After a full year without competing in the pool, the Marist Swimming & Diving teams are ready to take on Canisius at home on Friday, October 15. For the first time in the history of the program, the Red Foxes will race under the direction of a new head coach, Anthony Randall.
With consistent coronavirus disruptions during the 2020-2021 season, Marist was unable to compete in any meets and got little training time in the pool. Last year, the team could be found in Tenney Stadium doing dry land exercises and running the bleachers. While overall fitness is important in every sport, swimmers need to be in the pool to maintain their stroke mechanics and speed.
This is the first season in 43 years that the Marist Swimming program will not be led by Larry VanWagner. During his career, VanWagner coached in 628 dual meets, winning 423 of those contests. Under his direction, the Red Foxes claimed 36 conference championships. In winning the MAAC title in 2014, VanWagner’s women’s team brought home Marist’s 100th overall MAAC title.
This season, the Red Foxes have been in the pool for countless hours a week in preparation for their first meet. Unlike other college sports, swimming has a long season that spans many months and coincides with the holidays. When most Marist students return home for a month-long winter break, the men’s and women’s teams will make an early return to campus for training.
The season for swimming & diving begins with three meets in October and ends for some swimmers in the first week of March if they qualify for NCAAs. Looking ahead to the Championships in the beginning of February, the Red Foxes are ready to compete for the top spot in the MAAC.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced their preseason polls for both the men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams. The poll, which is a culmination of the votes by all of the league’s coaches, had both the Marist men’s and women’s teams ranked third among the MAAC.
“Every day I come into the pool I see the conference championships on the wall and I am fully aware of the culture and success of the program and I am looking forward to taking that next step,” Randall said.
The women’s team is led by senior Sidney Judson, who during her sophomore year was a conference champion in the 500 free and 1650 free. Alongside her is teammate Veronica Stureborg, who set a school record in the 50-yard back and 100-yard back during her freshman season in 2018-19.
The men’s team is led by senior Adam Kapusta, a 200-yard free and butterfly specialist. In addition to Kapusta is senior Ahmed Sallam who set a program record in the 50-yard backstroke and split the fastest 50-yard free time in school history in the 2019-20 season. Also returning to lead the Red Foxes is senior Ryan Kaplan, a school record holder in the 200-yard backstroke.
Men’s diving will be led by senior Carson Barry who competed in the 1-meter and 3-meter at the MAAC Championships, finishing as high as 10th in the 1-meter finals. Women’s diving will be led by senior Madison Sweeney who Finished 2nd in the 1-meter and 4th in the 3-meter dive at the ECAC Championships.
The extended time off from racing brings the Red Foxes excitement and nerves as they get ready to begin their long-season journey toward the championships.
Edited by Bridget Reilly & Mackenzie Meaney
Photo courtesy of Marist Athletics