If a new era for the swimming and diving teams actually began last week in Tallahassee, then it was reinforced Saturday in Coral Gables.
Even though the Hurricanes lost their first home meet of the year to Florida Atlantic University, several freshmen on the team won key races. This was also the first home loss for first-year Head Coach Mariusz Podkoscielny.
“I am disappointed with the overall result because we lost to Florida Atlantic, they are a very good team but it’s always hard when you lose at home,” Podkoscielny said.
The ‘Canes fell into a large deficit early and it became too difficult to overcome at the end of the meet.
UM did have some highlights in the loss, however. Junior Katalin Ferenzci won the 100 and 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Nancy Gajos won the 100 and 200-yard butterfly. Freshman Terra Erwin won the 500 and 1000-yard distance freestyle and sophomore Adrien Ferguson won the 400 IM for the Hurricanes.
“We made some mental mistakes in the first part of the meet, we recovered pretty well in the second and last part of the meet but we still have a ways to go,” Podkoscielny said.
This year the Hurricanes cannot afford to fall behind early in any of their meets due to the lack of depth on the team. Although Podkoscielny intends to address this issue during recruitment, he still finds himself and his team in a transition.
“I think we had some bright parts on the team but we definitely don’t have enough depth to be more consistent in a season and you know that something that comes with recruiting,” Podkoscielny said.
The overall mission for Podkoscielny this year is to learn more about the competition and more importantly, learn more about his team.
“But we have some people that are going to step and start getting better, I think the outlook for this year is going to be pretty bright considering what the team went through in the past year with the transition,” Podkoscielny said.
One of the most important qualities of Podkoscielny is the way he manages his team by understanding the current situation. He recognizes that while he has to make a transition from Oregon State University, his team has to get used to a new coach as well.
“With the change in coaches there’s always a new philosophy and the team has to adjust to that,” Podkoscielny said.
Due to the change at both head coach and assistant head coach, the team started this season without much training over the summer. When taking into account the lack of preparation in the off-season and coaching change, the ‘Canes had a lot to overcome and improve upon before the first meet last week.
“We didn’t come back in the greatest shape after the summer. We need to make sure from now on we come back ready to train when we hit August and September and we just didn’t do that this year,” Podkoscielny said.
Podkoscielny will look to his freshmen to carry the team in the years to come. He hopes that the recruitment classes of the next few years will help improve the ‘Canes’ NCAA ranking.
“Every time you have a freshman class coming in, you’re going to be looking at them as a bright spot in the future and we really have a great freshman class. [The Freshmen] have a lot of stability and a lot of good top swimmers combined with the starters. They’re going to be the core of the team for the years to come,” Podkoscielny said.
The Hurricanes will participate in the Minnesota Invitational from November 20th through the 22nd. On an overcast day for the ‘Canes, you can’t help but think about the future of the team.
“We didn’t win the meet but we raced hard…we had people getting up on the blocks today with 2 or 3 minute rests and racing hard. Those are the kind of things that make you smile and make you think about the future and being excited about the future,” Podkoscielny said.
Spencer Weinkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org