Men’s swim program concludes final year

The Hurricane swimming and diving programs were able to overcome the looming elimination of the men’s team to have one of their best seasons in recent memory.
The men’s diving team was led by Miguel Velazquez, who was named an All-American for the second year in a row. The Gulliver Prep graduate was the only men’s diver to compete in the NCAA Championships, where he placed 10th in the platform dive and fourth in the three-meter dive.
Diving coach Randy Ableman has been impressed with what he’s seen from Velazquez, who should be a key factor in the program’s success next year.
“I was pleased particularly in Miguel’s three-meter performance at the NCAAs,” Ableman said. “He’s getting better and we’re making big plans for next year.”
The women divers were led by Katie Beth Bryant, whom Ableman refers to as the “best athlete in the school.”
The women’s swim team had a promising run in both the Big East and national competitions. For the second year in a row, junior Manon van Rooijen powered the squad, as she was the only ‘Cane to swim in the NCAAs.
Van Rooijen finished 13th overall in the 100-yard freestyle, and holds both the University of Miami and Big East Championship records in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle.
No stranger to international competition, the Dutch swimmer won a silver medal in the relay at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Van Rooijen hopes to return to the Summer Games in 2004.
Another ‘Canes swimmer with Olympic aspirations is recent graduate Elaine Schwartz. Schwartz recorded two top-five finishes at the Big East Championships.
At the present time, Schwartz is debating whether or not to make a run at the 2004 Olympics.
“The Olympics have always been a dream since I was little, but right now I am not sure,” Schwartz said. “I will have to see how my training goes this summer.”
The season of the swimmers and divers is even more remarkable given that the ‘Canes were in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Perennial powerhouses Notre Dame and Rutgers are two of the top programs in the country, and the ‘Canes were able to stick right there with them.
Swimming coach James Sweeney feels the Big East is a conference on the rise and deserves more recognition for the programs it has produced.
“The Big East is the most improved conference in the nation,” Sweeney said. “It will be critical for us to keep up with all of the other schools in the conference that continually improve.”
The Hurricanes will have a different look next year without the men’s swimming program, but the squad as a whole return Velazquez, Van Rooijen, and several other athletes that hope to follow their example.
Van Rooijen sums up the team’s goals adequately.
“Just keep improving,” Van Rooijen said. “We compete in a great conference and we can’t stop working for one minute.”