Oct. 1, 2012
Air Force men's swimming & diving enters the 2012-13 season with raised expectations. The team goal for the season is to move into the upper-echelon of teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and head coach Rob Clayton is confident his team can achieve the goal.
Air Force returns 18 letter winners off the 2012 team that went 8-9 overall and finished sixth at the MPSF Championships. The Falcons return four swimmers that swam school top 10 times last season in senior Tim Martinelli, junior Angus MacDonald and sophomores Ryan Dunne and Max Evans-Nolan. Senior Anthony Chiaro is the team captain this season.
When asked what stands out about his team this season, Clayton mentions the team's dedication to off-season training headed into the Fall.
"We're coming off the best Spring and Summer training ever since I've been here," Clayton said. "Our guys have put in significant hours at the pool during the off-season, more so than I can ever remember here. We are very prepared to swim well right away."
Brigman is a distance free specialist and Jones will specialize in the middle distance free. Jenkins can swim several events, including breaststroke, medley and butterfly. Chiaro and Martinelli will be some of Air Force's top sprint-freestylers and Millikin looks to return to the form that had him at the top of the conference as a sophomore in the back and fly events.
"Tim is poised to have a breakout season, Kaleb has been strong for us in many events and Anthony is looking to give us a boost in the sprint events," Clayton said. "Matt is ready to return to dominance in the back and fly. Each of our seniors needs to come through for us and finish out their four-year careers on a high note."
"Angus was our top back stroker last season and we expect the same from him this season," Clayton said. "We will also need him to step up in the sprint-relay events as well."
The sophomore class features several up-and-coming swimmers, led by Ryan Dunne and Max Evans-Nolan. The group also consists of Kyle Casias, Peter Shelbourne, Sam Sloan, Alex Strom, Sam Wieser and diver Greg Copeland.
Dunne was one of AFA's top swimmers in the 100 and 200 free and Evans-Nolan was all-MPSF in the 1650 free. Both Casias and Shelbourne will compete in the fly and free events. Strom will bolster a strong distance free group and Wieser will contribute in the breast and IM events. Sam Sloan will be looked on to head up the 400 IM group and contribute in fly and back.
"Our sophomores had a great freshman season in 2011-12," Clayton said. "We're expecting them to make significant strides with a year of college experience under their belt. Ryan just missed being a finalist in the free events at conference and looks much improved. Max was one of the top distance swimmers in the conference last year and comes into the fall looking in great shape as well. Sam Sloan, Sam Wieser and Alex Strom give us some solid depth across several events."
The freshman class features several talented newcomers according to Clayton. The group consists of 10 swimmers and three divers.
"We have an outstanding freshman group," Clayton said. "We have two freshmen from Tennessee, Robert Graves and Kevin Jackson, that will be pushing Max for top times in the distance free. These events (500 free, 1650 free) will be one of our team strengths. Michael Barnosky is another freshman we're real excited about. He came along very strong late in the high school season and will lead our breaststrokers. George Frank and Kevin Mitchell will be competing for relay spots immediately."
Individually, Frank and Mitchell will also be factors in the sprint free, butterfly and IM events. Kyle Castro, Sean Ledford and Alex Leighton will bolster the fly events. Matthew Walls will swim the back and free and Aaron Tipton can swim the breast and fly events. The Falcons also welcome three freshmen divers in Jaron Swinburn, Dominic Vallejo and Nathaniel Zillweger.
"Our freshman class gives us a lot of talent and versatility across the board," Clayton said. "We expect them to contribute immediately"
The Falcon divers will be led by junior Alexander Pecci and senior Brent White. Pecci was all-MPSF in the platform diving as a sophomore. Junior Peter Cialkowski, sophomore Greg Copeland and the three freshmen, Swinburn, Vallejo and Zillweger will provide added depth.
With a strong group of upper classmen, an up-and-coming sophomore class and a talented freshman class, Clayton likes his chances for success in 2012-13.
"It's our second year in the MPSF and our team goal is to move up in the conference standings at conference. This conference is loaded with strong teams so we have our work cut out for us. We'll have the chance to swim against several conference rivals during the dual meet season. That should help us prepare to be at our best for the MPSF Championships in February."