Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s swimming and diving looking for seventh-straight A-10 Championship

The Massachusetts men’s swimming and diving team heads into the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship on Feb. 20 as the favorite to win its seventh-consecutive tournament title.

UMass coach Russ Yarworth described his team’s mentality as a “relaxed intensity” and seemed very confident the Minutemen will come out of the tournament victoriously.

“The mentality is something that has built through the course of many seasons but certainly this individual season,”  he said.

Senior swimmer Tim O’Neill expects to bring home his fourth-straight A-10 title and anything short of first place is a failure in his eyes.

“The A-10s are the main focus we have had all year,” he said. “There’s nothing else after it, so you really have to approach it as live or die.”

Because UMass has been competing in meets since the middle of October, Yarworth has had his team in a resting or “taper” period in order to let his swimmers better prepare their bodies for the championship.

“We are starting to rest and relax our bodies,” he said. “We spend less time in the pool because, if we have them do too much, they don’t rest. I really have to tell myself to step back, and not have them over train.”

Yarworth said he is most looking forward to seeing how his strong freshman class of four swimmers and one diver fares at its first tournament. Free swimmer Alessandro Bomprezzi and diver Josh Koppel are two of the underclassmen that the coach feels should shine under the conference spotlight.

“Every year you kind of step back and watch the freshmen because you haven’t seen them in the conference competition yet,” Yarworth said. “The way they all have performed this season proves that we should see some special things out of them.”

Junior Chris Inglis, who has been a part of the last two A-10 championship teams, believes that the Minutemen have a superior team this season compared to the past.

“We have a stronger team, it looks like, this year than the other years,” Inglis, who hold school records in the 1000- and 1650-yard freestyle, said. “We only graduated two swimmers last year and we have a really strong group of freshmen.”

UMass’ top competition for the title will be St. Bonaventure, who, in 2006, was the last team apart from the Minutemen to win the tournament.

“St. Bonaventure has come in second the past few years,” O’Neill said. “They beat us in 2006, when our assistant coach (A.J. Vozella) was on the team and he tells us how bad it was to lose by just nine points. We don’t want that to happen to us.”

“St. Bonaventure is loaded this year,” Yarworth said. “They have a great freshman class, some great returning swimmer and great coaching … So it should be a fun tournament.”

Chris Corso can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Corso.

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