By Geoffrey Knight
The Albion swimming and diving team has to compensate for the graduation of last year’s senior class.
Nine swimmers graduated last year including two national qualifiers. Ashley Collins `11 alum and Scott Venettis `11 alum each qualified for the 2011 NCAA swimming and diving championship in the breast stroke last season.
“Losing those seniors is certainly going to hurt us because they were awfully good swimmers,” said coach Keith Havens. “Ashley Collins was the best breast stroker we have ever had here at Albion.”
Some swimmers are competing in unfamiliar events to make up for the loss of seniors. Former captain Peter Lundholm ’11 alum was the main male freestyle distance swimmer last year. Thor Person, Bloomfield Hills sophomore, swims distance free style as opposed to sprint freestyle in his absence.
“Peter was our best distance swimmer last year,” said Person. “Me and Will (Schmidt, Rochester sophomore), pretty much have to replace him now. There is definitely a gap where the distance is.”
The team will have to continue to adjust when coach Havens retires at the end of the season. Havens has run the Albion swimming and diving program for the past 27 years.
“The team is going to completely change,” Rachael Restum, East Lansing senior and captain of the women’s team said. “He’s been coaching the program for 27 years so things have been his way for that long. The new coach will most likely bring in a newer and completely different style of coaching.”
Although the team is suffering losses of the previous senior class and coach Havens, the Britons still expect to have a strong season this year. Landon Lefler, Okemos first year and Brad Melpolder, Hamilton sophomore are expected to be key contributors to the team.
“Landon Lefler is going to be one of our best breast strokers; he has been working really hard so far this year,” said Havens. “Brad Melpolder is going to be a force in the league; he has already scored one of the fastest scores in the 400 IM in Albion history.”
The Brits compete against Kalamazoo College in a dual meet tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. in their first conference meet of the season.