SPORTS

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October 26, 2007

Women's swimming at a glance

The Recap:

Last season, women’s swimming surprised everyone, including its new head coach, when the squad started strong and kept up the momentum to take home its highest ever UAA finish. The year marked a huge turnaround for the Maroons who had long been drowning against the league’s powerhouses.

This season will test whether Chicago can pick up where it left off and continue to make waves in 2007­­­­­­–2008.

Strengths:

The surest sign that the Maroons are poised for a big move is the number of impressive recruits now looking to line the decks of Myers-McLoraine Pool. Over the past couple of years, top-notch swimmers have been making their way to Chicago for its high academic standing and state-of-the-art facility.

Best of all, interest keeps mounting, with more recruit visits this fall than in all of last year. That’s a huge vote of confidence that the South Siders are breaking free from the dregs of the league standings and aren’t looking back.

“Now we’re a team where everyone knows we have some of the best swimmers in the country,” head coach Jason Weber said of the roster transformation. “The team knows that we’re not underdogs anymore.”

Weaknesses:

Counterbalancing the squad’s high hopes are the same schedule challenges as the men’s side. With official practices beginning October 1, the Maroons had just over a month to get ready for Wheaton this Saturday.

In the rush to get into race form, Chicago focused on strengthening the legs to pack a lot of power behind the stroke. Also on the preseason agenda was making sure the squad started with a strong foundation of doing all of the little things right. While times may be a little off the mark at the beginning, the Maroons should start shaving seconds off the clock within the next few meets.

Who to watch: Ellie Elgamal

On the deepest, most talented class to come to Hyde Park, first-year Ellie Elgamal stands a cut above the rest. Last season she posted times that would’ve qualified her for NCAAs, and this year she has already shown flashes of a potential All-American. Elgamal burst onto the Chicago scene during an intersquad meet where she broke the school record for the 100-yard butterfly, her primary event.

“Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come,” Weber said of the strong early performance.

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