2002-03 Men's Swimming and Diving Preview
October 16, 2002
Bloomington, Ind. - The Indiana University men's swimming and diving outlook changed drastically this past June. That day, Director of Athletics Michael McNeely named Ray Looze, Jr., as the eighth head swimming coach in school history. In doing so, McNeely handed Looze, who most recently was the men's and women's coach at the University of the Pacific, the keys to a program that has secured six national championships and 23 Big Ten titles in its illustrious history.
Looze, who was recognized as the Big West Conference Men's Swimming Coach-of-the-Year following four of his five years at the Stockton, Calif., school, inherits a program that finished seventh at the 2002 Big Ten Championships, which was Indiana's worst Big Ten finish since 1954. Despite recent struggles, the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center, which was completed in 1996, coupled with the recruiting allure that a world-renowned university provides, should provide the energetic, achievement-oriented Looze with a strong foundation upon which to build.
"The major goal is to get everyone accustomed to a new philosophy, new goals, and direction," said Looze. "I presented the goals to the team at the very first meeting. Thus far things are going well. This year we want to set a foundation from a team standpoint of how we are going to do things from this point into the future."
Despite last season's disappointing finish, Looze does not take over a program totally void of talent.
"We had three swimmers and one diver qualify for NCAAs last year," said Looze. "I've identified the talent on the team and there are probably seven to eight guys that could make (2003 NCAAs) in a perfect world. So that's the standard. If we have a perfect season we'd get seven or eight young men to the meet and we'd get back into the top 20 with the same personnel in place that took seventh last year. If we do this, we're pointed in the right direction."
With two returning swimmers who qualified for the finals of the 50-yard freestyle at the 2002 Big Ten Championships, head coach Ray Looze should have one of the top sprint freestyle units in the Big Ten Conference this season. It is Looze's objective to create depth by having each of these sprinters add at least one more event to their respective arsenal.
Leading the way for the Hoosiers in the sprints are juniors Claes Andersson (Boras, Sweden/Sven-Erikson), Dale Ramsy (Crown Point, Ind./Lake Central) and Mike Payne (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence).
A returning NCAA qualifier in the 50-yard freestyle and an Academic All-Big Ten recipient, Andersson capped off a solid 2001-02 campaign by recording a 19.93 in the 50-yard freestyle at the 2002 Big Ten Championships, which was good for a third-place finish. At the same meet, he placed 15th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.82 and swam the second leg of Indiana's fourth-place 200-yard freestyle relay team and the third leg of IU's sixth-place 400-yard freestyle relay.
Ramsy made tremendous improvement last season, lowering his personal-best time in the 50-yard freestyle from 21.33 to 20.05. He also cut his time in the 100 free from 47.09 to 45.56. At the 2002 Big Ten Championships, he finished 5th in the 50-yard freestyle.
A product of Bedford, Ind., Payne barely missed scoring points at the 2002 Big Ten Championships as he was an alternate in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing 18th in a time of 20.53. He also swam the third leg of Indiana's school-record setting 200-yard free relay team that finished fourth (1:19.29) and was 26th in the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 45.54.
Coach Looze's analysis of his squad in the sprint freestyle events: "In freestyle, sprinting we are fairly deep in number of guys but only two scored at last year's Big Ten Championships. Claes (Andersson) is a returning scorer as is Dale Ramsy, where both were in the final of the 50. Where we need them to improve is to move up a little in that 50 and add a 100 or a third event. They dropped off significantly after that first event and they need to be more versatile, especially in the 100-yard freestyle which would help our 4x100 relay. Mike Payne is ready to stop up and score at the Big Ten meet. He will get stronger by spending a lot of time in the weight room. He's got a beautiful stroke and hopefully will have a level of success and beat guys that are faster than him to build confidence. We have three guys and now we need to produce NCAA-type relay splits out of a Nicholas Burgess, Jason Gasior, Blake Wallace, or Jonathan Burgess."
