When the Valparaiso Crusaders dive into the water for the 2009-2010 season, head coach Howard Hunte will see a youthful team look to build upon 11 school records which were set one year ago when the Brown and Gold finished in sixth place in the Horizon League. Hunte enters the season with just one senior and three juniors on his squad, so he will have to look toward the underclassmen to make a mark as the season unfolds. Hunte does return eight letterwinners for the upcoming season, and has brought in four newcomers as well, with the hopes that they are able to make an immediate impact upon the Crusader program.
Valpo has just one senior on the roster for the upcoming season, but he is a talented one. Blake Edwards has swum every freestyle event in the program throughout his career, and posted the fourth best 500 free time in school history one year ago in addition to the ninth fastest 100 free mark ever. He also posted a top-10 mark all-time in the 200 free in 2008-2009, despite missing the fall semester while studying abroad.
Edwards helped the Crusaders set a pair of relay records during his junior campaign as a member of both the 200 and 800 freestyle teams which set the marks at the Horizon League Championships. As he enters his final season with the Brown and Gold, Edwards looks to continue to climb Valpo’s all-time lists.
Three juniors are set for their third year with the Crusaders, led by David Sivak, who has broke numerous records at Valpo in his first two seasons. Sivak has competed in nearly every event on the schedule for the Brown and Gold, and is the school record-holder in three individual events and four relays.
As a sophomore, Sivak set new school marks in the 100 and 200 freestyle as well as the 200 individual medley individually while posting the second best 500 free time ever. He also notched the third quickest 50 free mark in school laurels, and ranks second all-time in the 100 breaststroke. The all-around swimmer also ranks in the top-10 in school history in the 400 individual medley, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, and 200 breaststroke.
Sivak also competed on the 200, 400, and 800 freestyle relays that set school records at the Horizon League Championships a year ago as well as the 400 medley relay.
Sivak’s classmates, Toshko Ganzorigt and James Shang, added depth to the Crusader roster when they arrived as international students at Valpo. Both have competed for the Brown and Gold the past two seasons, dropping their times immensely last season. Ganzorigt competes mainly in the breaststroke along with some sprint free events while Shang is just a sprint freestyler.
Hunte has four sophomores on the roster in 2009-2010 that gained their first experience of collegiate swimming a year ago. Trevor Trimpe was a member of the record-setting 200 medley relay for the Crusaders, and competed in freestyle and breaststroke events during his rookie season. Trimpe posted the fifth fastest 500 free mark in school history at the Horizon League Championships in addition to the eighth fastest 200 breaststroke mark ever at Valpo.
Austin Hunter also joined the all-time list in Crusader swimming history as a rookie, swimming the fourth fastest 100 butterfly mark ever. The multifaceted swimmer also moved onto the charts in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, and contributed to the school records in all five relays as a freshman.
Nathan Brewer also got his first taste of college swimming in 2008-2009, competing mainly in backstroke and butterfly events for the Brown and Gold. He, like many of the other Crusaders, peaked at the end of the season last year, posting three of his season’s best marks at the Horizon League Championships.
Valpo’s fourth sophomore, Thomas Patrick, also provided depth in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. Like Brewer, he had a solid conference championship, posting three of his best times of the season at the meet.
Four freshmen join the Crusaders swimming and diving program for the upcoming season, looking to make their mark and place their names on the Valpo top-10 list like many of their teammates. Steve Booth is a freestyle and butterfly competitor who qualified for the state championships three times in Michigan during his prep career. Kevin Fedde joins Booth in the free and fly events for the upcoming season and will also see some action in the backstroke. Fedde qualified for the Colorado state championships twice during his high school career, competing in both individual and relay events for Loveland High School.
Andrew Hipskind will also compete in some backstroke events for the Brown and Gold during his rookie season in addition to freestyle. He helped set a pair of school records in relay events at New Palestine High School in Indiana and was a conference champion in the 400 freestyle relay.
Valpo’s final freshman, Ryan Burling, is a freestyle and breaststroke swimmer. He swam the breast leg of the 200 medley relay for Morris Community High School in Illinois, helping the Redskins set a new school mark for the event.
The 2009-2010 season begins on October 9 for the Brown and Gold as the Crusaders compete at the Dennis Stark Relays hosted by Notre Dame. The entire meet is a relay format, allowing the newcomers to get a taste of collegiate swimming before heading into individual events. A day later the Crusaders will head to the Indiana Intercollegiates hosted by Purdue before coming home on October 24 for a dual meet against Wright State at the Athletics-Recreation Center pool.
Valpo will also compete at both the Calvin and Ball State Invitationals in addition to several other dual meets throughout the season, and host Western Illinois on February 6 in the final regular season meet of the year prior to the Horizon League Championships in Chicago, Ill. on February 24-27.
Even though the squad size is small for the upcoming season, head coach Howard Hunte has a great deal of talent on the roster. When the season comes to a close, look for several more records to be rewritten in addition to numerous additions to the top-10 list.