By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's swimming and diving team returns to the pool ready to show what it is capable of. The Crusaders are committed to success in and out of the pool, as the team returns 14 members of last year's squad, nine of whom were members of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. The Crusaders also welcome six newcomers to the team. Head coach Barry Parenteau's excitement for the upcoming season has been confirmed by the team's hard work at practice. "This team is hard-working, with a lot of swimmers who want to step up and swim well," commented Parenteau. The Crusaders will put their hard work and commitment to the test when they open the season on Oct. 17 at the Hart Center.
The graduation of last season's top backstroker Brian Hendrickson and the absence of Aidan McGrath, caused by a junior year abroad opportunity, opens the door for senior Stefan Opolski and sophomore Patrick McMahon to lead the Crusaders. Opolski looks to take over the top spot, as he recorded the third fastest Holy Cross time in the 100 back at the 2009 Patriot League Championship with a time of 58.64. The improvements Opolski made last season combined with his versatility makes him a natural leader in the backstroke events. Newcomer Connor Bowman will add some much needed strength, as he will swim on relays and in a variety of backstroke events.
Top breaststrokers Brian Livingston and Michael Burns return to lead the Crusaders in the breaststroke events. Last season the duo battled back and forth for the top times in the 100 and 200 breast, with Burns edging Livingston out in the 100 with a time of 1:02.13 and Livingston edging Burns out in the 200 with a time of 2:14.78. This year at the Worcester City Championship, Livingston will look to continue his reign atop the breaststroke events, as he owns two titles and the meet record in the 100 and took first in the 200 last season. Burns, who finished second behind Livingston in both events, will continue to push Livingston. Livingston and Burns will also be chasing the school record in the 100 breast and will see competition from newcomer Brian Power. Junior Sean Hager also returns as a top performer for the Crusaders, as he is a good all around swimmer and can swim events based on the need of the team. Returners Michael Ragone and Matt Mullaney will also bolster the lineup in the breaststroke events.
Juniors Nick Larsen and Hager, along with senior Aaron Brosnan return to the pool to lead Holy Cross in the butterfly events. This season, Larsen will look to carry over his success from last season's Patriot League Championship when he swam the team's top times of the season in the 50 (24.74) and 200 fly (2:08.33). Hager will also look to continue his success from last season's Patriot League Championship when he swam the season's fastest time in the 100 fly (55.33). Brosnan will continue to push Larsen and Hager, as he recorded the second fastest times in the 100 (55.56) and 200 fly (2:10.17) last season.
Top Holy Cross sprinter, senior Joseph McShane returns to lead the Crusaders in the sprint freestyle events. Last season, McShane had a break-out year, recording Holy Cross' top times in the 50 (22.18), 100 (48.05) and 200 free (1:46.63) events at the Patriot League Championship and looks to continue that success in the 2009-2010 season. Helping the Crusaders recover from the loss of a graduating class full of sprinters will be juniors Matthew Hynes and Larsen. Newcomers Connor Bowman, Chris Malfitano, Edward Supple and John Vatalaro will help the Crusaders in the 50, 100 and 200 events, along with the sprint relays.
Captain and last season's top performer, senior Ryan Boate returns to lead the Crusaders in the distance events. Boate led the Crusaders last season with top times in the 500 (5:00.09), 1000 (10:51.75) and 1650 freestyle (17:23.56) events. Boate recorded his top times in the 500 and 1650 at the Patriot League Championship and looks to translate those top times into success this season. Burns returns to push Boate in the 500 free, as last season he recorded four of the top five times in that event. Opolski returns to provide leadership and knowledge of the distance races and sophomore Matt Sottile will add depth. Newcomer Brian Lyons will help Holy Cross in the middle distance events.
Livingston and Hager will team up to lead the Crusaders in the individual medley events again in 2009-2010. Last season, Livingston and Hager recorded the fastest Holy Cross times in the 200 and 400 IM. Livingston swam his fastest time of the season in the 200 IM at the Patriot League Championship, while Hager recorded his fastest time in the 400 IM at the Terrier Invitational. This season Hager will try to repeat as champion in the 400 IM at the Worcester City Championship and better last season's third place performance in the 200. Brosnan and Sottile will help the Crusaders improve in the IM events, adding depth and flexibility to the events.
Holy Cross fans can look forward to another exciting season on the diving board, as the Crusaders return top diver, sophomore Adam DeVito. DeVito returns to the boards full of promise after last season's record setting performances. DeVito, the current Holy Cross record holder in all diving events, will be joined by the diving captain, senior Josh Rodriguez. Together the pair will lead the Crusaders in the diving events, as both divers are working on increasing the difficulty of their dives.
Holy Cross will open the season at home against Patriot League opponent Lehigh on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Crusaders will continue action on the road at Fairfield on Saturday, Oct. 18, before welcoming Springfield to the Hart Center Pool on Oct. 31. Holy Cross will host Army (Nov. 11) and travel to the Terrier Invitational hosted by Boston University (Nov. 20-22). The Crusaders will close out the first half of the season on Dec. 4-5 at the Harold Anderson Invitational hosted by Rhode Island.
The Crusaders kick off the 2010 portion of the season on Jan. 20 at Bryant before hosting the Worcester City Championship on Jan. 22-23. Holy Cross will host Providence on Jan. 30 and then close out the regular season at Boston College on Feb. 4. Holy Cross will wrap up the season at the Patriot League Championship on Feb. 18-20 in Annapolis, Md.