Milwaukee Begins Title Defense At Madison
Oct. 10, 2012
Friday, Oct. 12 Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's swimming & diving team begins the defense of its Horizon League Championship with the start of the 2012-13 season with a non-conference dual meet against Big Ten competition this Friday. The Panthers head to Madison for their annual showdown with cross-state rival Wisconsin for a 4 p.m. meet.
The 2011-12 season truly was one to remember for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's swimming & diving team. The Panthers had a record-breaking season and were crowned Horizon League Champions after a dominating performance at the league meet. But the team is not content after winning the conference title for just the second time in program history and the women are ready to begin their title defense.
"The women are excited to do it again," Milwaukee head coach Kyle Clements said. "They waited so long and finished runner-up so many times; now that it's theirs, they are not letting it go any time soon."
As usual, the Panthers graduated some of their top talent from last season. But, despite the loss of two Horizon League champions, Milwaukee is arguably even more talented at the start of this year than when they won the title last March.
"With the talent that we brought in, we are actually a more talented team than we have ever been," Clements said. "Now, a lot of them are new and they're not as polished yet, but as a collective group this is the most talented I have seen our group. I know the girls have been putting in the work toward this season already and we have the talent to not only not step back, but to continue to step forward. That is what is exciting to me."
"We lost two of our top sprinters from last year, but Sierra Townsend is going to be the one that holds the sprints down for us." Clements said. "She did a lot of it last year for us, a lot of relays and to save some of our other swimmers from the relays. Sierra is the one that's going to be doing the heavy lifting for us. She will be in every 50 and 100 and a lot of the relays."
While Townsend, who broke the freshman record in the 50 free a year ago, looks to be the anchor at the position, Milwaukee has so much flexibility with its roster this season that individuals who didn't even swim a sprint last year might be leading the team this year.
"Our team has gotten so big and we're so deep that we are going to get a lot of contributions from people who have already been here," Clements said. "Diana Diel, who has been our school-record holder and the won the Horizon League in the 100 fly as a freshman, she's actually going to do a lot of sprint free this year. It's something that she has always had in her, but we've never had to use it because of the upper classmen that we've had. Becky Yokosh, too; she's an upper classmen that can swim sprints but we've just never needed her to."
The Panthers will also get some help from its incoming freshmen, one of the largest and deepest incoming classes in program history.
"We brought in Maggie Maxstadt, who is going to swim a lot of sprints for us this year," Clements said. "She's got the perfect build for it and she has the times to do it. It's going to be a pretty quick group."
"When it starts getting into the thick of it, you've got to go right to Karmyn," Clements said. "She's been right there. She's going to be right there again. The other distance events you've got Chloe Lewis and Kelly Theis, both have been in the program for more than a year now."
"What's going to be really exciting is, we already know what we have in Diana, Diandra and Sierra and Mary and all of our returners. There are a lot of good butterflyers there, but we also added the Wisconsin (high school) state champion in Leah Winckler. She's been swimming really fast and Leah's going to be there for every fly event, especially the sprint fly. You add her to an already veteran group and the flies are going to be tough for us."
"Danielle graduated, but we brought in the No. 2 swimmer out of Iowa and she's going to be able to help us in a lot of events," Clements said. "Kelsey Abbas almost got the school record as a high school senior, she's only about a second or so off. She's going to slide into that role and try to take over right where Danielle left off. I have no doubt in my mind she'll be just fine doing it."
Clements also added newcomer Emily Dean to the talented group that also includes team captain Erika Pliner (sixth in the 200 back at conference last year) and Diandra Prutton (seventh in the 100 back at conference last year).
After just missing a spot on this past summer's Olympic team and earning a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2013 World University Games, McClellan obviously will grab most of the headlines in both events again this year, but her unique abilities have been helping those around her.
"Emily is Emily. She's only getting faster everyday, which is exciting, but she's pushing everyone else," Clements said. "Lindsey Verhulst swims the breaststroke with her almost every time and finished top-eight in the Horizon League last year. She'll continue to drop time.
"Then you've got Brianna Huth, who swam a lifetime best at the end of the year last year and would have made it back to Horizon League. Emily Blohm is one that has been there before and then Hannah Lucas - she comes in with a time that would be top-eight Horizon League, as well. It's a deep breaststroke group and it's going to be a very quick breaststroke group this year."
"With each new roster, it's a different lineup," Clements said. "When you have Emily McClellan, who swims this at the NCAA Championships, and then you have the others that always do this event - Maggi Beck, Hilary Woldt, Erika Pliner, Hannah Lucas, again her time is a top-eight time coming out of high school, Leah Winckler has a scoring time...we could really take our pick in the two IM."
In the 400 IM, Milwaukee has Beck, who holds the freshman record, and Woldt, who swam with Beck at the league meet a year ago. Chloe Lewis and Emily Blohm also have experience in the event and should be in the mix.
"We are just going to try to figure out the new pieces," Clements said. "This is a very deep roster and we're just trying to piece it all together for the finished product."
Welcome to the group three exciting freshmen who figure to make a big splash right away and Milwaukee should have a greater impact this year in the event.
"Rachel Margis just broke all Aubrey's old city records right before she got here. She has been a state champion in Wisconsin many times and is going to do very well here," Clements said. "Anna (Percival) and Leah (Hennes), they were two of the top divers in the state of Minnesota last year. (Diving coach) Todd (Hill) is very excited about both of them. There is a lot of potential with this group and is excited to get them out on the boards."