High hopes for WLU swim team

File Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
File Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Finishing in ninth place in both men’s and women’s OUA championship competition last year, Wilfrid Laurier University swim coach, Hans Witolla, is very hopeful that the team can double its output from last season’s competition.

“I want to double the number of swimmers we have going to CIS.  We had two last year, so my goal is to get to four,” Witolla said.

“I’d also like to double the number of points we get at OUA.”

With nine female swimmers and seven male swimmers joining the team this year, Witolla seemed very optimistic that the Laurier swim program is moving in a positive direction and could attain his ambitious goals for the 2016-17 season.

He explained that OUA swimming is “a very competitive enterprise” and that for most first-year athletes, the expectation is that they learn a lot in their first year before taking a big step up in their second and third years of OUA competition.

I want to double the number of swimmers we have going to CIS. We had two last year, so my goal is to get four.

-Hans Witolla, Laurier swim coach

That being said, there are very high hopes for top recruits Jasmine Raines, a breast stroker from Waterloo and Jacob Gardner, a sprint freestyler from Kingston.

“These are two recruits that we’re getting that are already senior national qualifiers.  So they’ll likely make CIS,” Witolla said.

Should this occur, Laurier would be half way to the goal of sending four swimmers to the CIS competition at the beginning of 2017.

These aren’t the only exciting recruits joining the team this fall, either.

On the women’s side there is also Jocelyn Chassie and Jessica Stoyan, who, alongside Raines, will make for a very strong rookie class of female swimmers.

As for the men, Jacob Eby joins Gardner as the top recruits this season, with Eby competing in the butterfly. Witolla seemed very excited to have these guys bringing their talents to Laurier.

“I mean, as far as male recruits coming, [Eby and Gardner are] pretty solid.  There’s a bunch of other guys around them who are probably going to step up, based on conversations [I’ve] had with them and their coaches.”

Even with such an influx of talent, the team will ultimately be led by some of the more senior students who have already enjoyed some OUA success.

There should be a good balance of young talent and veteran leadership on the team this year with proven swimmers like Kate Vanderbeek and Michael Neves returning this fall.

“Kate Vanderbeek was great all year and she continued in the summer. She swam great in the summer. I just saw her at senior nationals last week and she’s trained hard all summer,” Witolla stated about the three-time team MVP.

He then went on to add, “Right now she’s taking the only three weeks off she’s had, so I’m really proud of her.”

Considering all the hard work put in over the summer, coupled with a strong class of recruits, the Laurier men’s and women’s swim teams are prepared to make a substantial splash over the 2016-17 season.

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