NOTE: Live stream of home St. Bonaventure swimming and diving events available for the the 2016-17 season by clicking here.
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. -- With the 2016-17 St. Bonaventure men's swimming season due to begin on Friday, Bonnies head coach Sean McNamee enters the season with high expectations and high hopes after a productive preseason.
"Things have been going very well up to this point," McNamee said. "We have a very strong group of leaders on the top end of the team which has been a great learning experience for the freshmen because it has been very interactive."
The Bonnies kick off their season Friday afternoon at the Reilly Center Pool, hosting Cleveland State as part of a dual meet with the women's teams. Diving begins at 3 p.m. with swimming events starting at 5 p.m. The following day, the Bonnies will host their second dual meet in as many days as Colgate comes to the RC Pool.
After a 2015-16 season in which Bona finished second at the Atlantic 10 Championships, McNamee is expecting nothing less for this season, despite a relatively large freshman class.
"Freshman year can be a wild card year and we need to rely on them," said McNamee, noting the immediate impact he is looking for out of the 10 incoming freshmen, most notably David Shakhnrazanov, who will be competing in the breastroke and freestyle, and Nick Burdo, who will be competing in the freestyle.
"Normally a freshman class is relied upon for support and to learn and understand what the system is and what the program is," McNamee said. "But, we need these guys to hit the ground running."
Under McNamee, the Bonnies have long been an Atlantic 10 power, finishing top three at the conference championship meet in 22 of his 23 seasons at the helm.
In order to return to the top of the A-10, the Bonnies are seeking support, guidance, and mentorship from a strong senior class of Matt Goettler, Mike White, Preston Schilling, Jack Hughes, Alex Szakelyhidi, Mike Le, and Kevin Grant.
"They're our assistant coaches," said McNamee. "They're the reason that we're able to accomplish a lot of things because a lot of ownership falls upon the team. And, being able to rely on those guys for leadership and the teaching aspect for what goes on in a comprehensive program like we have, they are doing a fantastic job and our leadership is probably our biggest strength."
As for his underclassmen, McNamee will look to junior Matt Taccard to fill the void of last year's champion in the 200 backstroke, Michael Pilyugin, and will also be expecting a great deal out of sophomore John Piethruca, who has impressed McNamee during preseason workouts and practices.
"There's heat all the way across the board," said McNamee. "But it's going to be part in part with the leadership which I have confidence in."
All telling, McNamee is confident in the team that has been recruited, but is more than proud of the of the consistency of the program's long history of being students first, athletes second.
"The success we have had in that pool has been a byproduct of what we do as far as recruiting and the educational basis of what the program is about," he added. "Individuals hopefully understand what they're getting when it comes here and it kind of propagates itself."
And, it seems as though that expectation will remain the same heading into the 2016-17 season, as McNamee couldn't be more excited for the season ahead.
"They've been getting the work done to this point and if we can stay on a similar track for the remainder of the season, I'm really excited to see where we can be at the end of the year."
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