In fact, his anticipation for the season belies his long tenure as the coach of the Loyola programs.
“I am just as excited for this opener as I was back when I started,” Loeffler said. “On both teams, we have new parts and I can't wait to see how they fit.
“Coaching is such a passion of mine; I like working with college-age students. It keeps me young. I am 47 years old, and I don't feel that old. It is also helpful that I have a very supportive family.”
The Greyhounds have two days of competition this weekend, including their first intercollegiate meet on Friday night when they host Patriot League-foe American University at 6 o’clock. The Greyhounds then welcome alumni back for their annual Alumni Meet on Saturday at 4 p.m.
A 1991 graduate of Loyola, Loeffler has been part of the coaching staff since 1992. His affiliation is a source of pride for him. Since becoming the Greyhounds' head coach, he led Loyola to four men's championships and four women's championships during Loyola's run in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. He was honored as the MAAC Coach of the Year twice.
“Being part of the Loyola program means a lot to me,” says Loeffler. “When I was a swimmer here, 'Murph' (former Coach Tom Murphy) provided a lot for me and my teammates. It is my goal to keep that tradition going strong.”
In the last few years, the challenge has become more significant since Loyola joined the Patriot League. Loeffler likes the new affiliation.
“One of the things that I like about the Patriot League is that all 10 league members have men's and women's swimming,” he says. “It's surprising how few conferences have that kind of participation.
“When we joined the Patriot League, it was a huge jump from the MAAC. The Patriot League is a much faster swimming conference, and the bar has been raised; we are making more of an impact in the league each season.”
After finishing near the bottom of the league in its first two seasons of Patriot League membership, the Loyola men's team took fifth place last year and had its first Patriot League champion, Ben Cono. The women's team rose to seventh in the league and the Greyhounds were much more competitive.
“One of the benefits of competing in the Patriot League has been the quality of student-athlete we are able to recruit,” admits Loeffler. “We find ourselves recruiting against other Patriot League schools and the Ivy Leagues. There is a high level of respect among the Patriot League student-athletes and coaches.”
Loeffler believes both of his teams will be competitive this season.
“Although the men's team lost quite a bit of talent to graduation, we have some freshmen who could make up for those losses,” says the coach. “It's going to be fun to watch the women's team. There is quite a bit of talent on that squad.”
A native of Smithtown, N.Y., Cono won the Patriot League championship in the 200-breaststroke last season and finished as the league runner-up in the 100-breaststroke. He also became the first Loyola swimmer ever to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Loeffler is also expecting some strong efforts from senior captain Zeke Wolfgang. He should contribute in the backstroke and the breaststroke, along with junior Alex Speradino.
Freshman Alex Munson has been impressive in the pre-season. He is a strong swimmer in the backstroke events after a strong career at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Marland. Another freshman, Zachary Metzler of nearly Calvert Hall College High School, should also contribute.
According to Loeffler, the Loyola women's team had a great chance to move up in the league standings last year. However, injuries and illness kept the Greyhounds from competing at full strength.
“We have quite a bit of talent on the women's team, “ Loeffler said. “And, we have had some newcomers who have done very well in the pre-season.”
Freshmen Megan Adlem of Adelaide, Australia, Anne Hayburn of Annapolis, Maryland, and Emily Koegl of Chester, Virginia, have all been very impressive for Loyola in the pre-season. In fact, the trio dominated the Intrasquad Meet last weekend.
Adlem was an Olympic Trials qualifier in multiple events in Australia while Hayburn had a tremendous career at St. Mary's High School. She helped the Saints win two conference championships and was named as the Swimmer of the Year by The Annapolis Capital-Gazette. She was named All-County three times.
Koegl was a very talented swimmer at Matoaca High School in Virginia.
When Loyola opens its season against American on Friday night, it will mark the beginning of an 11-meet home schedule at Mangione Pool.