By Dakarai Williams / Sports Editor
It’s been nearly two years since the SUNY Brockport women’s swimming and diving team has been in the pool due to the 2020-21 season cancellation. The last time fans saw their Golden Eagles compete was at the SUNYAC Championship where they took home fifth place and broke 11 school records.
However, with a new coach and the addition of six new swimmers and divers, fans can expect to see almost an entirely new team this year.
On top of their season being cancelled, the swimming and diving team couldn’t practice at SUNY Brockport and were without a coach for all of last year. Still, Junior swimmer and team captain Allison Morrow is proud that the team was able to keep going in spite of everything.
“The team was on their own to stay in shape over the last year, and we encouraged them to do so,” Morrow said. “Some of us swam at pools at home over the summer, but we were not able to get into the pool besides those last few weeks at the college. Some kids went to the gym as well throughout the year.”
Of all the obstacles that the team was forced to overcome, being without a coach may have been the most difficult. However, Moira Kurak a junior on the women’s diving team, says that it was Morrow and the rest of the captains who helped ease that burden for the rest of the team.
“The captains did an amazing job at creating workouts and practice schedules while not having a coach. It was very unfortunate to not have a coach and it put a damper in our year, but the upper classman were able to step up and do what was best for the team,” Kurak said.
The team’s first official practice is Monday Oct. 4. However, Morrow and the rest of the captains started captain practices on Sept. 12 not only to begin training again, but to build team chemistry.
“We encouraged everyone on the team to come to these practices not only to get back into swimming, but so we could all reconnect and meet the new swimmers,” Morrow said. “We either come with a workout in mind that we would like to do, or someone will write theirs down and we will do it together. The last two days of open swim before our season started, we set up a water polo game to get the team engaged and have some fun.”
Zack Wahl was hired as the head coach of SUNY Brockport’s swimming & diving program this summer. Wahl spent the last three years as the head coach of Clarkson University’s swim team where he left an impressive mark. In his first season, the Golden Knights set eight new team records. Wahl continued to take Clarkson’s swim team to new heights in the 2019-20 season leading them to their first Liberty League Championship victory since the 2013-14 season.
“We are very excited to have coach Whal coaching the team this year,” Morrow said. “His positive energy is definitely what the team needs after not having a coach for a year, and he has brought a great training program. He is optimistic that both our men’s and women’s teams will be fast, and he hopes to build the team and the swim program to be even larger in the coming years. He has a lot of goals in mind that are definitely going to benefit the program.”
As of right now, assistant coach Scott Horsington oversees the diving team. However, Wahl’s eagerness to learn has the diving team excited for the season.
“The team is very excited about the hiring of coach Wahl and we are excited for the upcoming season. He has a great background in swimming and he is very interested in becoming more involved with the divers,” Kurak said.
Wahl, from the Rochester area, is excited to be back home and is looking forward to a fun future here at Brockport.
“Look at this facility, it’s beautiful, this is the best one in the SUNYAC. I always felt like this program could be very good,” Wahl said. “I was at Clarkson for three years and was able to do some cool stuff up there, but my goal was ultimately to get back to the Rochester area and get one of the jobs down here and this was right at the top of my list.”
As for this year, Wahl just wants to focus on bringing the team back together and is confident that success in the pool will come naturally.
“My number one goal for this year is just for them to become a team again and have a good experience. I think the swimming will take care of itself and what we do in the pool will make them better,” Wahl said.
The team will have their first swim meet Oct. 16 at Ithaca. SUNY Brockport’s women’s swimming and diving full roster and schedule is available online at GoBrockport.