The University of Miami swimming and diving team will head to East Meadow, N.Y. to take part in the 2004 Big East Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday, Feb. 19 through Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Nassau County Aquatics Center.

The Hurricanes will send a total of 15 swimmers and divers to compete in 22 events at the three-day championships, including two-time All-American junior Miguel Velazquez the defending Big East Champion in the one-meter and three-meter springboard as well as the Big East’s Most Outstanding Diver in 2003.

Velazquez, along with freshman Derek Starks, will look to improve on Miami’s impressive run at the Big East Championships that has saw the Hurricane diving team win at least diving championship since 1992, while sweeping both the men’s and women’s titles every year since 1997 under the guidance of head diving coach Randy Ableman.

The UM women’s team will look to improve on a third-place finish at the 2003 Big East Championships.

First-year head swimming coach Mariusz Podkoscielny will lead eleven swimmers to the 2004 meet including junior Katalin Ferenczi who will compete in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke as well as the 200-yard IM. Earlier this season at the Minnesota Invitational, Ferenczi tied the school record, which she also held, in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.26.

The Hurricane swim team will also look to a number of newcomers, with a total of six freshman swimmers competing including Nancy Gajos and Tara Erwin. Gajos qualified for the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.54, the second fastest in the conference and Erwin touched in with the Big East’s second best time in the 1650-yard freestyle with a mark of 16:45.58. Gajos will also compete in the 200-yard butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle while Erwin will compete in the 500-yard freestyle.

Miami will also send swimmers sophomore Adrien Ferguson (200 IM, 400 IM, 200-yard butterfly), freshman Lindsey Fox (50-yard freestyle), freshman Kristen Lunak (400 IM, 200-yard breaststroke), junior Lindsay Knapp (400 IM, 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard backstroke), freshman Ashley Knapp (200-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard backstroke), freshman Andrea Hughes (100-yard butterfly, 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle), sophomore Martyna Krawczyk (100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke) and junior Colleen Adkins (100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke) to compete for the Big East title.

Two-time All-American Emily Spychala, along with freshman Heather Bounds, will compete in the one-meter springboard, three-meter springboard and platform diving championships for the UM women’s dive squad.

The 2004 championships are slated to begin on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

-Compiled by the sports information department.