For women’s swimming, fate rests on first-years

By Kate Fratar

The Maroons will lean on the support of a crop of rookies while they adjust to their new head coach and train alongside male teammates after a three-year separation of the two squads.

So far, the big experiment has reaped big results for the young squad, with the Maroons going undefeated this season, posting a 3–0 record after floundering to a 2–7 finish in 2005.

“They’re doing really well,” head coach Jason Weber said. “A lot of them are putting up times now that they weren’t doing until the tour’s end of the season last year.”

While surpassing last season’s win mark just two meets into 2006 is a step in the right direction, there’s still plenty of work left for Chicago. The real measure of how far the team has come won’t be revealed until the UAA championships, when the South Siders will try to break from their status as a conference bottom dweller.

Last season, the Maroons took a step up at the league showdown when they finished seventh after falling dead last the two previous years. If the team can build off of 2005’s showing and continue its improvement, it will be partly thanks to the seven rookies on the roster.

“We’ve got a very solid group of freshman girls, who will definitely help us a lot and should score at conference,” said Weber, who served as an assistant for the previous two seasons under former men’s head coach George Villareal.

The newcomers have already showed that they are the driving force behind the Maroons this fall, claiming six of the squad’s nine top finishes in its two meets. While the women’s side lacks the same depth as the men’s team and doesn’t have the same high postseason expectations, the future is bright for a program that can attract this kind of talent to Hyde Park.

“I actually think the women’s team may be better than the men’s next year based on the recruiting pull. The girls who are telling me they want to come here if they can get in, if we get them, then we’ll be a top team right away,” Weber said.

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