemson in the 1000 and 1650 free, and Clark has made his way into the top 10 in the 1650 as well.
BACKSTROKE The backstroke will be a strong event for the men’s squad as they are returning Tom Recko, who was the runner-up in last years ACC Championships in the 200 backstroke. Recko is first in Clemson history in both the 100 and 200 backstroke. Behind him will be Jason Chatlosh.
The 200 back will be a similar line-up as the 100 with Recko putting in a top eight time, and Dart top 16. Dart is currently third in the 200 at Clemson and Chatlosh is eighth. Abeysinghe’s best time in the 200 would rank him in the top 10 at Clemson as well.
BREASTSTROKE The breaststroke will suffer with the loss of senior Eric Lane. Lane holds the Clemson record for the 100 breaststroke. However, right behind him in second is junior Kyle Shoemaker who competed at the World Trials over the summer in this event. “Kyle is going to be one of those guys that has been under the radar in the past,” says Ip. “He is absolutely having a breakout year. He went to World Trials and dropped his time and his confidence is really starting to grow.” Helping him out will be freshman Alex Morres whose best time in the 200 breast would put him eighth all-time in Clemson history. “The breaststroke core may be small, but they are full of talent,” says Ip.
BUTTERFLY The butterfly events will be led by the veterans. Returning in the 100 fly will be top 16 performers David Gordon (2nd), Joe Knecht (3rd), and Matt Angelini (6th). All three also had top 16 times last season at the ACC Championships.
INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY Both medleys will be led by senior Matt Angelini who ranks fifth at Clemson in the 200 and second in the 400. He also posted a top 16 time in the 400 last season at the ACC Championships. He will be aided by sophomore Chris Dart and junior Joe Knecht in both of the medley events. Dart swam a tenth best time at Clemson with a 1:50.74 in the 200 IM. Clemson will add freshman Andrew Abeysinghe to the mix as well.
DIVING Diving Coach David Giambra. Giambra is the school record holder in both one-meter and three-meter diving events and he is coming off an extremely successful season where he tallied zone scores in both events.
“David has been diving all summer and just came off a very successful junior year,” says Hasselbach. “He is ready to finish his career here in style.” Giambra has set himself up to become one of the greatest divers at Clemson and could really improve upon that status during his senior season.
Giambra will have help from freshman Pat Chamberlain who will be filling the spot left by senior Ryan McDaniel who graduated after last season. Chamberlain will look to make an impact right away.
“Pat Chamberlain had a great summer of training and competing in US Diving meets. He is coming in ready to make an impact during his freshman year.”
The men’s squad may be small, but there is a lot of talent there. David Giambra has already broken all of the Clemson diving records and will likely continue to prove his talent during the 2009-10 season.
“I am excited for the men’s diving team to achieve greatness during the 2009-10 season. They have a lot of potential and it will be fun to watch them,” says Hasselbach.
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