Swimming & diving 2012-13 review
April 2, 2013
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Looking back on 2012-13
While the 2012-13 season saw some challenges for the Colorado State swimming & diving program, several steps were made in order to get the Rams back to the echelon of the Mountain West—and doing so as early as the 2013-14 season, the program’s 40th, is not out of the equation.
“In some respects, this season was a step back—and that’s primarily on me—but I think we recovered nicely,” Head Coach Christopher Woodard said. “We built as the season went and there were some definite positives to be gained. Obviously, getting Breann (Fuller) to NCAA’s was one of the top priorities, and I’m eager to see how we can learn from what we did this year heading into the fall.”
The team can build off of several tangible achievements this season—including a rise in the Mountain West Championships standings, a return to the NCAA Championships and a strong finish during the dual-meet season—and despite losing 10 seniors to graduation, CSU is expected to return a full roster of accomplished swimmers to fill the seniors’ events nicely.
Fuller returns to NCAA Championships
For the second time in her career, Breann Fuller competed in her sport’s biggest stage. Swimming at the 2013 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., she finished 24th in both the 100 and 200 Backstroke events, CSU’s highest individual finish since 2004.
“It was a great way to cap my career at CSU,” Fuller said. “To get back to NCAA’s for my senior season was a big goal of mine, so I’m thankful for the support of my coaches and teammates. When I went as a freshman I was nervous, so I just went out there looking to have fun, and it helped me swim better.”
A total of 50 athletes competed in the 100 Backstroke, and 52 swam in the 200 Backstroke. Fuller entered the weekend ranked 37th and 31st, respectively, nationally, moving up the charts and posting times that ranked second (53.26 in the 100) and third (1:55.04 in the 200) in CSU history.
The senior also qualified for the Championships in 2009, as a freshman, finishing 48th in the same events. Prior to Fuller, CSU’s most recent qualifier was Kristen Schneider, in 2004. Fuller, a Brighton, Colo., native, earned a trip to the Championships after posting qualifying times throughout the season.
Woodard believes that Fuller’s performance can lead to more national success for his current roster.
“I think it’s a charge for everyone on the team to know that they trained and competed with one of the elite racers in America,” Woodard said. “That’s essentially what it is; she’s among the best of the best, and she should propel our team to earn that status, as well.”
Fuller at her finest
Breann Fuller has been integral to the success of the swimming & diving team since she first jumped in the pool as a freshman. Throughout her career, she holds five school records and has earned four Mountain West championships. She was a 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier and last month earned the Senior Recognition Award, which annually goes to the league’s top senior student-athlete. Additionally, she has been selected to the All-MW team four times, and is a three-time Academic All-MW member.
|100 Backstroke||52.92||Feb. 27, 2009|
|200 Backstroke||1:54.40||Feb. 23, 2013|
|200 Freestyle Relay||1:32.09||Feb. 26, 2009|
|200 Medley Relay||1:42.17||Feb. 20, 2013|
|400 Medley Relay||3:42.27||Feb. 21, 2013|
Moving on up: Mountain West Championships
After an eighth-place finish in 2011-12, CSU was looking for a top-five finish at this year’s Mountain West Championships. The Rams didn’t quite obtain their goal, finishing seventh, but saw an improvement from a year ago, and aren’t far away from reestablishing their rich history.
As one of the more storied programs in MW history, CSU has placed in the top three five times (2000-04), including three top-two finishes.
Even more impressive is CSU’s dual-meet record against the current members of the MW, which stands at 112-22 (.836). Just one team (Boise State) has a winning dual-meet record over CSU (2-1), and UNLV and CSU have split their 10 meetings. The Rams hold commanding advantages over several teams, including Air Force (20-2), New Mexico (29-2) and Wyoming (41-7). CSU has never finished below Air Force in the Championships, and just twice have the Rams finished lower than New Mexico.
Diving into the future
Beginning with CSU’s season opener at Denver (Oct. 20, 2012), the diving squad was a bright spot for the team. That day, making her collegiate debut, freshman Arianna Milone won both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, setting a pool record in the 3-meter jumps and coming within eight points of a school record on the 1-meter boards. She was named the Mountain West Diver of the Week.
