Author: Oliver Field
The Occidental swimming and diving teams look to improve with their new head coach and director of aquatics, Shea Manning. Manning comes to the swimming and diving program with tremendous experience both in and out of the pool. As a swimmer at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps during college, Manning has known the SCIAC and Occidental for a while, however he spent time as assistant coach at CMS for two years before going to NCAA Division I George Washington University last year. Manning is excited for his first season as a head coach as he has always admired the Tigers’ spirit.
“I was always impressed with the high amount of positive energy from the Oxy Teams, regardless of where they were in the standings, and I am excited to use that energy as a launching pad for aggressive training and successful recruiting so that every year we are challenging the likes of CMS and Redlands at the top of the conference,” Manning said.
Women’s Swimming (2-0)
In the opening meet of the season at the Redlands Pentathlon, the Tigers put some good performances on the board to start the year off right. Mallory Ryan (senior) led the way for Occidental with her tenth place finish overall out of over 100 participants. She took third in the 100-yard fly event. Meanwhile, defending SCIAC breaststroke champion Caroline Chang (sophomore) took fifteenth overall with a sixth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Emily Watkins (first-year) finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Chang would again put on a stellar performance in the next event, the Orange County Invitational. The sophomore took first place in the 200-yard breast stroke and sixth in the 100-yard backstroke. Ryan chipped in with a strong 200-yard butterfly, enough to take 3rd place in the event.
“We are gradually building our confidence in competition,” Manning said.
The SCIAC opener for the Tigers went smoothly, with the women recording a strong victory over Cal Lutheran University. Ryan and Juliet Suess (sophomore) each won two individual events to lead the Tiger charge on the way to a team win. Ryan won the 200-yard butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle, while Suess took the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. The pair finished first and second in the 200-yard freestyle, with Ryan just edging the defending SCIAC champion for the win.
Manning believes that these wins will give the team momentum heading into some tough competition against SCIAC’s premier schools, and that the combination of Ryan, Suess and Chang can be a powerful step forward.
“We really look for them to be leaders and really trail blaze this program, especially with such a young core,” Manning said.
Going up against SCIAC powerhouse Redlands University wasn’t the easiest task for the Tigers, but they got the job done. One day after defeating Cal Lutheran at home, the team traveled to Redlands with the hopes of making it two in a row. Coach Manning made some strategic decisions to spread his swimmers out, to give the team the opportunity to win every individual race. Most of the contributions came from the usual suspects, with Ryan winning three events, Suess winning two, and Chang added another, but the Tigers got support from others as well. Jessica Robson (sophomore) won the diving competition to earn 18 points for Occidental and helped seal the win.
Men’s Swimming (0-2)
The team has started the season off well with some impressive individual performances leading the way for the Tigers. In the first meet of the season, the Redlands Pentathalon, Steven Van Deventer (first-year) lead the charge for Occidental, finishing 15 out of 80 competitors, with his best race a second-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The next event for the Tigers was the Orange County Invitational, which produced some solid performances by many of the more seasoned swimmers. Zachary Condon (senior) led the charge this time with a fifth place finish in the 200-yard backstroke and sixth in the 500-yard freestyle. Fellow senior Alex Budig put in similar strong performances, taking seventh in the 100-yard backstroke and eighth in the 200-yard backstroke. Spencer Whalen (junior) took care of the distance events for the Tigers, where he finished fourth in the 1000-yard freestyle and eighth in the 500-yard freestyle.
As the SCIAC competition has proven tough, the opener against Cal Lutheran University was no different. In the home opener of the season, the Tigers once again had shining moments with individual performances but ultimately were unable to pull off the victory, falling 145-89.
Van Deventer again recorded a strong showing, this time taking first place in the 200-yard breast stroke while Stephen Ratkovich (junior) took first in the 50-yard freestyle and Ben Sullivan (sophomore) took first in the 200-yard fly. Most recently the Tigers faced off against league powerhouse Redlands. Again there were strong individual performances by Van Deventer and others, but the Bulldogs got an early lead that Occidental could not overcome.
Occidental will look to turn these individual successes into team victories as they continue a trying SCIAC schedule.
The teams will face La Verne on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 11 a.m.
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