Season Preview: Sea Gulls return with experience on both sides; expect to improve standings this year

Season Preview: Sea Gulls return with experience on both sides; expect to improve standings this year

SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury University men's and women's swimming teams had a lot of accomplishments last year and will look to build on that success coming into the 2014-15 season, with a strong squad of returners and a talented group of newcomers.

Head Coach Jill Stephenson has some high hopes for both teams this year, expecting both teams to improve their standings in the Capital Athletic Conference.

Stephenson is confident in that goal because she has been noticing her team's work ethic in the preseason.

"Our team has been working hard," Stephenson said. "They came back in shape and we have a lot of competition on the team."

Men's Team

The men's squad starts the year with a strong slate of returners led by Okan Eyigor, Will Gough and Rich Ambrose.

Eyigor had a spectacular year during his freshman campaign, claiming the first gold medal for the Sea Gulls since 2009 and breaking three individual school records during the conference championships. Eyigor also earned First-Team All-CAC honors in the 200 backstroke.

Will Gough also had a record-breaking year last season, finding his way to Second-Team All-CAC honors in two different events.

Ambrose helped set a new school record in the 200 freestyle relay alongside Jake Blazer, and both returners will look to make another big impact this season.

There is also a group of skilled newcomers on the men's team this season that have a chance to make an immediate impact, with the additions of Stephen Arcidiacono, Mallen Figueroa, Conor Johnston, Andre Lipiec and Kevin Mejia.

"We've got a lot of good talent this year," Stephenson said. "I'm expecting a lot out of the newcomers and all of them are fast enough to place at championships if the season goes well."

Women's Team

The women's team will look to improve on their standings in the conference from last year, returning a deep squad of swimmers, led by Victoria Radcliffe, Layne Gable and Nicki Schult.

Radcliffe led the team last year, breaking two school records at the conference championships in the 200 IM and the 200 breaststroke.

Both Gable and Schult, along with Radcliffe and Maggie Deering, contributed to a fourth-place finish in the 400 medley relay at the conference championships.

"We have some good returners, including Layne Gable and Victoria Radcliffe, and I expect our returners as a whole to take a leadership role and rally our team," Stephenson said.

Stephenson is also excited about the newcomers on the women's team and expects a lot out of them, with the key additions of Bizu Baldinazzo, Nicole Marders and Kelsey Wumer.

"We have added plenty of talent on the women's side as well and I am excited to see how they compete," Stephenson said.

Schedule

The Sea Gulls have another tough schedule ahead of them, opening the season at home on October 21 against Rowan University, and then traveling to take on both Catholic University of America and York College of Pennsylvania.

After the two-game road stretch, Salisbury will be back at home for three straight meets, taking on Washington (Md.) College, Frostburg State University and for the first time, Penn State-Altoona.

SU will also be taking part in the Swarthmore Invitational, which gives the Sea Gulls a chance to compete against teams that are not usually their schedule, such as Cabrini College and Ursinus College.

After road meets against the University of Mary Washington and Marymount (Va.) College, the Sea Gulls will cap off the regular season on January 24 against St. Mary's (Md.) College.

"We don't have any easy meets this year," Stephenson said. "Every meet is going to be a challenge.

The CAC Championship will be held at St. Mary's (Md.) on February 20-22.

"I'm excited about our team as a whole this year," Stephenson said. "They got a little taste of success last year, and now they are going to build on it."

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