The University of Richmond women's swimming and diving team will begin its season tomorrow with a meet at Pennsylvania State University.
The meet is the first of seven meets the Spiders will compete in this season before the Atlantic-10 Championship begins in February. The team has had seven consecutive A-10 titles, and has won an A-10 title each year since it entered the conference. The team has also sent swimmers to compete in the NCAA Championship meet during each of the last five seasons.
This year, coaches and swimmers said their ultimate goal was to win another A-10 championship, but that there were also other goals they wanted to achieve this season.
Senior captains Lauren Beaudreau and Cara Smaniotto said the team's goals included having each team member swim her best times and perform well at each meet as well as to send a swimmer or relay team to the NCAA championship meet. They also said the team was hoping to win the A-10 title by the biggest margin it had ever won by.
The team's roster this season includes eight freshmen swimmers, and Beaudreau and Smaniotto said they were excited about the team's newest members.
"We're both really excited about how well the freshmen have adjusted to college swimming, and how much positive input they have contributed to the program so far," Beaudreau said. "It will be really exciting to see how they do at the meet this Friday, along with all the returning swimmers."
Since the end of last season, the team has also added two new members to its coaching staff, which is led by head coach Matt Barany, who is in his fourth season as the Spiders' head coach and who was named A-10 Coach of the Year for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
This July, Athletics Department officials announced that Diane Maiese had joined the program as the diving coach. Before coming to Richmond, Maiese was the diving coach at La Salle University, where she was named A-10 Diving Coach of the Year five times.
Maiese's arrival also marks the re-instatement of the diving program. The team did not have divers compete in meets last year, and was unable to win any points for diving as a result.
Beaudreau and Smaniotto said re-instituting the diving program was an exciting prospect because it would be an opportunity for the team to gain points both during meets and at the A-10 championship.
On Oct. 3, athletics department officials announced that the team had added another new coach to its staff. Danielle Hulick, who recently spent two years as graduate assistant coach at Oakland University, will replace former assistant coach Katy Peterson, who took a position as an assistant swimming coach at Florida State University in August. Hulick graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she still holds a record in the 100-meter backstroke.
"We're really excited about the addition of Danielle and Diane," Beaudreau said. "Both of these women have extremely positive attitudes and bring a lot of valuable wisdom to the team."
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With the roster and coaching staff set, Beaudreau and Smaniotto said the team had been focusing on preparing for competition, particularly this weekend's meet at Penn State. They said practice had been going really well, and that practices had become more intense during the past few weeks.
"Everyone is stepping up to the challenges that our coaches give us and we are all very good at supporting one another in and out of the water," Beaudreau said. "We made it a goal to be excellent in October and we think we've made a lot of positive progress towards that goal."
Beaudreau and Smaniotto said the team's first meet would be a good test of what it had been working on in practice. The Penn State Lady Lions compete in the Big Ten conference, not the Atlantic 10 and are a top 25 team that Beaudreau and Smaniotto said frequently sends swimmers to the NCAA meet.
"Our mindset going into the meet is to give it all we've got and see where all our training we've done so far this season can get us," Beaudreau said. "We see it as an opportunity to race some of the best, which can only make us better, instead of an intimidating situation to shrink away from."
After this weekend's meet, the Spiders will compete at the College of William and Mary on Nov. 7, then continue their season with the Terrapin Invitational and Swimming World's Conference Shootout and meets versus the University of Maryland, University of Miami and James Madison University.
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