Swimming and Diving: Potsdam gears up for SUNYAC championships; take split with St. Mike's heading into final home meet


In the one of the final tune ups before the SUNYAC swimming and diving championships begin in Buffalo from Feb. 19-22, the SUNY Potsdam men came away with a 171-122 victory against Saint Michael's College while the women fell 175-109 at Maxcy Hall Pool Saturday afternoon.

Senior captain Richie Zimmerman (Victor, N.Y. / Victor) continued to showcase his strong leadership by taking three individual events and teamed up with win a fourth event.

The four-year starter produced wins in the 100-yard backstroke (59.49), 500-yard freestyle (5:21.78), the 200 individual medley (2:11.88) and was a part of the 400-yard medley relay team that took first in 3:56.11.

"I had a good 500 [freestyle]," Zimmerman said. "I felt smooth on it.  I was long and got to stretch out.  Right now, I'm pretty happy.  You can try to get better times for lanes at SUNYAC.  I already have the top times heading into SUNYAC with first-place seed in the 100 breast stroke, a second seed for the 200 breast stroke, and a fourth for 200 individual medley.  I can save myself for harder training in the coming weeks.  Today was good just to loosen up and get some speed work in."

Zimmerman said felt proud of how the rest of his teammates responded and were able to reach some of their short-term goals as the season winds down.

The Bears added to their list of qualifiers for the SUNYAC championship as four swimmers reached benchmarks.  Chris Carlini (100 breaststroke), Melissa Moreland (100 breaststroke), Kallee Frego (100 backstroke) and Chris Halsey (1,000 freestyle) all punched their ticket for a trip to the SUNYAC championships.

"This was their second-to-last chance to qualify for the SUNYAC and we had four who have been trying to get in," Zimmerman said. "It's awesome to see it.  I love it when it happens.  A lot of these guys have been stressed in trying to get in.  If you don't get it, your season ends and you're sad if you have to leave the team behind.  Part of what we do for SUNYACs in years' past as a team is we bleach blonde our hair for a party.  Our girls on our team are going to have a maroon dye in their hair this year."

The Bears will have to make sure they have extra bleach handy.

Zimmerman added that he's pumped because he's already in better position for a bigger performance at the championships.

"I wasn't a top seed in anything last year," he said. "I was probably top 6 going in all the events.  I definitely have seeded higher in the breaststroke. I got to kind of duke it with Clarkson University's Kyle Hancock [on Friday night] and I was way up more amped up because you know that you got a guy that's right there with you.  He's the only guy to beat me so far this year and it was within a second.  That only helps me out. I'm only .16 off from breaking the 200 IM school record so I'm confident that I can get that."

Graduated swimmer Alexander Taylor holds the school record in the 200 IM with a 1:56.00.   

Other Potsdam winners from Saturday included Victoria Blakeslee (500 freestyle and 200 IM), Kristina Canjura (1,000 freestyle) and Kristina Blackstock (1-meter diving).

The Potsdam men winners included Tyler Zapisek (200 butterfly, 100 butterfly, and 100 freestyle), Ricky Blackburn (200 freestyle and 50 freestyle), Jeremy Rose (100 backstroke and 200 backstroke), Dan Costa (200 backstroke) and Tim Knapp (1-meter diving).  Costa, Carlini, Joe Roger and Zapisek won the men's 400 freestyle relay.

The last chance to catch the Potsdam swimming and diving teams will be Saturday, Feb. 2, beginning at 2 p.m. against Oswego. It is the last home meet of the season.