2011-12 Swimming & Diving Preview
Year One of the Pat Skehan Era begins with a sense of determination and optimism towards eventually transforming La Verne swimming & diving into a force at both the conference and national level. With the dawn of the 2011-12 season, Skehan believes that the first step towards that goal has been reached.
"We first wanted to raise the expectation level and thus far our kids have really been receptive," said Skehan, who elevated the Cal State Bakersfield program into a perennial Division II power. "I've been amazed by how much they want to improve and become a much more competitive unit.
Skehan also feels her staff is in place to help with the reclamation project with assistants Errol Stump, Nicole Ruesch and diving coach Jim Luci.
Both Errol and Nicole did a wonderful job of holding the team together through the transition and have help bring in the excitement as we move forward. They've stepped tremendously. Jim is a great addition to the staff as he brings solid credentials as a Division I competitor and a Division III coach.
Skehan has inherited a men's and women's team that has met the early challenges of a new regime. "Our athletes have been great in meeting our initial expectations and theyve grown from every challenge put in front of them," she said. "They are beginning to see the potential in themselves which makes my job more fun."
Additionally, Skehan believes that both squads, for what they lack in depth have made up in sheer energy and enthusiasm to each practice on a daily basis, which she believes will pay off in subsequent meets.
Among the returnees on the men's squad include sophomore Marc Okimura, who made an immediate splash in his first season with the Leopards and looks to be a factor on the national scene in the breaststroke. Additionally, the men's team should receive strong contributions from Shane Hurter, Dennis Rickerd and Andrew Mackay.
On the women's side, the Leopards are youthful but have high expectations as they embark on the 2011-12 campaign. Among the swimmers include talented freshman Maddy Lovrensky who could factor in several events, and sophomore diver Melissa Dooley.
La Verne hosts three meets this season which include conference matchups with Cal Lutheran (Dec. 3), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Jan. 14) and Caltech (Feb. 4).
Though the SCIAC is one of the more formidable swimming & diving conferences in the country at the Division III level, Skehan feels that La Verne will soon become a presence among the conference's elite programs. "We don't have big teams right now, but our kids have taken ownership and pride into what we're building and the results will follow."