Eastern Michigan Swimming Opens Season With Northwestern at Home

YPSILANTI, Michigan, October 15. Eastern Michigan University’s men’s swimming and diving team is ready to take on the 2014-15 campaign, and will lift the lid on the fresh season with a home opener against Big Ten opponent Northwestern University. The matchup between the Eagles and the Wildcats is slated for Thursday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. inside the friendly confines of Jones Natatorium.

The two teams have not had a storied past, swimming just six duals in the history of the programs. Northwestern holds a 4-2 all-time advantage, with Eastern’s two wins coming in the 2002-03 and 2012-13 seasons. The Wildcats first tangled with the Eagles during the 1966-67 season, when Eastern suffered a 34-70 setback. The teams would not face each other in a dual for 36 years, when Eastern equalized the record with a 133-108 victory. Last year, the Eagles dropped a 128.5-160.5 decision in Evanston, Ill.

Northwestern finished ninth at the 2014 Big Ten Championships, but the roster features a number of impressive athletes to watch. Most notably, the ‘Cats have junior Jordan Wilimovsky to set the pace in the distance events. The Malibu, Calif. native broke the NU record in the 1650 free at the B1G Championships to take second and earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. After finishing fourth in the nation, Wilimovsky was recently named to the USA Swimming National Team.

Head Coach Peter Linn’s squad returns the vast majority of its 2014 Mid-American Conference Championships performers, including all the Eagles named to the All-MAC teams in Cole Bateman(Hutchinson, Minn.-Hutchinson), Alex Chan (Toronto, Ontario-Neil McNeil Catholic), Mike Fisher(Saline, Mich.-Saline), Krzysztof Gilski (Dywity, Poland-Adam Mickiewicz State Secondary), Erik Gissen (Karlstad, Sweden-Alvkullegymnasiet), Andrew Henry (Garner, N.C.-West Johnston), andBrian Moore (Anthem, Ariz.-Boulder Creek). Fisher and Gilski will look to remain among the top breaststroke and butterfly competitors in the conference after breaking the EMU records in their 100 and 200-yard events.

Fisher was crowned a double MAC champion in the breaststroke events with marks that not only top the Eastern record books but also set the standard for the conference. He broke the 13-year-old 100 breast record with a win in 53.94 before he finished nearly two seconds ahead of the field in the 200 breast in 1:56.82. Gilski earned a MAC Championship title in the 200 fly in 1:46.01 and finished runner-up in the 100 fly in an EMU record-breaking mark of 48.05 seconds. One more Eagle earned the title of a MAC champion, as Chan continued his stellar rookie season by winning the 3-meter dive with 409.80 points.

With few seniors graduating and 12 freshmen vying for a spot in the water, the Eagles should have a solid group to compete for a MAC Championship title come March.

SPRINTS/MIDDLE DISTANCE FREESTYLE
The team has been hit considerably in the 50 free with the graduation of Dexter Foos and Gus Everson, but many Eagles remain as top contenders in the shortest of events. Gissen had strong times last season when he took on the 50 free, with a season-best time of 20.99 in a victory against Oakland, Nov. 9.

Henry and Moore had immense success in both the 100 and 200 free last season, and are primed to keep their dominance among their upcoming competitors. Moore finished third at the MAC Championships in both events, while Henry was the victor in the 200 free six times during the regular season. Either one could be seen in the events, as the pair of athletes is often called upon to compete in a variety of races throughout the year.

DISTANCE
The Green and White has not lost any of its distance swimmers from the 2013-14 campaign, and will look primarily to Kyle Lichtenberg (Clarkston, Mich.-Homeschool), Franco Petrone (Etobicoke, Ontario-Silverthorne Collegiate Institute), and Marcin Rzyski (Olsztyn, Poland-Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace #4) in the 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyles. Moore should also see some action in the 500 free after finishing fifth in the conference last season, and Sean Tento (Seattle, Wash.-O’Dea) is expected to compete in distance freestyle events while splitting time with individual medleys.

BUTTERFLY
Gilski is undoubtedly the athlete to watch in the butterfly events, but the Eagles also saw impressive performances out of Gissen. Both athletes posted times last season that put them in the all-time top-10 list for EMU in the 100 fly. The pair made the final heat of the 100 fly at the MAC Championships, scoring exceptionally well for the team. Gilski’s compatriot in Rzyski can also be called upon to compete, as he represented the team in the 200 fly at the conference meet, taking third in the consolation final.

BACKSTROKE
An admirable freshman season came out of Bateman in the backstroke events, who notched a runner-up finish in the 100 back and third in the 200 back. Bateman won the 100 back six times over the course of the regular season and placed in the top-five in every 200 back effort to go along with four wins. In addition to being a threat in butterfly, Gissen was a also strong performer in backstroke at the MAC Championships, competing in the championship final in both the 100 and 200 back. The Eagles also have senior Nate Schingoethe (Lake Park, Ill.-Lake Park) competing in his final season donning the Green and White, who should provide upperclassman leadership for the backstroke squad.

BREASTSTROKE
After winning MAC titles in the 100 and 200 breast while setting EMU and MAC meet records in 2014, Fisher is campaigning for an NCAA Championship appearance to cap off his career as an Eagle. The local product out of Saline, Mich. will race alongside Kyle Aerne (Lake Villa, Ill.-Lakes Community)during his senior season, who won the consolation final of the 100 breast and went on to appear in the championship final as a freshman. The team will also have Grant Schwarz (Greenwood, Ind.-Center Grove) in his final season of competition as the senior has MAC Championship experience under his belt as well.

INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Last season, Henry was the top performer for the Eagles in both the 200 and 400 IM, taking third in both at the MAC Championships. The junior will be looked upon to lead the team in the medley event once more, and could be joined by a number of Eagles. In the 200 IM championship final at the conference meet, Henry swam alongside Bateman while Fisher took fourth in the consolation final. Henry was the lone Eagle in the championship heat for the 400 IM, but distance specialists Lichtenberg and Tento made appearances in the consolation heat.

RELAYS
The Eagles should be solid across the board when it comes to the relays, as the squad finished runner-up in three events at the MAC Championships. The Green and White returns its full teams for the 400 medley (Bateman, Fisher, Gissen, Moore) and 800 free (Henry, Gilski, Petrone, Moore) relays, while Henry and Moore will look for two teammates to fill the spots of Everson and Foos in the 400 free relay. The team had some hiccups in the 200-yard relays, taking fifth in the 200 free relay and fourth in the 200 medley relay, but have a deep roster from which to choose a formidable lineup.

DIVING
The diving squad returns a wealth of experience from the 2013-14 season. Chan returns to improve on an All-MAC and MAC champion freshman year, while classmate Dan Gironza (New Hudson, Mich.-South Lyon) is also coming off two appearances in the championship finals for the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard. A trio of seniors will provide experience and leadership for the squad in Dakoda Johnson(Greenwood, Ind.-Center Grove), Sage Stephens (Warren, Ill.-Warren), and Matt Ventura(Lakewood, Ohio-St. Edward), who all appeared at the conference meet last season.

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