By Marc Weems
After a successful season last year under Head Coach Matt Anderson, the Youngstown State University swimming and diving team finished sixth in the Horizon League. Now under a new coach, Ryan Purdy, the expectations are as high as ever.
“As a first-year head coach, the goals are to keep moving forward. I believe that we have all the resources here to compete for a conference title,” Purdy said. “We also believe we can be represented nationally.”
Purdy also said that “making any small steps” has become the goal each and every day.
Behind the Penguins’ improved play will be seniors as YSU returns six seniors that include Viktoria Orosz and Kolbrun Jonsdottir. Those girls will help anchor the Penguins’ improvement.
“Leading by example for sure. We have really serious goals for ourselves,” Orosz said about being a senior leader. “This team can achieve anything. I just want to close with the best year I can.”
Last season, Orosz finished with three Top-7 finishes at the Horizon League Championships. She also finished with seven event wins for the entire year.
Another key piece to YSU’s success last year was Jonsdottir who won two individual events last year and was part of multiple top finishing relay teams.
“I just expect us to go as fast as we can go,” Jonsdottir said about her expectations of the team. “We have a new coach which makes everything very exciting.”
Jonsdottir said that one major difference from last year is the practicing.
“In the mornings we focus more on individual events. I’m a sprinter so I train with the sprinters in the morning. In the afternoon, we go all together. Last year, those things were flipped.”
She also said that the team focuses on one thing at time instead of everything at once.
To go along with the six seniors, this team also has seven freshmen.
“I think swimming is nice because we have a lot of steps to go through,” Purdy said. “We have a dual meet on Friday. The idea is to try and be better than they were last year. In two weeks, let’s be better than we were this Friday.”
Purdy’s idea for the team is to eventually win the conference but he understands that won’t happen overnight.
“Keep our eyes toward the end of the season but also, celebrate the small victories along the way,” Purdy said.
Purdy came over from the University of Minnesota. He was an assistant there and helped the program win multiple championships.
“He is very positive around us and has tried to make the change easier,” Orosz said about having a new coach. “He’s not strict about the changes right away because we still need to adjust to them. I think that has been a big help.”
Along with Orosz and Jonsdottir, Madison Aranda, Bethany Glick, Rachel Shipp, and McKenzie Stelter are all going to lead the Penguins to a change in the guard at YSU.
“I think this is a long-term goal. We want to shoot for third and then eventually first,” Jonsdottir said about the team’s goals. “I feel like that everybody has that inside of their heads. It’s really exciting to focus on getting better. I think we have a chance to improve.”
Jonsdottir also said that the key to everything is that everyone helps each other. She noted that most freshmen never get into such high-pressure events as the meets that happen in college.
YSU’s first meet is a dual meet at the University of Akron on Friday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.