When one begins to delve into IU's roster in the distance freestyle events, the first place to turn is sophomore Richard Bryant (Somerset, England/Millfield). A talented distance freestyler with a good deal of potential, he has already recorded the fourth-best time in school history in the 1000-yard freestyle with a mark of 9:19.00. At the 2002 Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, he finished 16th in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:41.48, 24th in the 200-yard free (1:40.68) and 28th in the 500-yard free (4:31.81).
Ray Looze will also look in the direction of sophomore Temujin Gold, who will be looked upon to score points at the Big Ten Championships before his career concludes. He may have the ability to break into the top 16 this season in the 1,650-yard freestyle. At the 2002 NCAA Championships, Gold finished 32nd in the 400-yard individual medley in a career-best time of 4:04.79, dropping a remarkable 16 seconds off of his seed time of 4:20.82. In addition, he finished 36th in the 500-yard freestyle in a career-best 4:33.76. In the 1,650 freestyle, he was seeded in a time of 16:34.68 and went on to finish 30th in a time of 16:13.41. One week later at the Indiana Open, Gold dropped another 30 seconds from his time, finishing in 15:46.06. Versus Purdue on 2/9/02, recorded a career-best time of 9:42.63 in the 1000-yard freestyle.
Coach Looze's analysis of the distance freestyle events: "Richard Bryant, in the distances, is our main guy. Temujin Gold is hoping to produce a few points in the mile. He's got to drop about 10 seconds to do that. Richard has a great deal of talent. We're going to work on every phase where he needs improvement. The young man can train and if he makes decisions that help him get there quicker, he might be able to make NCAAs this year."
One of the top backstrokers in the Big Ten Conference, junior Matt Leach (Beaverton Oregon/Westview) will be looked upon to be a conference finalist in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke before his career at Indiana concludes. He presently holds the fourth-fastest times in school history in the 100 and 200 backstroke. At 2002 Big Tens, Leach swam the backstroke leg of IU's fourth-place 200 medley relay, won the consolation heat of the 100-yard back (49.29) and was 12th in the 200 back.
Sophomore Val Milkov (Varna, Bulgaria/Georgi Benkovski) primarily swam freestyle events in 2002 but will likely also see action in backstroke events in 2002-03. Freshman Michael Jones (Louisville, Ohio/Firestone) and sophomore Niles Madison (Weston, Mass./Weston) also have the ability to contribute.
Coach Looze's analysis of the backstroke events: "In backstroke, our best returning swimmer is Matt Leach. We have more depth in this event than we thought we would. Michael Jones looks like he's going to be able to score at Big Tens as a freshman. Val Milkov was a freestyler last year and we are going to have him swim some backstroke. I've been impressed with Niles Madison's athleticism. If we can get him to score some points at Big Tens then we might be able to go four deep. That would be ideal. Matt has a chance to make NCAAs, score there and can certainly lead off a medley relay in the right direction. He's a hard-working kid and just needs to do it. We're hoping that he can make the finals in both backstrokes at the Big Ten meet and then score at the NCAA meet."
Any discussion of Indiana breaststrokers certainly starts with senior David Schulze (Barrie, Canada/Barrie Central Collegiate). One of the nation's top breaststrokers and an Academic All-Big Ten recipient in 2001 and again in 2002, Schulze holds the IU record in the 100-yard breaststroke and maintains the second-best time in school history in the 200 breast. At the 2002 Big Ten Championships, swam the breaststroke on two fourth-place medley relay teams, while finishing fourth in both the 100 breaststroke (54.66) and 200 breast.
Other contributors in the breaststroke will likely include junior Robert Dabrowski (Jupiter, Florida/Suncoast/Florida State) and true freshman Hank Baldwin (Oak Park, Illinois/Fenwick). An Academic All-Big Ten honoree one year ago after spending the previous season at Florida State, Dabrowski competed in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke at the 2002 Big Ten Championships. He finished 34th in the 100 breast in a time of 59.20. He also finished 36th in the 200 breaststroke (2:09.25). Baldwin recorded the 39th-fastest time in the nation in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.15) as a senior in high school last spring.
