In the Big East championships last year, respectively, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are aiming to improve their performances after historical seasons.
The men, who took the Big East crown in 2018 to become back-to-back conference champions have only eight swimmers on the roster from their championship unit. That’s the same amount of freshman who will race for the first time this year for the Pirates. The surplus of youth has the squad leaning on captains Liam Cosgrove and Josh Tosoni to direct the underclassmen.
“(The underclassmen are) looking at them as far as setting the tempo and tone of everything and having a positive outlook every day,” said coach Derek Sapp.
Restoring the program as perennial championship contenders also has Seton Hall in a critical mindset as the season shortly approaches.
“We take care of business here with what we are doing in and out of the pool and in practice every day, whether it is in practice or the weight room, them just having a positive attitude throughout the season,” Sapp said.
Diver Tim Lynch has faith in the program and expects the men to return to their level of two years prior.
“I think the swimmers will place top two in the Big East, hopefully first,” Lynch said.
Five main factors to a successful campaign will be the performances of Ben Puglessi, Ben LaClair and Sam Hendrix, along with Cosgrove and Tosoni. All five were All-Big East last season, with all of them earning the distinction for at least three different races. The depth of the program best showcases the talent the roster holds, which offers an assortment of options on the path to become the best in the Big East again.
The women also have multiple newcomers, as seven freshmen will be swimming in South Orange for the first time. With barely any losses on the roster, the fight to become major proponents for the swimmers and divers has brought excitement to Sapp.
“We have a lot of new faces coming in this year and we only graduated one girl from our scoring roster,” Sapp said. “Looking to make a very large jump. Everyone is buying in and then believing in that. It is a competitive atmosphere.”
Similar to the men, captains Jordan Decker and Gabby Van Tassell have been an inspiration to the new faces.
“They are doing a great job making sure people have the right mindset,” Sapp said. “It all starts from the top on down.”
Decker, the only swimmer on the roster who is All-Big East in three different races, will be the intergral contributor of the team. The other returners who should have an impact are Clara Capone, Elizabeth Sargent and Julie Stankiewicz. All three are the only other returners to also have multiple All-Big East performances in races.
With the amount of talent coming back into the pool for Seton Hall, Lynch knows what to expect from both the men and the women this season.
“We are going to be a tough contender,” Lynch said.
The first meet of the year for both the men and women this season is Oct. 5 against in-state rival Rider.
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @robert_fallo.