The 2009-10 swimming season will offer a good mix of veteran leadership, international experience and fresh faces for Gallaudet University's men's and women's swimming teams that begin their respective seasons this Saturday.
"Our men's swimming team is a bit depleted due to injury at the start of the year," said Gallaudet coach Bill Snape, who enters his sixth season at the helm. "[On the other hand], our women's team might be one of the best ever [in program history]."
This is a special season for Gallaudet swimming as the Bison celebrate their 50th anniversary. A special celebration is slated for the final home meet of the year.
Junior Daniel DiDonna is the top returnee on the men's team as the Parsippany, N.J., native traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, this past September to represent the United States of America in the 2009 Deaflympics. DiDonna recorded a personal best 33.79 seconds in the 50-meter breaststroke as he finished seventh in the event at the Deaflympics. Senior Joseph Lopez, junior Ben Taylor along with sophomore Kyle Sexton will serve as team captains for the Bison this season. GU welcomes over a half dozen new swimmers to the program this season.
The Bison women's swimming team will be lead by junior Carlisle Robinson. The Carmel, Ind., native was an all-conference in the 200-yard butterfly as Gallaudet finished sixth at the CAC championships. This past September, Robinson was also a member of the USA team that participated in the 2009 Deaflympics. Robinson was part of the USA 4x100 meter freestyle relay team that finished fourth overall. The two captains of the women's team are senior Katie Day and junior Rachel Steingieser. Coach Snape is excited to see the debut of freshman Tong Song from China one of nearly a dozen new faces to the GU program. A goal for the Bison this year will be to erase several more school records, especially by the relay teams.
"We still have three women's relay team school records from the early 1990's. I have challenged our ladies to finally wipe them off the board," said Snape.
The Bison host two meets this year and will begin the new season at home on October 31 against two of the top teams in the Capital Athletic Conference. Defending champion University of Mary Washington, a national and CAC powerhouse, will face the Bison along with Salisbury University. Gallaudet will hit the road in November to St. Mary's City, Md., to face conference foe St. Mary's (Md.) College and Goucher College on the seventh. This will be good run through for the Bison as the CAC championships are hosted by the Seahawks once more on February 12-14. GU will have a few weeks off before its final meet of the fall semester when the Bison travel to York, Pa., to face the Spartans from York and Penn St.-Altoona in a double dual meet. The New Year brings a busy month of January, as the Bison will be in action on four different days. Gallaudet heads south to Roanoke, Va., to face Hollins and Salem on the 16th before a quick trip to Arlington, Va., to face CAC foe Marymount (Va.) University and Frostburg State University on the 22nd. Two days later, Gallaudet will host Hood College in the final home meet of the year. The meet will also mark the 50th anniversary of the GU swim program. The Buff and Blue close out the regular-season schedule on the road in Baltimore against College of Notre Dame on January 27. GU will then have two weeks before the conference championships.