Coach Looze's analysis of the breaststroke events: "In breaststroke we are a little thin. We do have Dave Schulze, who is one of the best in the country. After that, we have Robert Dabrowski and Hank Baldwin. I think they can eventually score at Big Tens, whether it's this year or next year will depend on how they adapt. I've been impressed thus far but you can only get better so fast and they both have a large segment of time to drop in their best events to even score a point. With Dave, we have one year remaining and in any new relationship you are playing against the clock and time in figuring out how to train somebody. He is talented and a good guy and leader, which will help get him to the NCAA meet. We are hopeful he can score at the NCAA meet and help both medley relays do the same."
While depth in the butterfly will be a problem, Indiana's lineup does include one of the top young butterfly performers in the country in sophomore Murph Halasz. The Richmond, Virginia (Mills E. Godwin) product holds the school record in the 200-yard butterfly, having recorded a time of 1:46.68 at the Indiana Open in March of 2002. In doing so, he broke a record that had been set by the legendary Mark Spitz (1:46.89 in 1972). In addition, Halasz holds the school's fourth-best time in the 100 fly (48.67). At 2002 Big Tens, he swam the butterfly leg of Indiana's fourth-place 200-yard medley relay, finished 12th in the 100-yard butterfly (48.67), and was a finalist in the 200 fly, finishing sixth (1:47.08).
Halasz will be joined in the lineup by sophomore Jonathan Burgess (Naperville, Illinois/Marmion Academy). At the 2002 Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Burgess finished 26th in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 50.51, dropping more than 2.5 seconds off of his seed time.
Coach Looze's analysis of the butterfly events: "We are thin in the butterfly with only two guys. We have Murph Halasz, who I think can be one of the best fliers in the country. He hasn't scored at NCAAs yet but he has the talent. He is one of the better underwater kickers I have had the pleasure to work with and we are going to be exploiting that talent and working very hard in training to utilize the underwater kicking ability. He is a solid citizen and just needs to have someone show him how to train. Jonathan (Burgess) is the only other flier. If we can get some points out of Jonathan at the Big Ten meet we would be very pleased. He's a hard working young man."
The following is a question and answer session with head coach Ray Looze, Jr....
What are the prospects for the 2002-03 campaign?: "I think there's more talent on this team than outside experts or coaches think. We are in an underdog role, which is a nice role to play with a team like this. We are going to exploit it and we are going to beat some teams that don't respect our talent. We will have trouble winning the bigger meets against our more elite competitors but if we can compete hard it sends a message for the future."
What are your goals for this season?: "The major goal is to get everyone accustomed to a new philosophy, along with new goals and direction. In the first month of the season we have done this very well. The team chemistry is coming along nicely. The young men are staying positive and they are working a lot harder than they ever thought possible. I laid out the goals to the team at the very first meeting and we are on pace to achieve those goals. This year we want to set the foundation from our team standpoint of how we are going to do things from this point into the future. We will work toward a Big Ten championship first and then eventually a national championship. When recruits come in on visits they are going to see a cohesive group that enjoys what they are doing even though it's extremely hard and competitive."
How many swimmers have the ability to qualifty for this year's NCAA Championships?: "We had three swimmers qualify for NCAAs last year and one diver. I've identified the talent on the team and there are seven to eight guys that could make it in a perfect world. So that's the standard. If we have a perfect season we would get the seven or eight men to the meet which would get us back into the top 20 with the same team that finished 32nd last year. If this is accomplished, we would be pointed in the right direction. I don't know where that would put us in the Big Ten because the conference is more dictated toward depth than the NCAA meet. Quality can score you points in the NCAA where in the Big Ten you have to have depth."
What is your recruiting philosophy?: "We have to go for depth in recruiting and we will add 10-15 freshmen.We do not have any squad-size limitations so we are going to have very large freshmen classes for the next three years. We are going to take care of our depth in this fashion, which might take four years. Good walk-ons are tough to come by because they might have a scholarship offer elsewhere and you have to give them a reason to come to IU. They will find we are a total package-academics, swimming, and environment. The good news is that this can be done at IU."
