Oct. 19, 2007
The future of the Butler women's swimming team has become increasingly bright in the last few years especially in the time that head coach Maurice Stewart has been at the helm. The program's winning ways returned in 2006-07, as a pair of dual meet wins gave the Bulldogs their first victories in almost three seasons.
This year's squad is determined to make the recent trend of success continue, as the 2007-08 Bulldogs will benefit from the addition of four talented newcomers to seven returning swimmers who will all be primed to make waves in the Horizon League this year and for years to come.
"We have a great group of incoming and returning women who are committed to our program," Stewart said. "They are all extremely eager to begin moving up the conference ladder."
Stewart has assembled a roster which features three veteran swimmers who recorded five of the school's top-10 times last season alone, and the third-year coach expects more of the same in 2007-08.
Additionally, Stewart will have some familiar faces with him on the pool deck this season. Former swimmer and 2007 Butler graduate Korey McCulley joins the staff as an assistant coach, while third-year coach and former Bulldog Carlton Racette returns for his third season as a volunteer assistant. Butler will also benefit from the added support of first-year graduate assistant coach Erin Linneman, who will assist with on-deck coaching, academics and team travel.
In addition to the success of the team in the pool in recent years, the Bulldogs have also thrived in the classroom. Butler has been one of the top academic teams in the nation during Stewart's tenure, earning its fourth-straight "superior" rating from the College Swim Coaches Association of America by ranking fourth in the country with a 3.562 cumulative GPA in the spring of 2007.
The freestyle events will be the Bulldogs' primary focus in 2007-08, with a quintet of returning freestyle swimmers and a newcomer who will be relied upon to make an immediate impact this season.
Senior Elizabeth Shafer returns as the team's most dominant middle distance freestyle swimmer. She paced the Bulldogs in both the 200 free (2:01.09) and the 500 free (5:28.38) last season and added depth in the sprint events with the fourth-best times in the 50 (26.83) and the 100 (57.15). She was a vital part of the relay teams, having part in some of the best times in school history.
Sophomore Julie Elmore will follow her break-out freshman campaign as the Bulldogs' lead distance swimmer. Her 11:24.98 in the 1,000 not only led the team but was the ninth-best mark in school history. She also paced the squad in the 1,650 with a time of 19:56.16.
Juniors Sarah Lynne Gates and Katie Krueger will continue to be the top options for the Bulldogs in sprint and middle distance events. Gates posted the sixth-fastest 50 freestyle time in school history in 2006-07 (25.35) while adding some of the quickest times of the year in the 100 (57.53) and the 200 (2:05.26). Krueger, meanwhile, recorded the eighth-best 50 freestyle time in Butler history (25.66) and added the second-fastest 100 free time of the season (56.93).
Sophomore Stephanie Moles will also be a contributor in the freestyle events after putting up top-three times in the 100 (57.00), 200 (2:02.47) and 500 (5:35.80). Freshman Brooke Calo, a team captain and four-year letterwinner Indianapolis Franklin Central High School, could also make an impact in her first season with the team.
Gates returns as the Bulldogs' top backstroker in 2007-08, while Krueger and sophomore Kendall Wormley will be counted on for depth in the event.
Gates posted the fourth-fastest times in school history in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes last season, recording a 1:02.31 in the 100 and a 2:13.59 in the 200. She also swam the backstroke leg of the 200 and 400 medley relays that finished with the top times on the team last year.
Krueger notched the team's fourth-fastest mark of the year in the 100 back (1:07.53), while Wormley tallied the third-best time in the 200 (2:25.15) and fifth-best in the 100 (1:07.96).
Elmore and Wormley will anchor the fly events for the Bulldogs in 2007-08. Elmore posted the fourth-fastest times on the squad in both the 100 fly (1:08.40) and the 200 fly (2:40.90), while Wormley added the fifth-best mark in both the 100 (1:09.35) and 200 (2:42.08).
Newcomers Brianne Owens and Anna Taylor will add depth in the fly events. Owens earned all-conference honors as a junior and senior at Salem (Ind.) High School and holds seven of the school's records. Taylor, meanwhile, comes to Butler from DePauw after swimming the fly, backstroke and freestyle events in high school.
Freshman Leigh Weston is the Bulldogs' top candidate to assume the top spot in the breaststroke events in 2007-08. She earned Academic All-America and all-state honors at Pendleton Heights High School and was a four-year conference champion and state qualifier. Her 100 breaststroke time of 1:07 is also a school record.
Sophomore Momo Wilson will add a veteran presence to the event after swimming to the second-best 100 time of the year (1:12.42) and finishing with the third-fastest mark in the 200 (2:37.48). Calo will also be relied upon to add depth.
Gates will take on the task of being possibly the Bulldogs' most versatile swimmer in 2007-08, serving as the top IM swimmer in addition to her endeavors in the freestyle and backstroke. She posted the second-fastest times of the year in both IM events last season, swimming the 200 in 2:15.67 and the 400 in 4:55.37.
Supporting Gates in the lineup will be a pair of newcomers in Calo and Weston, who both have state championship experience and will be expected to contribute right off the blocks.
The Bulldogs will attempt to build upon their strong relay performances last season, which produced three times that ranked in the top-five in the school record books.
The quartet of Gates, Krueger, Moles and Shafer in both the freestyle and medley relays has the Bulldogs in line for possibly even more record-setting times in the pool this year. The group played a large roll in setting some of the team's best marks in 2006-07, and the addition of Weston to the mix will allow for more versatility in the event.
The 2007-08 schedule will feature some exciting and challenging competition for the young Butler squad. The Bulldogs will be swimming in some of the fastest pools in the country this season, including the IUPUI Natatorium during the House of Champions Invitational and at Busbey Natatorium in Cleveland for the Horizon League Championship.
Additionally, Butler will be going head-to-head with five league opponents throughout the season, including Green Bay, Milwaukee, UIC, Youngstown State and new league member Valparaiso.
"This young team has the ability and talent to be competitive and has the ability to challenge several of our opponents this season" Stewart said. "The balance of our schedule this year will allow our athletes to build confidence against our competitors, be challenged by others and, most importantly, provide us with the necessary preparation to perform well at the league championship in February."