By Christina Sainovich
The Youngstown State University swim and dive team has a whole new look this season under first-year head coach Brad Smith and with the addition of a men’s swim team.
YSU previously had a men’s swim and dive team from 1964-1984. In its first year back, 10 male swimmers joined the women’s team in hopes of winning a conference championship.
Smith and his staff have brought a more positive attitude than the team has experienced in previous years.
Junior freestyler Kat Keller said there is a much more positive atmosphere in the pool and on the deck this season.
“Our coaches are so much more encouraging of us, and they’re also so much more supportive. So by having that in practice it’s been a completely different environment by actually feeling like we should be there and we are appreciated by being there,” Keller said.
The negativity on the team last season took an effect on the swimmers, and the women hope this year will be different.
“I know we want to do better than we did last year. We all struggled towards the end. It’s very tiring, and we struggled to hold on by the end of it,” Keller said.
Smith said he believes the team has more than enough talent to be competitive in the Horizon League and win the championship meet.
“We’ve got quite a few standouts. Tiphaine Saint-Gilles, she’s a standout as a breaststroker on the team,” Smith said.
Saint-Gilles finished sixth in the 200-yard breaststroke at the Horizon League Championships last season. She will look to build on that as she enters her senior season at YSU.
While the men’s team is making its return from a 35-year hiatus, the members have set high goals for themselves.
Freshman Wilson Cannon said that their training is more intense than anything he has experienced before, and they expect to be successful.
“We’ve set a few goals. … We really want to win a conference championship, and we really want to get a first place relay at conference championships,” Cannon said.
Last weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams traveled to Marshall University for the first meet of the season. The women were able to compete against Marshall. The men’s team held a time trial meet because Marshall does not have a men’s program.
In the first meet, Saint-Gilles brought home the lone first-place finish for the women in the 200-yard breaststroke.
Meanwhile, the men competed in a time trials, and their times will be official with the Horizon League and the NCAA.
This weekend, the entire team will travel to Pittsburgh to take on both the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.
Freshman Ryan Scherer said that the team felt good in the time trial and against Marshall, but the members are tired and sore from practices.
“We all share the same mindset on that. It’s just the ability to swim against other teams and see how we can do. Yet again, it’s more of a mind over matter type of meet,” Scherer said.