October 3, 2008

Swimming Kicks Off 2008-09 Campaign At Home On Sunday

Oct. 3, 2008

The Butler swimming program is in a rebuilding phase but moving forward despite a small squad size, with seven returning swimmers and three newcomers for the 2008-09 season. The team will be anchored by a pair of seniors in Sarah Lynne Gates and Katie Krueger that will provide leadership in both in the classroom and pool.

"We're remaining optimistic in spite of our small squad size and lack of depth in some events this season," head coach Maurice Stewart said. "I know the team will overcome this transitional period because of this group of committed swimmers, led by our two seniors who will encourage team cohesiveness. We're all going to work together as we tackle the challenges ahead and move the Butler swimming program forward this season and into future."

The Bulldogs are coming off a season that featured 10 top-10 times set during the year and four top-16 performances at the Horizon League Championship in addition to numerous lifetime-best swims. Butler continued to thrive in the classroom as well, as the team has been ranked among the top-10 nationally in grade point average during each of Stewart's three seasons at the helm.

"We're striving to be the best we can both athletically and academically," Stewart added. "Our goal is to achieve lifetime best marks in at least 70 percent of our top times this season and to finish with at least a 3.5 grade point average as a team in both the fall and spring semesters."

Freestyle
The freestyle events will be the program's core strength and focus for the 2008-09 season. Seniors Sarah Lynne Gates and Katie Krueger will be the squad's top returning swimmers in the event.

Gates and Krueger will lead the sprint free events this season. Gates posted the team's top mark in the 50 free last season with a time of 25.82, while Kruger ranked second in both the 50 (25.98) and the 100 (56.61). Stewart will also turn to juniors Stephanie Moles and Momo Wilson, sophomore Leigh Weston and newcomer Libby Bates in the sprint free events.

Gates, Moles and Bates will be the team's top candidates in middle distance events. Gates notched the second-best time in the 200 last season with a 2:05.36, while Moles posted the second-fastest 500 mark with a swim of 5:40.76. All three have potential to score points for Butler in both the regular dual meet season as well as the league championships. Wilson, sophomore Maria Keyler and freshmen Allie Qualls and Allie Shafer will add depth in the event.

The Bulldogs will need to find a replacement in their distance events for departed senior Elizabeth Shafer, who finished her senior year in 2007-08 with all-time top-10 marks in the 1,000 (11:03.95) and the 1,650 freestyles (18:58.37). Stewart will rely on Moles and Bates to step into the lead role. Moles swam to the third-fastest mile time on the team last year with a 20:02.59. Gates, Keyler, Shafer and Kendall Wormley may also have some opportunities to perform in the distance events for the team this season.

Backstroke
Along with the freestyle, the backstroke will be one of Butler's strongest events this season. Gates returns as the team's top backstroker after posting top-10 times in the 100 (1:01.46) and 200 (2:12.77) last season. Krueger also finished with solid showings in the 100 back last year, while Wormley, Keyler and Bates will add depth to the event.

Breaststroke
A break-out year by Weston last season led to a pair of top-10 marks by the then freshman, who swam to a 1:08.72 in the 100 and a 2:28.92 in the 200. Wilson will provide solid support in the event after notching top-10 times of her own in the 100 (1:10.74) and 200 (2:30.79). The tandem could give the Bulldogs a legitimate shot at a championship final showing in the event in the league tournament in February. The rookie Shafer will also add depth to the breaststroke events this season.

Butterfly
The fly events will be led by Wormley and Qualls. Wormley notched the team's second-best time in the 200 fly with a swim of 2:39.61. The team will look to Wilson and Gates to provide depth, while others could also step in to support the effort.

Individual Medley
Gates and Wilson will be the team's premier athletes in the individual medley for 2008-09. Gates led the way in both the 200 (2:15.52) and 400 (4:55.30), with her 400 time ranking as a top-10 all-time mark, while Wilson posted the third-best time in the 200 (2:24.77). Newcomers Bates, Qualls and Shafer will team up with Wormley to provide support in the event. All four have the potential to improve greatly this season and be competitive against other league teams.

Relays
The Bulldogs' 200 and 400 free relays will be strong events this season thanks to the addition of Bates to a solid core of returning swimmers Gates, Krueger, Wilson and Moles. In the medley events, Gates and Kruger will give the team a quick start in the backstroke leg, Weston and Wilson will anchor the breaststroke leg and Wormley will provide a solid effort in the fly before one of the three newcomers will finish things off with the freestyle leg.

Schedule
A pair of regular season tournaments and dual meets against five Horizon League schools highlights the 2008-09 Butler women's swimming schedule.

"This year's schedule features a good mix of non-conference teams that we will be competitive with along with Horizon League teams that will challenge us this season as we continue to rebuild the program," Stewart said. "Overall, I am pleased with the balance in our schedule this season. It will test us, but I am confident it will prepare us well for a good showing at our mid season invitational and conference championships in February."