WOMEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING: BSU begins season admist change

Cards open 2009-10 campaign Friday at home against Toledo

This year has been a year of change: ushered in with a new President whose campaign was centered on ‘Hope' and ‘Change.'

Even locally, 2009 saw the beginning of a new era for the Ball State University football team and even saw the women's basketball team defeat the best program in the sport's history in the NCAA tournament.

Much of the same can be said for this year's women's swimming and diving team. Changes have come about for this year's squad — the most notable being the men and women's teams splitting into separate teams.

Along with the splitting, former co-head coaches Bob Thomas and Laura Seibold-Caudill each took a team, with Seibold-Caudill taking the reigns of the women's team, a post she held from 1979-2004 when the teams were combined. During the time of the combined teams, Seibold-Caudill was in charge of the divers while Thomas coached the swimmers.

"I'm really excited to be working with the swimmers again," Seibold-Caudill said. "Of course I'm going to miss working directly with the divers but I will still be overseeing it."

During the offseason, Seibold-Caudill and Thomas pooled their funds to hire a grad assistant coach, Ryan Fillmann. A 1995 Muncie Central graduate, Fillmann has competed for and worked under Olympic diving coaches Vince Panzano and John Wingfield. Seibold-Caudill said Fillmann will be able to strengthen an already strong women's Ball State diving team.

In years past, the co-ed team held two practices: one for the distance swimmers and one for the sprinters. Now, the men practice at one time and the women practice at another. Seibold-Caudill said that four weeks into practice, each athlete sat down with the coaches to discuss goals for the season. At these meetings, every athlete talked about how much they enjoyed practicing under the new format.

"Everyone said how much better they liked the new practice format because they had gotten to know everybody on the team, and some of the top swimmers said they were excited to finally be able to lead their lane," Seibold-Caudill said.

Seibold-Caudill said she hopes the changes will be enough to help the team raise from its eighth place showing at last year's Mid-American Conference Championship. The biggest thing that Seibold-Caudill said her team needs to do is place in the top 16 in every event at the MAC Championship.

"We're working on fine-tuning things like starts, turns and finishes to try to make sure that the 17th and 18th place finishes last year don't happen again," Seibold-Caudill said. "We need to move out of eighth place. That to me is unacceptable. I don't want to be in eighth place anymore than any of these ladies do and we are going to do whatever we can to move out of it."

A big boost for the team this year is a talented senior class.

"Our eight seniors are hard workers; they're our leaders," Seibold-Caudill said. "They are the ones that are here every day training hard, and they are the ones getting it done and are going to make the difference."

The class is led by diver Lisa Maertin, who has qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Meet the last two seasons and was a top-eight finisher in both the 1- and 3-meter boards.

"Lisa is doing great. I'd say she is ahead of where she was this time last year," Seibold-Caudill said. "I think she has a chance to be top 3 in the conference and that's a goal for her."

The Cardinals will also be led by fellow senior Mary Ehresman. Ehresman holds the Ball State record in the 400-yard individual medley and was named the team's most valuable swimmer last season.

"Our goal is for her to score in the top eight, and last year she did," Seibold-Caudill said. "She scored in the top eight in the 200 fly and the 400 IM, and we hope she'll be able to improve on that this year."

The Cardinals also have the added benefit of a strong freshman class. Seibold-Caudill said the freshman class doesn't have one standout swimmer but boasts many strong swimmers.

"The whole group of freshmen, they are training hard, they're working hard and they are very equal," Seibold-Caudill said. "They are all going to add a lot of depth, but it is up to them which one is going to step up and place in the top eight, top 16 in the conference. I can't honestly tell you who it will be because they are that equal."

The Cardinals will be without one record setter from last season in Emily Haifley, who broke the 200-yard breaststroke record last season. Seibold-Caudill said Haifley decided not to return to Ball State for her sophomore campaign so she could be closer to her family. Despite the departure of Haifley, Ball State still has senior Emily Karwoski, who owned the 200-yard breaststroke record for a few hours during the MAC Championship before it was re-broken by Haifley.

"Emily Haifley was a big loss, but we have Emily Karwoski and she's just right there and I think she wants it even more. She's hungry for it this year," Seibold-Caudill said.

Ball State will open its season against the University of Toledo at 6 p.m. Friday in Lewellen Pool.


More from The Daily

Loading Recent Classifieds...