vastly improved Wisconsin men's swimming and diving squad will hit the waters
for the first time this season later this month, and under the direction of second-year
head coach Whitney L. Hite, the Badgers will look to build on a group of solid
returners and a promising freshmen class.
After finishing eighth at the Big Ten meet last season, Hite
is not shy about saying the expectations are much higher for his team this
season. Hite regards this season's squad as a top-20 program and expects them
to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.
"It would not surprise me if we were a top-20 team," Hite
said. "The expectation is for us to be better than we were last year and our
mindset is to do anything we can to get there."
The expectation of success this season has already been
thoroughly discussed and Hite will do all in his power to make sure the 2012
Badgers peak at the right time, including putting together one of the deepest
and most challenging schedules in recent years.
The men begin 2012 in East Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 28,
competing against Michigan State before traveling to Ann Arbor the following
day to take on national-power Michigan.
"I don't think I've ever been associated with a team that's
had meets in September, so that's a very early start," Hite said. "And
certainly in traveling to take on Michigan State and Michigan, we're facing a
great test right off the bat."
Following home meets against UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay,
the Badgers will travel to Minnesota before making the trip west to take on
Stanford and California, two of the country's top programs, on separate dates.
Hite stocked the 2012 slate with trips to Stanford, USC and
California, among others, hoping to build his team's confidence and work level
heading into February and March.
"If you look at our overall schedule, it's stronger than it
was last year," Hite stated. "My main concern is making sure that everyone is
prepared when we get to the Big Ten and NCAA meets."
ollowing a home meet against Northwestern on Nov. 8, the
Badgers will hit the road for an invitational with Big Ten foe Ohio State in
Columbus, Ohio. Hite believes this is the premiere meet of the fall semester
and believes his squad will bode well after a few days of rest. The Ohio State
Invitational will provide a good measuring stick of where the team is and where
they want to be heading into the holiday break and the new year.
With a semester of swimming under their belts, the team will
train in Hawaii for 10 days while taking on the University of Hawai'i on Jan.
5. The big test comes seven days later, when the Badgers head back to the mainland
to take on USC in Los Angeles.
"I believe if you want to be the best you have to go out and
seek the best," Hite said. "We aren't timid or afraid of anyone -- we'll go out
and swim anyone, anytime."
In what will be UW's final tune-up for their last home meet
and the Big Ten Championships, the Badgers will swim against perennial-powers
Virginia and Virginia Tech on Jan. 25 and 26, respectively, before heading back
to Madison for their final home meet, the Big Ten Quad Duals, on Feb. 1-2.
After finishing its season at home in early February, the men will make the
trip to Bloomington, Ind., on Feb. 27-March 2 for the Big Ten Championships.
Those who swim and qualify will move on to the 2012 NCAA Championships in
Badgers to Watch:
Wisconsin is led by its senior co-captains, Dan Lester and Michael Weiss, who
both had successful campaigns during the summer as Weiss was recently named to
the U.S. National Team and will compete at the 2012 Short Course World
Championships from Dec. 12-16 in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as the 2013 World
University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Lester, who made an appearance at the Australian Olympic
Trials prior to the 2012 Summer Games, is poised for an outstanding senior
"During NCAAs [Dan] was coming back from his Olympic trials
and I feel he would have been really, really good," Hite said. ""Hopefully
people have forgotten about him because we haven't and he's going to sneak up
and have a great senior year in the butterfly
and individual medley events."
All-American Weiss will look to improve on his third-place
finish at the NCAA meet in the 400 IM and honorable mention all-american status
last season in the 200 breaststroke and 500 free. The Reno,
Nev., native will be asked to carry the load in the IMs and middle distance
freestyle races, leading a team comprised of just one junior and four
"Overall, we've got great leadership, not just in our
captains, but in the entire senior class," Hite said. "They really do a great
job of leading this team and they know that with so many freshmen that they've
really accepted that challenge and have stepped up their game."
The lone junior, Tyler Hines, is expected to flourish this
season in the mid-distance to distance
freestyle events. Hines has already shown improvement and will be looked
upon to carry Wisconsin in those events at dual meets and the Big Ten meet. The
four previously mentioned sophomores are led by Drew DeTuits, who recently swam
under two minutes in the 200 LCM backstroke and will be looked on to
have a big impact this season.
Hite is most excited about his promising freshmen class, a
group that was ranked sixth at the time of UW's announcement of its signees
this past spring.
"When you go down the list, from top to bottom, this
freshmen class is one of the best in the country," Hite said.
Among the newcomers are Josh Anderson who will make an
immediate impact in the distance and
IM events and John Bushman, who will
make a push for NCAAs in the IM and breaststroke events.
In-state stars Austin Byrd (backstroke) and Ryan O'Donnell (backstroke) will be counted on to also make an immediate impact.
Along with the eight incoming swimmers, the Badgers are also
welcoming in a pair of divers as UW will field its first dive team in two
"Hunter and Logan are a great addition to our diving team," diving
coach Anton Slobounov said. "We are confident that the men's team will
score points at dual meets and help our regular season record, as well as make
an impact at Big Ten's."