ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. -- The St. Bonaventure women's swimming and diving team will begin its 2016-17 season Saturday against Youngstown State at the Reilly Center Pool.
This season brings several changes, chief among them bring the addition of new head coach Brian Thomas.
"It's an interesting year, being my first year as head coach," head coach Brian Thomas said. "Diving into things pretty quickly, I think, in terms of trying to make changes but being careful with that, being cognizant that a total overhaul doesn't really do anybody any good."
Thomas is a graduate of UConn, where he was a four-year letterwinner in the pool, and has made several stops along the way as a collegiate coach, including his alma mater, Rutgers, Western Kentucky and most recently, UNLV where he served as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
"I think the thing at the forefront of my mind is doing what we can to maximize the time our seniors have here," Thomas said. "I've told them since day one I think they are an extension of the coaching staff and I think they will really pave the way for what we want to do moving forward. They've really grasped my vision for things and run with it."
He spoke on each senior's importance in improving from a 10th-place finish at last year's Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving Championship.
"Taylor Hodges is an excellent example of what hard work can do for you; when she speaks, our swimmers listen," he said. "Emily Quinn is a tremendous example on the leadership end, and Bridget Jordan is a very good swimmer who will help us in sprint events, in the butterflies and as a major part of our relays."
"Finally, Maggie Woods is another excellent sprinter, and will have an impact on our relays, and more than anything a great personality to be around," he concluded.
The preseason work the team has done gives Thomas a positive outlook on the team and its path to success.
"I've been really enthused and happy with the early results, just from our first four and a half weeks of training," he said. "They've probably exceeded my expectations, which is a good thing, but more than anything I think it's a matter of taking it day-by-day and really trying to maximize the time we have in the water, in the weight room and really being efficient with our training."
Joining the Bonnies this season will be nine freshmen: Izzy Aguilera (Phoenix, Ariz.), Ava Bianchi (Novi, Mich.), Erin Carmody (Montgomery, N.Y.), Tayler Gnan (Saint Marys, Pa.), Kathryn Godlewski (Apex, N.C.), Theresa Hutton (Stony Point, N.Y.), Brooke Morrisseau (Sterling, N.Y.), Kelsey Powers (Lakewood, N.Y.) and Elena Rohr (Rochester, N.Y.).
"We have a pretty good group of freshmen," Thomas said. "Kathryn Godlewski is going to be a major player for us for four years, and you can tell by the way she approaches workout, from her background of North Carolina Aquatics Club out of Chapel Hill, it's obvious she had some fantastic coaching.
Thomas looked at the prior conference championship results and said things need to change when it comes to the end of the season.
"We have some talent here, but for whatever reason we got to February and we weren't racing the way I think we're capable of," Thomas said. "So we wanted to put them into a new situation where they are getting up and swimming fast quite frequently, and hopefully making some adaptations training wise to help them in February."
Saturday's 1:00 p.m. meet is the first of six home meets on the 2016-17 schedule, which is the program's most home events since the 2009-10 hosted five home meets. After hosting YSU, St. Bonaventure will welcome Central Connecticut (Oct. 14-15), Cleveland State (Oct. 21), Colgate (Oct. 22), Cornell (Jan. 21) and Niagara (Jan. 28).
For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @Go_Bonnies and get women's swimming and diving updates @BonniesWSwim. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.