Oct. 10, 2008
BALTIMORE - The 2008-2009 editions of the Loyola men's and women's swimming and diving teams have a tough act to follow.
Last year, the Greyhounds set 22 school records and won a total of seven Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference individual or relay titles, setting the bar high for current and future Loyola swimmers.
Head Coach Brian Loeffler has his team positioned, however, to challenge many of those records and further build on the huge mark many of the current team have left on the program.
The Greyhounds begin their 2008-2009 schedule Saturday when they host the men's and women's teams from Boston College, Catholic and the U.S. Naval Academy at 11 p.m. in the Mangione Aquatic Center.
With 50 women and 36 men on the roster, Loeffler's teams are the largest, and arguably the most talented, they have ever been. A total of 27 members of the team will hit the water for the first time in collegiate competition on Saturday.
"The first meet is always a fun time," Loeffler said. "I am sure man of the freshmen will be nervous for their first collegiate competition."
Last year, the Greyhound men and women each posted third place finishes at the MAAC Championships. Jacob Drannan was a MAAC titlist in the 500-yard freestyle, while three men's relay teams - the 400- and 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays - captured conference crowns.
On the women's side, Kim Krzacek won the 100-yard breaststroke, and Megan Royer set a MAAC record while winning the 50-yard freestyle at the conference meet. The Greyhounds' 200-yard freestyle relay team also set a MAAC record while winning the event.
A total of 32 swimmers, 16 on both the men's and women's sides, advanced to the ECAC Championships following the MAAC meet.
Of the 22 school records that were set a season ago, each of the individuals and relay participants return to the pool this year.
Caitlin Cassidy, who set school marks in the 100-yard backstroke, freestyle and butterfly, and Tori Kamauff, the school record-holder in the 200-yard backstroke and freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, return.
Megan Royer set the MAAC and school record in the 50-yard freestyle, and Meg Shovlin, who broke the Loyola standard in the 1,000-yard freestyle also return. Kim Kraczek, the 100-yard breaststroke MAAC champion and school record holder, and Eryn Crane, who set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly, will compete again this season.
Crane was also recently named to the NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a representative of the MAAC.
Jacob Drannan, the MAAC titlist and school-record setter, in the 500-yard freestyle is also back.
Philip Scholz is also back in the water for Loyola. Scholz returned in mid-September from the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, where he swam for Team U.S.A. Saturday's meet will be his first competition since the Paralympics, and he will also compete collegiately in the backstroke for the first time.
"Last season, we focused Philip on the fly and distance free events," Loeffler said. "This weekend, he will get a chance to swim some backstroke and take aim at the American records in those events."
Scholz currently holds 16 American Records in various events.
The first meet of the year will present a broad-based challenge for the Greyhounds across the events program.
Last year, the Navy men defeated Loyola, 194-101, and the Midshipmen women were victorious, 160-129.
"Navy is the fastest team, on the men's and women's sides, we will face all season," Loeffler said. "They are a very deep and talented team."
Loyola's men beat Catholic, 247-41, and the women topped the Cardinals, 243-61, but a new head coach has Catholic primed for the opening meet.
"Catholic has hired a new coach in Paul Waas," Loeffler said. "He has a great swimming background and will have his teams ready to race."
The Greyhound men also defeated Boston College, 202-92, in the Eagles' home pool last year, but the women lost, 212-88.
"Last season we had a very good meet with BC," Loeffler added. "They have reloaded with a number of great freshmen, so I anticipate the competition will be great."