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2009-10 Women’s Swimming and Diving Outlook

Head Swimming and Diving Coach Christopher Ip will have a much different feel with the 2009-10 women’s team than he did with last year’s squad. Last season Ip knew exactly what he was getting from the women, but with the loss of 12 seniors, this season looks to be one of transition for the Tigers.

Ip will depend on senior captains Alex Allen, Katrina Obas, and Carmen Groenewoud to step up and assume the leadership roles on this team which will have 12 freshmen coming in to work with. Ip, along with Recruiting Coordinator Lance Asti, were able to bring in a top recruiting class to help ease the transition.

“We were able to combat the loss of so many seniors by bringing in a top 25 ranked freshman class that has a dozen women coming in. Transition wise, we are confident that with our leadership these women can quickly step it up to the collegiate level and ACC level of excellence.”

Ip hopes that this incoming class can make an impact immediately, and will call upon them to fill the roles left by the 08-09 senior class. This freshman class is a very promising group with two top 100 recruits in Sarah Andrews and Tori Cervone. However, the upperclassmen will be relied on heavily to take the new class under their wings and prepare them for ACC athletics as quickly as possible.

“This young class coming in has the potential to fill a lot of the shoes that we lost, but it will be really hard to know until we see after the first couple of weeks. We are very excited about taking it to the next level with this new group.”

Ip is very optimistic about the upcoming season because of the great chemistry that will come with this group. There are no strokes that are lacking in talent and as the freshman mature throughout the season the Clemson women could be a force to reckon with.

“We have great leaders and I think they know they have to spread the wealth this year. They know every female counts, and I believe they have gotten tighter because that senior group can’t just come in and do everything for them. Everybody has to do their job.”

The women will have their work cut out for them, but with this talented group of freshmen and great leadership this team is ready for the challenge.

FREESTYLE Both the sprint and distance freestyle events are taking a hit with the loss of the 2008-09 senior class. Rachel Regone graduated as the record holder in the 50 freestyle and was the top performer for Clemson in the 100 freestyle. Senior and co-captain Alex Allen will be the most formidable threat at the 50 free with her best time being third in Clemson history. She was also a member of the Honorable Mention All-American 200 freestyle relay team from last season. Behind Allen will be three freshmen; Heather Savage, who have the potential to be strong in the sprint events.

In the mid-distance freestyle, the Tigers will try to replace two-time defending ACC Champion Michelle Parkhurst with a corps of talented freestylers. Parkhurst is also the school record holder as well as the ACC record holder in the 200 free. Sophomore transfer Amelia Messegee will step in right away in the 100, 200, and 500 events. Mixed in with Messege will be freshmen Rachel Hesler and senior Joanna Rakoczy.

The distance freestyle will also be missing its top performer from last season in Sarah Andrews who was an Olympic Trial participant and can swim distance as well as sprint events. She will be called upon mainly during the dual meet season for the distance events.

BACKSTROKE The 2007-08 ACC Champion and school record holder in the 100 backstroke Sarah Andrews, who will provide more depth for Clemson than they have ever had in these events. Andrews’ best time in the 200 backstroke would have placed in the top 16 at ACCs last season.

BREASTSTROKE Senior co-captain Katrina Obas will take the helm for breaststroke as she holds Clemson’s top time in both the 100 and 200 events. Obas put up a top eight time in the 100 breast and was an ACC Finalist and a top 16 in the 200 last season. Following behind her will be junior Carmen Groenewoud will also be a valuable contributor in both events. Clemson will rely mostly on their veterans for the breaststroke events, but freshmen Laura Browning and Garrison Stevens will add some depth for the Tigers.

BUTTERFLY The 100 butterfly could be very strong for the Tigers as they are returning four swimmers ranked in the top 10 in Clemson history. Heather Savage, Kelsey Krauss, Kristen Redmond, and Kelly McGee in the butterfly events.

The biggest hope for the Tigers will be sophomore Maddie Tarantolo. If she can have a breakout year, Clemson will have a very strong nucleus of flyers, as she was an Olympic Trial participant last year. With a year of experience under her belt, the staff believes she can come into her own this season.

INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY Senior Katrina Obas returns as the leader in the 200 IM from a season ago. She will have help from fellow senior and co-captain Carmen Groenewoud, as well as Sarah Andrews and Tori Cervone will show their versatility for the freshmen. Cervone is coming in with a best time of 4:19.20 in the 400 IM and that would have put her eighth at the ACC Championships.

DIVING The Clemson Women’s Diving team will return a lot of experienced student-athletes for the 2009-10 season. The team lost senior Ali Zacker and is ready for the upcoming season. Diving Coach Leslie Hasselbach is looking forward to a lot of success with the return of so much experience and skill.

“We have three competitive divers returning. Stephanie Fura is healthy and ready to compete in her final year here. We are also returning Brooke George and Cassie Self, who had great freshmen seasons and I expect great success out of both of them during their sophomore year. We are also bringing in freshman Elizabeth Tatum, who has been training hard over the summer and competed in several US Diving meets.”

Fura is coming back as the school record holder in the three-meter diving and is fourth at Clemson in one-meter Diving. Sophomores Cassie Self and Brooke George both put up zone scores in one-meter Diving and Self also posted a zone score on three-meter last season. George put up scores that placed her second at Clemson in one-meter diving and fifth in the three-meter, while Self’s top scores put her sixth and fourth respectively.

Head Coach Leslie Hasselbach will have a team with a lot of promise to work with this season, and with the addition of freshman Elizabeth Tatum to their already loaded arsenal, will make for a very well-rounded group that gives them depth and experience.