Jan. 30, 2015
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – There are more than a few ways to measure the improvement in Marshall’s swimming and diving program.
As the Herd wraps up its regular season Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fitch Natatorium in a dual meet against Conference USA foe Western Kentucky, you can use the improved times and career-best swims across the board to gauge the growth in Coach Bill Tramel’s program.
The ultimate measuring stick will come Feb. 18-21, when the Herd women head to the Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn., with WKU, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion, North Texas and Rice for the C-USA Championships.
It’s not just news like Marshall’s 848-point improvement from one December earlier in Akron’s Zippy Invitational that shows the advancement in Marshall’s “water world.”
Borrowing with a twist from the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis’ mantra … It’s just wins, baby!
And when you look at the 2014-15 Herd through that prism, you really see not only how Marshall is more successful – and significantly – in the pool, but the depth on the roster and potential for the future.
Entering the meet against WKU, Marshall swimmers and divers have a combined 40 individual victories (not including relays) in nine meets this season. Combine that with 59 second-place finishes and 50 third-place touches.
Add relay firsts, seconds and thirds, and those numbers grow to 48, 64 and 58, respectively.
In individual events, the Herd received top-three finishes from 17 swimmers and three divers. And among those 20 were eight freshmen from Tramel’s strong 11-person recruiting class of 2014. Three more freshmen had hands in relay success. Freshmen won 27 individual events and swam legs in 13 relay wins.
Breaking down individual success, freshman breaststroker/freestyler/IM’er Nele Albers of Germany dominates the Herd’s numbers – 10 individual wins, 11 seconds and four thirds. She’s also been part of wins in three relays.
Madi Pulfer of Ottawa, Ontario, has mostly backstroked her way to success, too. She has five wins, eight seconds and two thirds, and also has been part of three relays victories. Another Canadian, Emma Lockyer of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has three wins, seven seconds and six thirds in butterfly and freestyle. Lockyer also has two wins in relays.
The list doesn’t end there.
Bulgaria native Gloriya Mavrova has three wins, seven seconds and six thirds individually, mostly in freestyle, and has helped relays to 11 top-three finishes, too. The only Marshall swimmer with more top-three finishes in relay legs is senior freestyler Lauren Hurd, with 12.
The Herd loses only five seniors, and the most significant of those in this season’s improvement are distance freestyler Kaley Gregory (four wins, five seconds, six thirds) and Kacey Preun, who has three individual victories to go with six seconds and five thirds in breaststroke and freestyle events.
But it’s not just the MU freshmen – with their 40 individual victories -- who are putting their names into the top-20 times lists in school history early in their collegiate careers. Fitch Natatorium should have plenty of competition in workouts in coming seasons, too, because Tramel’s sophomore group is more than solid.
Danica Ross, Chloe Parsemain and Mikaya Reynolds have had the most success in the sophomore class this season.
Marshall has eight top-five times in C-USA this season to date. That’s something different, too. In its nine appearances in the C-USA Championships, the Herd has finished in last place six times and second last once. Whether the 2014-15 regular-season success translates in the league meet in three weeks will be intriguing to watch.
The numbers, however, do show Marshall swimming and diving is learning to win.