Will you need to recruit blue-chip athletes to be successful?: "When we start swimming well and challenging for the Big Ten title, which can be done without the blue-chippers because it's a depth thing, then we will be in the position to sign the swimmers that can put you over the top at the NCAAs. If we swim well each and every year and we establish a great reputation with high school swimmers and club coaches then we will get commitments from the best swimmers in the United States and beyond.
2002-03 Diving Preview
Under the direction of head men's diving coach Dr. Jeff Huber, the five-time U.S. National Diving Coach-of-the-Year, six men's divers will look to build upon their successes of the last year.
"My expectations are always the same," said Huber. "We really try to shoot for personal bests and do better than we did last year. I know everybody on the team had personal bests in 2002 and almost everyone had personal bests in every event. We'll try and do that again this year. Wherever that puts us in meets, great, but that's all we can hope to do is just get better and perform better. Let the chips fall where they may."
Huber's charges are led by junior Marc Carlton (Webster, N.Y./Webster). One year ago, he finished 12th on the 3-meter, narrowly missing the finals. At the Men's Big Ten Championships, Carlton narrowly missed winning on several boards but was a finalist in all three events, finishing fifth on the 1-Meter, seventh on 3-Meter, and second on 10-Meter.
At the U.S. Outdoor Nationals this past summer, Carlton turned in an excellent performance as he finished sixth on the 10-Meter and earned a spot on the U.S. National Team for the first time. Coupled with their execution and degree of difficulty, every IU diver in 2001-02 set personal bests on at least one board. Carlton [1M (205B, 305B, 5152B) 3-Meter (5154B, 5353B), 10M (207B, 5253B, 6142B)] has added a high degree of difficulty to his repetoire.
"Marc has really improved a lot," said Huber. "He is one of our team leaders. I think he showe that this summer, making the Senior National Team. I think that's just the beginning for him. I look for him to have personal bests on all three events."
Along with Carlton, senior Adam Hazes (Bethesda, Md./Winston Churchill), who is hearing impaired, will likely be one of the top performers in the Big Ten Conference. At the 2002 Big Ten Championships, Hazes was a finalist on both springboard events, finishing eigth on 1-Meter and fourth on 3-Meter. This past summer, Hazes finished 15th on 10-Meter.
"Adam is really focused and doing a nice job in training," said Huber. "I look for him to have a really good year and provide us with some leadership as well."
Alex Burns (Elletsville, Ind./Edgewood), who will be a junior this fall, rounds out the returning divers who competed last year. Burns finished 20th on 1-Meter and tenth on 3-Meter at the 2002 Big Ten Championships.
Said Huber of Burns,"He's and extremely talented athlete. He is doing some really difficult dives on 3-Meter. If he wants to step up and be the best diver in the Big Ten he can certainly do that."
Joining the three returning divers are Ryan Fagan (Pittsburgh, Pa./Jefferson) and Brian Metzler (Tampa, Fla./H.B. Plant), both of whom redshirted last year. A five-time high school All-America selection, Fagan will see the first action of his collegiate career this season. Metzler was sidelined throughout the 2001-02 campaign with a shoulder injury.
"Ryan is another guy on our team who can step up if he wants to. He's very, very talented and has a lot of guts. He's a hard worker. I'm not sure he realizes how talented he is. He should really blossom into a heckuva diver."
Remarked Huber regarding Metzler, "He can do some awesome stuff. He had shoulder surgery and it just didn't heal as quickly as expected. It's just the way some surgeries go. He had a good summer."
With tremendous talent throughout the lineup, the recruiting pipeline to the Indiana diving program looks to continue with the addition of Brian Mariano. The Naugatuck, Conn., product was named as the top high school diver in the country this past year and was featured on the 2002 ESPY Awards for a goal he scored on a flip throw in soccer.
"Brian is just getting over a back injury but he's really a great athlete. I think he'll really develop into one of our great Indiana University divers. He's got it all."
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