September 25, 1998
CLEMSON, S.C. – The Clemson men’s swimming and diving team enters the 1998-99 season looking to build on the foundation it laid last year. Last season’s team broke five Clemson records, three individual and two relay marks. In all there are 12 men returning who are ranked in the Clemson All-Time Top-10.
“We’ve got high expectations that the men’s team will move in a very positive direction this season,” said head coach Bruce Marchionda. “We have nine new swimmers that should have an immediate impact on the program. This is our strongest recruiting class since I’ve taken over as head coach.”
“We have a very strong nucleus of returning swimmers that will provide the leadership that we need,” said Marchionda. “This is probably the best team we’ve had in the men’s program.”
Two veterans return to lead the Tigers in the sprint freestyle events. Sophomore Razvan Petcu holds Tiger records in both the 50 free (20.11) and the 100 free (43.82). Last season he became the first Clemson swimmer to compete in three events at the NCAA Championship meet since 1988. At the national meet, Petcu posted a 20.28 in the 50 free and a 48.73 in the 100 free. Junior Mike Pridemore holds the fifth-fastest 50 free time in Clemson history (20.53). He competed in the Senior National Championships in California this summer. “These two veterans will lead a new, incoming class of sprinters that have the potential to be one of the best sprint groups at the ACC Championships,” said Marchionda.
Newcomers Alexandru Ioanovici, who represented Romania in the 1996 Olympics, Brett Walker and Matt Stone will complete the Clemson lineup for the sprint freestyle events.
Two seniors will lead the way in the middle distance and distance events. Matt Maurer holds the ninth-best time in the 500 free at 4:30.17. He ranks third all-time in the 1000 free (9:18.16) and fourth in the 1650 free (15:28.58). Will York ranks tenth in Clemson history in both the 500 free (4:30.51) and the 1000 free (9:27.82). He is eighth on Clemson’s all-time list in the 1650 with a time of 15:43.21. Sophomores Andrew Gessert and Will Rogers, along with freshmen Kenny Roberts, who represented Seychelles in the 1996 Olympics, Andy Meek and Brad Wickard will compete in the middle distance events. Freshman Matt Stone will compete in the distance events.
Clemson returns a strong squad of butterfly swimmers from last season’s team. Sophomore Razvan Petcu holds the Tiger record in the 100 fly, qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet with a time of 47.99. Junior Mike Pridemore is seventh on Clemson’s all-time list for the 100 fly with a time of 49.98, and junior Wes Morrow ranks tenth in the 200 fly (1:51.05).
“Newcomers Kenny Roberts and Matt Stone have already posted times that are among the top-10 times in Clemson’s history,” said Marchionda.
While Marchionda admits the breaststroke may have been one of Clemson’s weakest events last year, he believes it could be one of the team’s strongest events this year. Sophomore Alejandro Dubreuil holds the tenth-fastest time in Clemson history in the 100 breaststroke, after posting a time of 57.68 as a freshman. Freshman Matt Wilson has the potential to post top-10 times in the 200, while freshman Brett Walker could break into Clemson’s all-time top-10 in the 100. Marchionda expects freshman Sean Wallace to gain spots in the Clemson record books in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
“With these three newcomers, breaststroke should be a very strong event for us, and a very deep event for us,” he said.
Three upperclassmen will compete in the backstroke for the Tigers. Sophomore Tim Collis has the third-best time in Clemson history in the 100 back (50.06) and the second-best time in the 200 back (1:49.03), while junior Adam Porter ranks fourth in the 100 at 50.49 and seventh in the 200 at 1:50.74. Junior Rob Ethridge is ninth among Clemson’s top-10 swimmers in the 100 back with a time of 51.60. Freshman Matt Wilson will complete the backstroke lineup for the Tigers.
In the individual medley, Marchionda expects junior Wes Morrow to continue his improvement from last year and hopes sophomore Alejandro Dubreuil will continue to develop as a threat for the Tigers. Freshmen Matt Wilson, who Marchionda believes has the ability to break the Clemson record in the 200 and 400 IM, and Sean Wallace will fill the remaining positions in the IM events.
Clemson’s depth is the key factor in record-setting relay times. Last season the team set new school records in the 200 medley and the 400 medley relays.
“This year we’re looking to break even more records,” said Marchionda. “We’ve been able to improve our depth on the men’s team. The veterans of last year, combined with the talents of the incoming freshman class, provide a great foundation for record-setting relays this season.”
The return of sophomore Jeff Thomas, who was injured last year, should add to Clemson’s depth in the diving events. “Sophomore Andy Garrett did an outstanding job as a freshman and continues to improve,” said Marchionda.
Clemson’s schedule is loaded with very strong competitors, including many teams that will be ranked in the nation’s top-25. The Tigers will open the season at Virginia before facing two teams that are new to the schedule, Virginia Tech and Penn State. Clemson will also compete against most of the ACC teams during the regular season, a good challenge for the team, according to Marchionda. “We are looking forward to the new challenges,” he said. “Hopefully, we will come out with a winning record and experience that will enable us to grow and become a better team. I feel like legitimately, for the first time, the men’s program is a contender for the top three spots in the ACC Championships.”
“The conference as a whole has been getting much stronger over the years,” said Marchionda. “We’re getting national champions out of the conference, which will enable us as a conference to attract the best swimmers in the country and the best swimmers in the world. This makes it fun, not only from a competitive standpoint, but also because when you swim against the best teams in the country, you improve. We feel like we are one of the teams that will continue to improve and start moving up to the national rankings.”
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