Swimming & Diving Seeks To Continue Upward Trend
BALTIMORE - Brian Loeffler, the head men’s and women’s swimming coach at Loyola University Maryland since 1992, likes the direction that the two programs are headed.
The 26th-year coach smiles when he explains, “We are definitely on an upward trend. Every season, we get better.”
Last year was a memorable one for the Greyhounds. Numerous records were broken and both teams finished sixth in the Patriot League standings. According to Loeffler, both teams could be even better this season because of the size of their rosters.
The men’s team brought in a large group of freshmen and has 30 swimmers on the roster, including a dozen newcomers. The women’s squad has a total of 35 swimmers.
“It is important to have internal competition with a team,” said Loeffler. “Each team is allowed to bring 20 swimmers to the Patriot League (Championships), so we want there to be a lot of competition on the team to earn one of those spots. We want our swimmers to make each other better so we can earn a higher finish at the league meet.”
For the men’s team, senior Ben Cono will certainly have one of those spots. Cono had a remarkable season last year. Named as a first team All-Patriot League selection for the second year in a row, he led the men’s team to its second-best finish at a Patriot League Meet.
He won the 100-breaststroke in a time of 52.83 seconds, setting a Patriot League record as well as a school record and a pool record. Cono was also the runner-up in the 200-breaststroke. An NCAA qualifier in both events, he finished 27th in the nation in the 100-breaststroke. Cono was also honored as the Most Outstanding Male Performer at the 2017 ECAC Championship Meet.
“Qualifying for the NCAA Championships in back-to-back seasons is quite an accomplishment,” said Loeffler. “I think it helps you perform better if you’ve been there already. Hopefully, Ben can make it back there again.”
Cono is one of seven seniors on the Greyhounds’ roster.
Another senior, G.J. Apostle, should be one of Loyola’s top distance swimmers. He finished 19th in the 1650-free at the Patriot League Championships last season. Sophomore John Sakovich, who was 18th in the 1650-free, could be Loyola’s fastest swimmer while veterans Chris Cary and Andrew Mann should also contribute, while freshman Ben Amoreno will also be a factor.
According to Loeffler, the Greyhounds should be very strong in the breaststroke event. In addition to Cono, Loyola has junior John Callaghan. Last season, Callaghan was seventh in the 100-breaststroke at the Patriot League Championships and was an NCAA “B” qualifier. He finished tenth in the 200-breaststroke at the Patriot League event, as well. Sophomores John Venit and Luca Dicapua will also swim the breaststroke events while newcomers Austin Lee and Michael Travis bring talent and depth to the roster.
Senior Alec Sperandio leads the Greyhounds in the sprint events. Freshmen Colin Anderson, Pat Clisham and Brendon Kolar will also contribute. Sperandio could also be the top performer in the backstroke events. Freshmen Mark Boran, Joshua Gluck and Conor Rutigliano could also be factors.
Coming off a strong freshman season, sophomore Zach Metzler will be Loyola’s best performer in the butterfly events. Sophomore Richie Kogut was impressive last year while Anderson, Clisham and Rutigliano will also compete in the butterfly events.
Coach Loeffler feels the relay teams will be improved. Last year, the Greyhounds broke a few school records and the coach likes the number of swimmers he can choose from.
“I like coaching relay teams,” he says. “The team concept is very strong. When a team breaks relay records, it says a lot about the level of talent on the team.”
Loeffler points to his diving teams, both men and women, as a major reason for the Greyhounds’ recent success.
Senior Sam Baluzy is the top diver for the men’s team. Honored as the Patriot League Diver of the Week, he was seventh in the three-meter dive at the conference meet. He also took fifth place at the ECAC Meet. Senior Adrian Halarewicz and sophomore Matt Golle have also shown improvement.
On the women’s side, junior Lindsey Staszewski has emerged as one of the top divers in the Patriot League. Last season, she was honored as the Patriot League Diver of the Week five times, and she finished fourth in the Patriot League in the three-meter diving while finishing second at the ECAC Championship.
“The improvement in our diving program has been significant,” says Loeffler. “Our diving coach, Rob Baier, has done a great job. If a team is going to be successful, it needs a good diving program.”
Loeffler feels that the Loyola women’s team will also be stronger this season.
“We have a lot of people returning and we’ve added some talented newcomers,” says Loeffler.
Sophomore Annie Hayburn returns as the Greyhounds’ top performer. Honored as the Patriot League Swimmer of the Week last February, she was named the team’s Most Valuable Swimmer as a freshman.
“Annie had a very strong freshman year for us,” Loeffler says. “She had a great summer and has improved her times. She should be a key swimmer for us in the 100-backstroke and the 100-butterfly and she will also be important on relay teams.”
At the Patriot League Championships, Hayburn finished 13th in the 200-backstroke and turned in a 20th place showing in the 100-butterfly.
The Greyhounds’ prospects will also be improved by having a healthy Megan Adlem this season. Her return to form should lead her to being one of Loyola’s best performer in the backstroke and distance events.
Adlem will be a factor in the individual medley and backstroke events. Her versatility makes her an asset to the Greyhounds.
The women’s team lost an outstanding swimmer in the breaststroke events, Tara Mulligan, however, sophomores Devin Cronin and Emily Koegel are the top returnees. Cronin finished 11th in the 100-breaststroke at the Patriot League Meet. A newcomer, freshman Emma Schouten, should also contribute.
The school record holder in the 400 individual medley, senior Maddie Myers will be a significant swimmer for the Greyhounds in a number of events. One of the team captains, she will also swim the distance free events.
Sophomores Elizabeth Romano and Emily O’Halloran join Adlem and Myers as two of the top veterans in the distance free events. Freshmen MaryKatherine Clark, Morgan Hall and Alexa Stewart will also be competing for spots in the lineup.
Junior Grace Huckenpoehler joins Hayburn as two of the team’s best hopes in the butterfly events.
Hayburn is the Greyhounds’ top performer in the backstroke. Senior Jenna Egan and Adlem will also be factors.
While Loeffler is pleased with his recruiting results from last year, he didn’t limit his recruiting to high school seniors.
He persuaded George Kennedy, the recently-retired swimming coach at Johns Hopkins University, to join the Loyola program.
During his 31-year career at Hopkins, Kennedy won 24 conference championships and was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year seven times.
“George is a long-time friend and mentor,” says Loeffler. “We’ve known each other for more than 20 years and we are so fortunate to have him working with us.”
Loeffler adds, “Our goal is to keep improving in the Patriot League. This is our fifth year in the league and I really like being part of it. Believe it or not, the Patriot League is the only Division I conference in the country where every school has a men’s program and a women’s program.”
The Greyhounds open their regular-season on October 6 when they travel to American University for a 4:00 meet.