UMass calling on young swimmers to continue strong start to the year

By Tyler Fiedler

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

On a team of 29 swimmers, only four on the Massachusetts men’s swimming and diving team are in their final season in the collegiate pool. And with only six juniors on the team this year, the door is open for 19 underclassmen to lead UMass.

“We expect them to compete now,” diving coach Mandy Hixon said. “They have to be ready to go now.”

In UMass’ first meet of the season last Saturday, the underclassmen showed what they are capable of doing in the pool. Though taking an overall loss against Army, the Minutemen proved there is something to look forward to this season from their young swimmers.

The dive team consists of strictly underclassmen, and gave UMass a strong performance in its first meet. Freshman Trent Kindvall claimed a gold and silver in the first appearance of his collegiate career. Sophomore Robert Berry received gold in the low board, just beating Kindvall 244.20 to 243.37. The trio of Kindvall, Berry and freshman James Albanese all had strong performances to lead the dive team.

“It doesn’t matter what year they are,” Hixon said. “They seem to step up really nicely and assume the role.”

Later in the day, Kindvall earned his gold in the 3-meter board. He blew away the competition with a 44-point win, receiving a score of 271.81. Albanese took third in the event while Berry finished fourth.

But it’s the upperclassmen that set the tone for the young swimmers.

“You get a self-perpetuating culture developed by the kids who have been in the program for a while,” men’s swim coach Russ Yarworth said. “So each time a freshman comes in, they are exposed to that right away and I think that’s what we are seeing develop and will continue to see develop.”

Yarworth believes the younger swimmers will only keep developing as the season progresses.

New Zealand native Oliver Wyeth, a freshman, had a strong day in his first collegiate event. He won his first college race in the 100-meter backstroke, finishing with a final time of 50.75. He defeated school record holder in the event, senior Hao Luong.

Another freshman, Owen Wright, had a solid meet as well. Wright finished as the runner up in the 100 free, and placed third in the 50 free.

“The underclassmen performed really well,” Yarworth said. “I was really happy with the outcome in our first performance (of the season).”

Yarworth went on to say that he expects hard work and good attitude the rest of the way for the Minutemen and thinks this team can only get better.

To cap off the weekend, Kindvall recently received the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors for his performance Saturday against the Black Knights.

The men’s swim team will travel to Boston University on Saturday, Oct 25, where the underclassmen look to continue their hot start.

“We are looking forward to them growing throughout the season,” Hixon said. “For them it is important to continue performing the way they did (in the first meet).”

Tyler can be reached by email [email protected] and on Twitter @Tyler_Fiedler