The 2016-2017 season has served as a youth movement for the Seton Hall swimming and diving teams.
With 10 freshmen joining the program on the women’s team and eight on the men’s side, a large majority of the swimmers on the team are underclassmen.
Youth could potentially lead to some growing pains and inconsistency throughout the course of the year, but head coach Ron Farina is happy with where his team is at this point in the season.
“We started out really strong and we’ve been able to maintain that consistency,” Farina said. “It takes a lot of hard work and I feel that they’ve been very consistent.”
Farina, who took home Big East coach of the year honors after the 2015-2016 season, said that he has not had a team with this much youth on it in his 17 years in charge of the Seton Hall swimming and diving program.
Coach Farina also spoke to the importance of recruiting, especially with a freshmen class this large, and their impact in the pool as spoke volumes of their ability to find young talent.
With 18 freshmen joining the program, Farina had to do a lot of recruiting leading up to the year. In order to maintain success, Farina targeted a certain type of swimmer to join the Seton Hall family.
“A lot of it is versatility, a lot of it is clubs and different programs that they come from,” Farina said. “We get a good portion of kids that know kids on our team. They’ve either swam with each other or swam against each other, so they know the rigors of being a Division I athlete.”
Not to be lost in all of the youth is the fact that many accomplished swimmers returned to the team, most notably reigning Big East swimmer of the year Noah Yanchulis, junior captain Cody Wimmer and junior Sydney Simpson.
Yanchulis, Wimmer and Simpson, along with other upperclassmen on the team, played a role in helping the incoming freshmen adjust to the college game.
“As a captain, I feel that the development has been that we are setting a precedent for what the future of the team may be,” Wimmer said. “As not just a captain, but as an upperclassman, usually the upperclassmen guide the freshmen and show them this is how the team acts, this is the way we conduct ourselves.”
For Wimmer, it’s been not just helping them adjust in the pool, but out of it as well.
“We always have an open door to our house off campus.” Wimmer said. “They always have a place to come to talk, hang out, ask questions because sometimes being away from home for the first time is scary, so we want to give them an experience where it’s not quite as intimidating.”
Coming off a successful sophomore year, Yanchulis has provided the underclassmen with some tips and has had a message for them.
“Staying positive is the one thing I preach the most,” Yanchulis said. “People can get down about a bad race or a bad practice and not every day is going to be perfect, so that’s my big thing – telling everyone to stay positive and keep their head up.”
With 40 percent of the women’s team being composed of freshmen, there could have been the potential for the team not to mesh right away. According to Simpson, that was not the case.
“We’ve all mingled together and it hasn’t been a problem coming together as a team.” she said.
Farina has noted the leadership roles that Wimmer, Yanchulis, and Simpson have assumed and he credits them, along with the other upperclassmen, for the smooth transition that the freshmen have had in their time here.
“I think they’ve helped with showing them the ropes, so to speak.” Farina said. “I think the upperclassmen have brought them along and the kids know that they have support from the staff, their teammates, and the administration, and that makes the transition a whole lot easier.”
With the men’s team currently at 9-2 and the women’s team sitting at 7-6, the underclassmen and upperclassmen have put together what has been a good season to this point. Farina has been pleased with the contributions he has gotten from both sides so far.
“I’m very happy with the attitude and effort that they’ve been putting in,” Farina said.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at tyler_calvaruso.