Lexington, Ky. – The 2017-18 season was one of new beginnings for the Transylvania swimming and diving team, which competed in the inaugural Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in February under the leadership of first-year head coach Dave Doolin.
Now, with just a few days remaining before the Pioneers' first meet of the 2018-19 season, the team is preparing for a new year with lofty goals and expectations shaped by last season's successes and shortcomings.
"I really like the energy this team is showing in practice," said Doolin. "They challenge each other in practice every day, which will make us better as a team. Our goals include scoring more points than we did at the conference championships last year and every swimmer posting their personal best times."
Among the familiar faces on this year's roster are junior Sarah Haerle (Newburgh, Ind. / Castle) and sophomore Drew Dodds (Madisonville, Ky. / Madisonville-North Hopkins), who each excelled in the pool for Transylvania last season.
Haerle was named to the All-HCAC First Team as a sophomore for her outstanding performance at the HCAC championships, where she claimed the individual titles in the women's 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events, while Dodds earned All-HCAC Honorable Mention for his third-place finish in the men's 100-yard breaststroke event.
With such an experienced core group of swimmers returning, the Pioneers are prepared to take another step forward this season. "We are returning a conference champion in Sarah, and team record-holder in Drew, along with a great group of upperclassmen," remarked Doolin. "Having this type of leadership gives our team the confidence to perform and compete better than they ever have before."
Along with the upperclassmen, this season's version of the Pioneers will be bolstered by an impressive group of freshman that includes Lindsey Seaton (Ashland, Ky. / Russell) and Reese Arredondo (Lawrenceburg, Ky. / Anderson County). Coach Doolin will be looking for this crop of youngsters to compete and produce results right away.
"We have nine really impressive freshmen this year," said Doolin. "I look forward to seeing all of them contribute points at the conference meet. Lindsey, a sprint freestyler and Reece, a distance freestyler, will put pressure on the swimmers who finished in the top of our conference last season."
The Pioneers will compete in a nine-meet schedule, headline by the two-day Transy Invitational, hosted at the UK Aquatic Center on December 1 and 2.
"The Transylvania Invite is a big midseason test for our team," commented Doolin. "This meet gives our athletes a preview of what the conference meet will look like in February. We are able to take the performances at this meet and build on our training and make adjustments to be ready to compete at conference championships."
The Pioneers' schedule culminates with February's HCAC Championships on the campus of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. The meet begins on Friday, February 15 and wraps up on Sunday, February 17.
Transylvania opens its 2018-19 season on Saturday, October 27 as the Pioneers host the Asbury College Eagles for a dual meet at 1:00 p.m. at the William T. Young Campus Center.
For more on Transylvania swimming and diving, follow their official twitter @TransySwim