The Men and Women’s Swimming teams will begin their seasons on Oct. 26 at the Union Relays at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
Head Coach Scott Whitbeck is entering his sixth season at New Paltz and said he’s “pleased with the progress” his team has made so far during preseason practice.
“We’re really at the beginning stages of training,” he said. “I’m happy with where we’re at as a team, but we obviously haven’t had any competition yet to see how we handle competition.”
Whitbeck said he’s excited about the Women’s team because of their mix of young and experienced swimmers.
He also said it’s going to take a lot of effort from the entire team to replace the two All-Americans they lost to graduation last year.
“We have a great sophomore class of girls. In particular I’ve been really happy with Cassidy Griger, Maggie Heaton and Ella Graffin so far, in addition to having two returning All-Americans in Chelsea Allocco and Victoria Scalise,” Whitbeck said.
Allocco, a fourth-year distance free swimmer, said Whitbeck worked hard to make sure there were opportunities for the team to stay active when they weren’t in season.
“He was the one who set up the programs to make sure there was something going on during the off-season,” Allocco said.
Whitbeck said the Men’s team isn’t as experienced as the Women’s team, having only three fourth-years, but he said the men have a great chance to succeed this year because of their work ethic.
“The guys team is very young and they’re really growing as a team,” he said.
Third-year distance free swimmer Jack Spader said the team is doing well because of the commitment they’ve shown so far.
“The team showed a big effort in the preseason when practice was optional,” he said. “It’s a young team, but I think we have a lot of potential.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the swimming and diving program at New Paltz and more than 130 alumni came to campus from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 to celebrate.
Spader said he was glad he was able to be a part of the 50th anniversary celebration.
“We had so many alumni come back,” he said. “It was so cool to meet some of the ones who were there from the very beginning. It was like a giant family reunion.”
Allocco said this event proved being a part of the swimming team at New Paltz is being a part of a caring environment.
“It kind of showed once a Hawk, always a Hawk,” she said. “We can really say that to recruits now and be like I’m so proud to be a part of this program.”
Whitbeck said he is impressed with first-year distance free swimmer Ann Fici, who beat the entire team in a set of workouts two weeks ago. On the men’s side, he said he’s expecting big seasons from second-year free and fly swimmer Rod Taskindoust, fourth-year free swimmer Matt Distler, second-year breast swimmer Tom Anderson and fourth-year sprint free swimmer Austin Collins.
Allocco said she’d like to make nationals again this year and have the team send more people to nationals than last season.
“Last year we got five girls to nationals, I would like to get six or seven,” she said. “I think we could get another relay to go. Last year we only brought one and I think we can bring two to nationals this year, which would be awesome.”
Whitbeck said this year’s Women’s team could send “more people to nationals than ever before.”
“I think we can improve from last year,” he said. “If we have the best times from everybody this season, this can be in terms of talent and depth one of the best seasons in program history.”
Whitbeck believes the Men’s team can take the next step in their progression this year, he said.
“I’d really love to see us place third or fourth in SUNYACs and send a relay or two to nationals,” he said. “I really think we can get there.”