Despite having several divers held out for periods of time due to injuries, the Rams qualified three student-athletes—Paige Greely, Ariana Milone and Maxelise Thorn—for NCAA Diving Zones, the most since 2005. Additionally, CSU was tied with Nevada for the second-most divers represented by the Mountain West.
This is only the start, diving coach Kevin Witt says, as all three divers have at least two years of eligibility remaining.
“It’s was new experience for all three divers, but it was an experience-building meet for all of them,” Witt said. “All three will be back next year, so I’m really excited about our future. I think they’ll build off being on this national level, and really have the potential to take off these next couple years.”
CSU swimmers established five school records during the 2012-13 season, with each coming during the MW Championships (Feb. 20-23).
|200 Medley Relay||1:41.17||J. Shepard|
|400 Medley Relay||3:42.27||B. Fuller|
|400 IM||4:21.23||E/ Stock|
|200 Breaststroke||2:14.67||E. Stock|
|200 Backstroke||1:54.40||B. Fuller (MW record)|
Despite dropping the season’s first seven dual meets, the Rams finished the season strong, earning a pair of victories to close the dual-meet season. CSU defeated Northern Colorado, 145-98, on Senior Night (Jan. 30), followed by a 157-143 win at Air Force three days later (Feb. 2). The Rams have now defeated the Bears in 11 consecutive dual meets, while they’ve scored above the Falcons 16 times in a row.
Freshmen making an impact
While the Rams struggled at times this season, several young athletes surprised the team and coaching staff.
Ariana Milone guided the diving team during the team’s first competition, back in October, earning Mountain West Diver of the Week honors after her first collegiate meet. After missing 11 weeks with a broken hand, Milone returned to the boards and finished in the top 10 in both the 1-meter (10th) and 3-meter boards (sixth) at the MW Championships. Along with Paige Greely, who had CSU’s best score in the 1-meter boards during the season, she qualified for NCAA Zones.
Among freshmen making an impact in the pool was Jessica Shepard, who held the second-best time in the 100 Backstroke, behind only nationally-ranked Breann Fuller, in addition to being second in the 200 IM. Felicia Gilson (third in the 100 Butterfly) and Alison Smith (fifth in the 200 Butterfly) ranked among CSU’s top-five times this season, for their respective events. Additionally, Cristina Bassani, Mackenzie Thornton and Bailey Williamson were also listed among CSU’s top performers.
“They made some mistakes along the way, but I think they’ve bought into what we’re doing, and made strides,” Woodard said. “Having them in some finals and consol swims, and on relays, were all positives. We lose 10 seniors, but right now we have 11 committed. We’re not replacing the talent; we’re replacing the bodies, but a lot of those girls improved through their four years, so that’s our expectation for this group, as well.”
The 2012-13 senior class included 10 athletes, one of the largest in recent memory—Tara DeMuth, Tasia DeMuth, Mary Foster, Breann Fuller, Chelea Kelly, Arianne Lujan, Kelly Mathews, Madeline Mitchell, Shelley Perkins and Lydia Templin.
The class was a remarkably steady anchor for the team this season. The Rams were able to rely on the very consistent performances from Fuller in the freestyle and backstroke, Kelly Mathews in the breaststroke, and Arianne Lujan in the Butterfly and IM. With a class of 10, the seniors made up a powerful force on the team and in the record books. Three seniors hold a total of five school records and 43 spots on CSU’s all-time top-five times list.
“I’m really proud of this senior class,” Woodard said. “When I look back on the season, I think we helped the seniors close out their careers in a good fashion, and now we need to get to work, and build from the ground up.”
Looking into the future
“Through the first two years, we had some basic goals, and the goal for me this season is to step away from the times and goals, and focus on the process,” Woodard said. “What kind of technique are we seeing in the water? Are we professionals behind the block? Are we willing to do more to improve our rankings? Are we competing hard during the summer? Things like those will be more vital to our program over the long run.”
Following the Rams online, Twitter
Fans of CSU swimming & diving can get all the latest news on CSU’s athletic website, www.CSURams.com. Additionally, fans can follow the Rams on Twitter: @CSUswimming.