YORK, Pa. – The York College women's swimming team embarks on the 2011-2012 campaign with optimism as they sport a talented and experienced squad. With quality veterans returning to the lineup and an influx of fresh talent, this season's prospects look strong for Spartan swimming.
"We have a good number of things going for us as we head into the season," Spartan head coach Gina McHenry said as she enters her 19th season at the helm of the program. "We have a strong group of returners who have experienced success within our program. Our new swimmers have outstanding potential and could be very good in their first season. It will be exciting to see how we mesh together."
Senior Michaela Guild and junior Chelsea Ross, a pair of outstanding freestyle swimmers, lead the charge heading into the campaign. Guild has been a strong distance freestyler throughout her career. She owns each of York's three records in the event (500, 1,000, and 1,650) while she was also part of a pair of relay records. A tri-captain who leads by example, Guild will look to not only put together another quality season but also help her teammates push to new heights.
Ross enters her junior campaign following a strong 2010-2011 season. Including her third-place finish in the 100 freestyle at the Capital Athletic Conference Championships, Ross has experienced quality success during her two seasons and will look to build on that this year.
"Michaela and Chelsea have done fantastic things in the pool during their careers," McHenry said. "They both work exceptionally hard and have been able to build on their talent. They have an opportunity this year to do even better things, and we are very excited to see them in action."
Including Guild, the Spartans sport three quality seniors as Kate Estes and Kathy Murphy also enter the final season of their respective careers. Estes and Murphy, who are also York captains this year, will look to lead the Spartans to one of their best seasons to date. Estes is an enthusiastic student-athlete who will help push the Spartans through the grueling swimming season while Murphy's performance in the backstroke will be key to York's team success.
"We have tremendous seniors with Michaela, Kate, and Kathy," McHenry said. "They will each be outstanding leaders for us while also doing good things in the pool."
York's junior class, a group which includes Ross, hosts a solid group that has picked up excellent experience during each of their first two seasons. Meg Dailey notched a pair of top-16 finishes at last season's CAC Championships while Mandy Oldham and Alex Minsky each picked up a top-16 finish in the 100-breaststroke event at the conference meet last season. Katelyn Romm and Bethany Moore add even more depth in the Spartan junior class.
"This group has done well over their first couple of seasons in the pool," McHenry said. "We are really looking for them to breakout this year with their combination of talent and experience."
It may be the Spartan sophomores that offer the greatest source of optimism for this season. In just her first season of collegiate swimming, Anna Schuster established new program-bests in the 100 butterfly (1:01.60) and the 200 IM (2:17.47) while also placing seventh in the 100 freestyle at the league championships. Jenny Hinkle and Kelsie Pike each placed 10th and 11th in a pair of events during their first CAC Championships while Danielle Marino placed in the top-16 in the 100 breaststroke. Laurel France enters her second season and looks to add even more depth to the squad.
"There is a load of talent within our sophomore class," McHenry said. "With the outstanding results they posted last year and a full season of collegiate swimming under their belts, they should be able to put together fantastic performances throughout the year."
York also welcomes a bevy of fresh faces to the pool deck for the 2011-2012 campaign. Lindsey Buglino, Courtney Dacheux, Sammy Greenwald, Megan Murphy, Megan Shannon, Susha Stone, and Meg Walker join the Spartan squad and will look to quickly adjust to the collegiate ranks. This group possesses a strong overall résumés and could do outstanding things in just their first season with the Green and White.
"We are excited about our new swimmers," McHenry said. "They bring in success from their previous swimming experiences and have the talent to compete at the college level. There will obviously be an adjustment period, but we are looking forward to seeing these newcomers begin to realize their potential."
The Spartans once again face a solid schedule as their ten-date slate, not including the annual CAC Championships, features non-conference foes Susquehanna, Dickinson, and Washington & Jefferson. York opens up their 2011-2012 schedule on November 4 against CAC opponents Mary Washington and Hood.
"This will be a very interesting year for us," McHenry said as the women embark on the season. "We have the potential to do some very good things. We just need to come together as a team, focus on training well every day, and strive to get better. If we do that, I believe this could be a great year."
PHOTO: Start block at York College's natatorium courtesy of Zach Clabaugh - www.sharpedgefoto.com