There will be plenty of new faces on the Idaho swim and dive team this season and in the coaching staff.
The Vandals welcomed 13 freshman swimmers and divers to the program and one transfer diver from Colorado State.
Idaho hired Kelsie Saxe as the new assistant swim coach and Jim Southerland as the new dive coach.
“It feels like almost a new team and there’s a ton of excitement and a ton of talent,” Idaho coach Mark Sowa said. “I mean, we’re two and a half weeks in right now and really the atmosphere is tremendous. I believe the freshmen have a really good grasp of what we’re trying to do. They have a huge up side. But they’re still freshmen so there’s going to be some growing too.”
Despite the load of incoming freshman, Sowa said the team has depth.
“I think potentially we’re deeper than we’ve ever been before in every event,” Sowa said. “We’ve lost a lot in terms of graduation at our top end but you win championships with depth. I think top to bottom potentially we’re a better team than we’ve ever been.”
The Vandals open the season Saturday at the Swim Across America Open Water swim in Lake Washington, which is adjacent to Seattle. Swimmers will complete a one and a half mile swim in the lake.
“It’s a format that obviously we don’t do very often in collegiate swimming in terms of open water stuff,” Sowa said. “It’s a mile and a half course. So we like it because it gives us a chance to travel as a team early in the season without the stress of a NCAA competition.”
Sowa said Boise State and Seattle University will compete.
Swim Across America is an organization that raises money for cancer research, so the swim meet will be competitive but is also for a good cause.
“It gets the girls out of their comfort zone a little bit, but also they can remind themselves that they’re using they’re talents for a good cause which is something that we try to drive home here and just thinking outside of yourself, so that’s why we’re pretty excited about it,” Sowa said.
Idaho junior swimmer Kelly Giffey said the combination of swimming and raising money for cancer research is cool.
“I think it will be really fun,” Giffey said. “And it’s cool because it’s for cancer research and we get to raise money for that, and swim at the same time which is awesome.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CabezaGarrett