Air Force Women's Swimming & Diving 2010-11 Season Outlook
Oct. 14, 2010
Despite being a young team that will feature 12 freshmen, the Air Force women's swimming and diving team looks to showcase its improved talent as it enters the 2010-11 season. Head coach Casey Converse, in his 23rd season at the helm for Falcon swimming, has added depth and talent with what he regards as one of his best crop of freshmen in several years. With 14 letterwinners returning as well, Converse has a nice blend of returning and new talent with which to work with.
"We've got a nice mix of returners and newcomers," Converse said. "We are taking gradual steps towards a successful program and we feel this year is another strong step in a positive direction."
The Falcons feature just two seniors on the team, but the two are solid contributors to the team. Kaeli Kluesner is one of Air Force's top returning swimmers in the backstroke and individual medley events. Kluesner had the fastest times for the Falcons last year in the 200 back and 400 IM events and the second-fastest marks in the 100 back and 200 IM. Kluesner, who is currently studying in France as part of a foreign language immersion program, will return to the team in December and be ready for conference competition. Caitlin Teresky is Air Force's other senior and will provide veteran leadership as the teams' captain. Teresky will also provide depth in the freestyle and backstroke events.
"Our senior class is small, but they more than make up for it in terms of experience and valuable leadership," Converse said.
Air Force has six swimmers in its junior class, led by two-time All-Mountain West Conference performer and 2009-10 team MVP Katharine Ernst. Ernst had Air Force's second-fastest time in the 100 butterfly and third-fastest time in the 200 fly. In addition, Ernst ranked in the AFA top-five in both medley events. The Falcons feature four juniors in the freestyle events. Alison Ceranski and Cassie Fletcher were both part of the school's fastest 400 free relay team as freshmen and look to be much improved in their third year in the sprint free events. Julie Grabarek returns to the team after taking her sophomore year off and has already shown improvement from her freshman year in the freestyle events. Lauren Delaney is currently at Navy in the service academy transfer-student program. She has been training with Navy swim team and will be ready to contribute in the free events upon her return in December. Elvira Chiccarelli is one of AFA's top returning butterfly and backstroke specialists and has also shown improvement as the season begins.
"This junior class has done a good job of showing leadership for our underclassmen," Converse said. "With our small senior class, our juniors have stepped up and made sure the team is on the right path."
The Falcons also have several talented sophomores who will be looking to improve upon a solid freshman campaign. Katrina Castellanos was one of Air Force's top swimmers in the breaststroke and medley events. Converse envisions Castellanos, who has the third fastest 200 breast time in school history, as having a good chance at breaking the school record in both the 200 breast and 200 individual medley events. Fellow classmate Haley Holcombe is another talented sophomore who will anchor the butterfly events. Holcombe is the school record holder in the 200 fly and has the third-fastest 100 fly mark at Air Force.
Holcombe also had the team's fastest 200 IM time last year and will also be a leader in the medley events. Rosie Mayou has shown significant improvement this offseason and will be one of Air Force's top breaststroke swimmers. Mayou had the teams' second-fastest 100 and 200 breast times as a freshman. Lauren McGuire was a solid contributor in the sprint-free events and will look to show improvement in second season. Alexandra Trobe will make the transition to the sprint-free events after specializing in the distance free events as a freshman. Trobe had the teams' second-fastest 1650 free and third-fastest 1000 free time as a freshman.
"Our sophomore class is pretty talented bunch," Converse said. "We look for them to continue their development and expect big things out of this group."
The Falcons welcome 12 freshmen to the team in 2010-11. The class features 10 rookie swimmers and two divers.
Gabby Aranda will immediately contribute in the butterfly and individual medley events. Alivia Berg, Hannah Cesare, Ashley Crowe and Michelle Kuyper will all see action in the freestyle events. Erin Bleyl and Samantha Laughlin will immediately contribute in the backstroke events. Converse foresees both having the ability to surpass the school records in both back events. Liz Harrison and Elizabeth Keenan will give the Falcons added depth in several events, with the abilities to swim the medley, fly and distance free events. Laura Kelly will provide added depth in the backstroke events.
The Falcons will feature Moranda Hern and Rachel Kennedy as its two divers and will be looking to replace all-conference performer Chelsea Tompkins, who graduated after a solid four year diving career.
"This freshman class has the potential to be one of our strongest classes in several years," Converse said. "They give us immediate depth in several individual and relay events. We think this class has the ability to set some records in several events before they're done."
Despite fielding a relatively young team, Converse is quite optimistic about the 2010-11 season.
"Although we don't have the numbers in terms of upperclassmen, we have a talented group of swimmers that will only get better with experience," Converse said. "We are going to ask a lot out of our youngsters but we are confident they are up to the task. Our goal is to continually improve as the season goes on and to be in a position to score some points at the Mountain West Conference meet at the end of the year."