By Marc Weems
In an era where swimming and diving programs are disappearing and losing money, Youngstown State University decided to fund the redevelopment of the Natatorium inside Beeghly Center. That showed this program everything it needed going into Head Coach Ryan Purdy’s second season at the helm.
“We are all working really hard in the pool right now,” senior swimmer Taylor Tofil said. “The expectations are that we will be rested up for conference and for our midseason invite coming up. We will swim a little faster and get where we want to be.”
Tofil is one of just four seniors on the team, while there are nine freshmen on the team including diver Tess Weiskopf, who was named Women’s Diver of the Week for the week of Oct. 16.
“Right now, [it’s about] getting used to stuff and preparing,” Weiskopf said about preparing for the grind of the full season. “The first two weeks were tough to transition since I’m from New York, so being away from was tough. Everything has settled down now, I think just training as hard as we can for the CSU Invite.”
The Penguins were projected last in the Horizon League behind the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of Illinois Chicago.
“That’s the goal here that going into my second year as head coach, the goal is to move up,” said Purdy. “We are working really hard to change the culture and have expectations to move up. In swimming and diving, it takes a little more time than in other sports. We are taking 18 people to the conference championship. Having a core group of 18 that can contribute is the goal moving forward.”
YSU has competed in four meets so far without any wins, but wins aren’t the only goal during this part of the season.
“We want to move up and not be at the bottom of our conference again,” senior swimmer Rachel Shipp said. “We have all the potential to do that. All of our dual meets are practice for us. It’s not like football where every game counts. Even if we don’t win every single meet, we can still win our conference. It’s about practicing individually and as a team.”
YSU now has one more regular meet against Bowling Green State University on Nov. 10 before they go to the Cleveland State University Magnus Cup Invitational on Nov. 16 through 18.
Not only is it a new season for the Penguins, but their facility is revamped and looks great. For everyone involved, it’s about time.
“Especially for me, this is my fifth year here, I’ve been waiting for this for four years now,” Shipp said. “I’ve practiced with the horrible blocks that we had before. The timing system didn’t work and the pool was a mess. Now, to have such a remodeled and up-to-date facility just makes it that much easier to practice.”
For Purdy and his Penguins team, the only way to go is up and that seems to be something that everyone shares as the freshmen class was his first recruiting class at YSU.
“The upperclassmen are continuing to develop and the core group of freshmen, there are 10 of them and one transfer student, are doing a great job and continue to work with the upperclassmen,” Purdy said. “The program is going to be much different in four years when they are seniors than what it is now.”
Despite not winning any meets yet, YSU has competed well in all four so far. For Tofil, every meet is important no matter the implications of it.
“Honestly, we treat every dual meet kind of the same, whether it is conference or not. Compared to basketball, we don’t have as many meets/games as them so we have to go into every meet ready to go,” Tofil said.
YSU has two tournaments before getting the month of December off in preparation for the conference slate.