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 Illinois Tech women bring back a key contributor to last year's team: team captain Abigail Maze. Maze was an A-finalist in the 200 freestyle at the 2013 Liberal Arts Conference championship meet. She was also a B-finalist in the 100 and 500 freestyle as well as a member of the team's 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay.
Maze will be joined by junior Maria Behrens and sophomore Nicole Frantz. Frantz is ready for a big year in the team's distance events. "These young ladies have already been performing above expectations in this early part of the season," said Bugby.
The lone newcomer to the Scarlet Hawks is freshman Emily Fusilero. Fusilero comes to Illinois Tech from nearby Lane Tech High School. She is a versatile swimmer who will help the team in sprint, distance, breaststroke, and individual medley events.
"Our ladies are going through a unique and exciting time," added Bugby. "As we move into the NCAA Division III, they are excited to make some history for themselves as being the trailblazers to the NCAA for Illinois Tech Women's Swimming. They are excited to find out who we are recruiting, who their future teammates will be, and how they can help the process. It shows a commitment to their program and school. I couldn't be happier."
The Scarlet Hawks open up their season against North Central College on Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 5:00pm in Ecko Pool. This meet also serves as the team's Fall community service project where we are asking for fans to bring toothpaste to be donated to the local church's food pantry.