Optimism abounds as Illinois Tech's Swimming & Diving teams prepare to embark upon their 2013-2014 campaign in their first year of NCAA Division III provisional membership. The men are reigning Liberal Arts Conference champions, while the women took 7th place. This season's conference championships meet takes place at Principia College on February 13-15, 2014 in Elsah, IL.
Illinois Tech head coach Eric Bugby, who is set to begin his first season, is pleased with the direction of both programs.
"We've taken the biggest leap forward by moving from the NAIA to the NCAA Division III," said Bugby. "I'm excited about the young talent that we have in the water and the effort that I've seen in practice. Everyone on the team has embraced the change and they want to see what their potential is. Team captains Billy Bafia and Abby Maze bring a level of maturity and leadership that will carry this team throughout the season, but more importantly, set us up for years to come. It's going to be a fun."
The Scarlet Hawks men return three Liberal Arts Conference champions: Arya Mohaimani, Tanner Grieve, and Kevin Boldt. The men also return A-finalists: Billy Bafia and Felipe Bergh. Billy Bafia will lead the Scarlet Hawks into the upcoming season as team captain. Bafia an A-finalist in the 100 and 200 breaststroke last year at the 2013 Liberal Arts Conference championship meet. He was also a member of the team's 200 freestyle relay that placed second
"There's an excitement about the men's team and an expectation level that comes from the top down. Even though we lost some very good swimmers to graduation, the future of this team is ready and poised to step up and take the team further than it's been before."
Multiple Liberal Arts A-finalist, and sophomore, Kevin Boldt leads the charge in the freestyle and distant events. He is joined by sophomore distance specialist Michael Dobben. The team has a solid sprint and middle distance group with three new faces: freshman Tristan Busch, sophomore Juan Soles, and senior Luke Strenski. "Kevin is a very talented young swimmer. He is ready for a breakout year and has a great chance to be a surprise in February," added Bugby.
Along with Liberal Arts 400 IM champion, and senior, Arya Mohaimani, senior Felipe Bergh adds depth to the team's IM, breaststroke, and butterfly groups. They will be joined by graduate student Zhefu Chen. "Both Arya and Felipe are two of the hardest workers I have seen. Each practice, each set, and each lap is a chance to get better and they have embraced this concept for their last season at Illinois Tech."
Sophomore Tanner Grieve will continue to serve as Illinois Tech's top option in both butterfly events. Sophomore Stefan Nyholm will also see time in these events, as will senior Joseph Lakner.
Along with Lakner and Mohaimani, sophomores Joseph Valio and Matthew Williams will contribute for the Scarlet Hawks in the backstroke events.
Bafia will add top-end depth to Illinois Tech's breaststrokers. Along with Bergh and Chen, he is joined by sophomore breast and sprint free specialist Connor McGuire.