The University of Rhode Island women’s swimming and diving team took seventh at the Atlantic 10 Championship last season and saw a slew of players set varsity and conference records, many of whom are coming back.
The Rams scored higher than they ever had at the meet, and the swimmers and divers who collected 286 of their 287 points will be returning for the 2014-15 campaign. The experience will be needed for a Rhode Island team projected to finish ninth out of 11 teams in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches’ poll.
“My [senior] class isn’t the sole contributor to our team,” Rhode Island senior Rachel Revolinski said. “We are a good portion of it, but we wouldn’t be anything without everybody else on our team, we’re one cohesive unit. As far as our senior class, just knowing how we practice and how we developed as swimmers at URI is the key component for me personally.”
Seniors compose more than one-third of Rhode Island’s roster and were a major source of their success last season. Senior Chaya Zabludoff holds eight of the 19 varsity records at the university, among them are her times in the 200-, 500- and 1650-yard freestyle events. Zabludoff’s 1:48.04 finish in the 200-yard freestyle is also the fastest in A-10 history.
Revolinski, Colette Aubin, Emily Thomesen and Sarah Keshishian, all of whom have a part in at least one Rhode Island varsity record, also highlight this year’s graduating class. Aubin holds the top mark in the 100-yard butterfly when she clocked in at 55.61 seconds at the A-10 Championship. Revolinski, Thomesen and Keshishian contributing to new club times for the 200- and 400-yard medley and the 200-yard free relay.
“[The senior class chemistry] is really good,” Revolinski said. “We’ve all got very different leadership roles and it all meshes together and it’s really awesome.”
Bolstering the diving squad is the return of seniors Cara Brown and Julie Coleman. Coleman and Brown, who both registered points at the Atlantic 10 Championship last year, shared the workload as the only two Rhode Island divers for the past couple seasons.
The diving team enters the year with two new players and a new coach. Senior Kate Middleton, who transferred to URI from the University of Massachusetts, scored a 189.65 in the three-meter dive at A-10s last season. Freshman Laura Wood, who chose the Rams over Central Connecticut State University and Bryant University, placed sixth in the state diving championship while attending Oxford High School in Oxford, Connecticut.
Amy Miksis was named the new leader of the diving program on Aug. 22 after a year as the assistant diving coach at Bryant. Miksis was an All-Ivy League Academic Team honoree and a finalist at the Ivy League Championships while diving at Brown University for four years.
“Probably the most dramatic improvements is diving and that we have four divers,” Rhode Island head coach Westkott said. “That should help the divers out because more is better. For [Brown and Coleman], they get tired of seeing the same old, same old. Amy’s [Miksis] done a really good job with the divers and they’ve responded very well too. [Brown and Coleman] are very excited, excited to have good senior years.
Westkott also noted the improvement of Kate Snyder and Gabriela Gil, who are positioned for strong junior seasons. MacKenzie Gendron, Hannah Homans, Angela Stahl and Sydney Williams join Wood in Rhode Island’s freshmen class. Gendron was swim captain at Agawam High School in Massachusetts for two years, while Stahl was a part of the Scranton Preparatory School team that holds the school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
The Rams open up their season Oct. 18 at the University of Connecticut Quad Meet where they will compete against UConn, Central Connecticut and Yale University.
“We could be better,” Westkott said. “As good as we were last year, we know we have to better because the competition is getting faster and diving better. It’s been a very good start, probably our best start ever. Everybody’s working hard, working together. The new kids that have come in have been right on target with us. We’re now just getting into the kind of hard work that we need to sustain ourselves during the season, but the response has been very good.