RALEIGH, N.C. - With the NC State swimming and diving program beginning its season today, Friday, Oct. 3, with its annual Red & White Scrimmage, GoPack.com takes a look at head coach Brooks Teal’s men’s team. The scrimmage will be held at Casey Natatorium on campus, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Talent is abundant throughout the entire 2008-09 men’s swimming and diving roster. Not only did three members of the team compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials this past June, but eight student-athletes combine for 18 of the top times in program history. Stephen Mellor, who was named All-ACC last season in both the 200 backstroke and 200 IM, owns three school records alone. In all, eight juniors, seven sophomores, seven freshmen, five seniors and one redshirt-senior comprise the Wolfpack roster.
Conor Brennan, Gaites Brown, Andrew Fink and Steven Wright will all look to help rebuild and re-establish a challenging sprint freestyle rotation. Travis Martinez stands as the top returner after posting a 21.33 in the 50 freestyle and a 46.43 in the 100 freestyle last season. Andrew Lester, who enjoyed considerable success in the 100 freestyle a year ago, will be used primarily in the relays. Derek Ernst, Taylor Goodwin, Andrew Keenan and Allen Lee all add experience.
Lester will also be heavily used in the mid-distance freestyle events after clocking in with a team-best 4:26.04, good for fifth in school history, in the 500 freestyle last season. Mason McGee, who competed at the U.S. Olympic Trails, had the best time in the 200 freestyle (1:37.69), as well as the second-best mark in the 500 (4:26.73). His showing in the 200 is the third-best mark ever in school history, while his swim in the 500 ranks sixth. Jon Vorpagel had the third-best showing a year ago in both events and continues to be a steady option for the Pack, while newcomers Daniel Basler, Brown and Fink will get plenty of opportunities to show what they can do. Brown, whose signature event is the 200 freestyle, will take on an impact role from day one.
Lester and McGee will carry the load for State in the distance freestyle, having posted the top two times respectively in both the 1000 and 1650 freestyle a year ago. Lester’s personal best 15:30.85 in the 1650 stands as the 10th-best time in the school record books. Nick Brittis also brings two years of experience into the pool.
A competitor at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, Kevin Woodhull-Smith is one of the top returning swimmers in the butterfly events, having put up a 1:49.98 in the 200 last season, good for 10th-place all-time at NC State. Mike Seiferth put up the second-best time on the season in the 100 butterfly, while Ernst had the second-best time in the 200. Tyler Mills and Keenan provide depth, while Sean Reams and Basler will both get involved.
The backstroke is all Mellor as his 1:43.98 stands as the school record in the 200, while his 49.27 is fifth-best all-time in the 100. Those times last season earned him a spot at the NCAA Championships in the 200 backstroke. A year ago Ben Mechak posted the second-best time in the 200 and the third-best time in the 100, while Woodhull-Smith has the seventh-best time in school history in the 200 backstroke with a 1:48.91. Nick Schauer will look to build upon his experience, as will Goodwin who finished near the top in multiple meets. Jimmy Ross joins a steady corps of veterans.
Dan Forsythe, who also competed at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, leads the charge for the Pack in the breaststroke, owning the fifth-ever best time in the 100 with a 55.49, as well as the seventh-best mark all-time in the 200 with a 2:01.87. Greg Baskwell and Danny Voss were also top competitors in the breaststroke events a year ago, with each posting the third-best mark on the year in the 100 and 200 breaststroke respectively. Voss’ 2:02.58 in the 200 is the 10th-best mark ever at NC State. Vorpagel will be in the mix in both breaststroke events, while Wright will look to make a name for himself.
With the school record in both the 200 and 400 IM under his belt, there is no doubt that Mellor is the supreme individual medley participant in Wolfpack history. Last year he set a new standard in the 200 with a 1:47.36, after setting the new benchmark in the 400 with a 3:50.49 the year before. His marks in the 200 last year landed him a spot in competition at the NCAA Championships. But despite Mellor’s domination, several of his teammates hold some of the best showings in the Wolfpack annals. Woodhull-Smith is third in the 400 and 10th in the 200 all-time, while Goodwin is sixth all-time in the 200 and Lester is sixth all-time in the 400. Baskwell, Reams, Ross, Schauer and Voss round out the crew.
Three seasoned and experienced competitors return to the diving board in Austin Hampton, Alexander Dambly and Scott Blackwelder. Hampton and Dambly both competed at the NCAA Diving Zones last year, with Dambly recording the best scores of the season for the Pack in both the 3-meter and platform dives. Hampton, who earned All-ACC honors in 2007, posted State’s top mark for the year in the 1-meter, while taking second in both the 3-meter and platform.