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ASU Swim/Dive: Previewing the 2019-20 Season

What’s to expect for a team returning so much firepower?

A six-point margin was wide enough for the Maroon squad to pull off a victory against the Gold team in ASU’s annual Intrasquad Meet.

The intrasquad serves more as a showcase with a taste of competition for freshmen, so it’s the perfect opportunity to preview the 2019-20 ASU swim season.

MEN

Key losses: Danny Comforti (Graduated), Grant House (Olympic Redshirt)

As a senior, Comforti held the breaststroke spot on the 200 and 400 medley relays, until the emergence of then-freshman Elijah Warren. House posted 39 team points at Pac-12s in the 200 FR, 200 BR, 200 IM and three relays. House was the high-point scorer for the swim team at the conference meet and swam for 6.5 team points and three relays at NCAAs. The loss of House for the season hurts this year, he leadoff point-scoring relays for the team, but it’s a long-term investment: “Everybody understands why they’re doing what they’re doing, and supports it,” Coach Bob Bowman said about House and freshman Jarod Arroyo, both of whom are redshirting the year. “Our primary goal is to help those people that have a chance to make it or do something at the (Olympic) Trials.”

SPRINT FREESTYLE

Junior Evan Carlson highlights the sprint group, after dropping five-tenths of a second in his 50 free time, improving to a team-fastest 19.50. Junior Carter Swift, the next fastest sprinter (19.76) and sophomore Ethan Luc (20.03) will provide support as the squad looks to crack last year’s season-best 1:17.84 200 FR relay time.

MID-DISTANCE FREESTYLE

This is the group where House’s loss is felt the greatest. His second-place finish at Pac-12s in the 200 free (1:32.47) would be the fastest in the Pac-12 this season with the graduation of the event winner, Cal’s Andrew Seliskar. Filling his place will be freshman Jack Dolan, a top-five nationwide recruit in the class. His best time in the 200 freestyle was posted in 2017 but will still be the best on the ASU group, shown in his win of the event at the intrasquad Saturday. His 6’5” figure shows signs of possible improvement under a collegiate strength and conditioning program. Junior Carter Swift is the next man up, including depth from sophomores Cody Bybee and Liam Bresette.

DISTANCE FREESTYLE

The team will return all of its top distance swimmers, while adding freshman Julian Hill. Hill won the 500 freestyle at the intrasquad, and his lifetime best puts him at the second-fastest on the team in that event, behind the team’s top distance swimmer, senior Ben Olszewski. Returning senior Matt Kint, junior Jack Etter and sophomore Jack Little, the group may not be the fastest in the conference, but it offers great depth.

BUTTERFLY

Sophomore Khalil Fonder swam the fastest 100 butterfly time on the team as a freshman, with Cody Bybee holding the team’s best 200 fly mark. Freshman Alex Colson was one of four rookies to win races on Saturday, his coming in the 200 butterfly. His 1:45.40 from March of 2019 is now the fastest on the team, though it looks Fonder will retain his place on the 200 medley relay.

BACKSTROKE

Zach Poti- enough said. The senior was the conference champion in the 100 backstroke last season, placing 11th at NCAAs. His spot on the medley relays is in no danger, although Jack Dolan could take his relay spot in some dual meets, allowing Poti to compete in more individual events.

BREASTSTROKE

Sophomore Elijah Warren will likely take the spot in both medley relays, as well as the individual breaststroke events. The graduation of Danny Comforti will be felt here, as his 100 breast time was a full second faster than Warren.

WOMEN

Key losses: Fanny Teijonsalo (Graduated), Marlies Ross (Graduated), Krista Kolkebeck (Graduated)

The rapid growth of Arizona State’s female swim program has been incredible since the arrival of Bob Bowman four years ago. The team finished in the top-20 for the first time since 2011 last year and have broken nine individual and two relay records under Bowman’s direction. The program’s upward trend is highlighted this year by a talented freshman class that will replace and build on graduated swimmers.

SPRINT FREE

NCAA-qualifier Fanny Teijonsalo owned the team’s top marks in the 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly and 100 fly, so her graduation leaves a hole. Junior Camryn Curry steps into the spotlight in the 50 freestyle after taking 15th at Pac-12s in the event. After a summer of training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, junior Erica Laning has begun to show herself as a valuable 100 freestyle swimmer as well. Laning showed great improvement in her starts and turns at the intrasquad meet and will likely swim on the 400 freestyle relay as she looks to break 50-seconds (her current best is 50.28).

MID-DISTANCE FREESTYLE

The ASU women have one of the most talented and deep 200 freestyle groups in the NCAA. Four swimmers made finals at Pac-12s in the event, all returning. Senior Cierra Runge, the current team record holder in the event, placed 11th at NCAAs. With none of the top-four finishers and only three of the ‘A’ finalists in the event at NCAAs swimming collegiately this year, a window opens for Runge. Joining her is a host of swimmers, including Laning, junior Emma Nordin and senior Kendall Dawson, all of whom posted multiple Olympic Trial cuts this summer in long course meets.

DISTANCE FREESTYLE

RE: the mid-distance freestyle group. It’s the strongest point of the team.

BUTTERFLY

With Teijonsalo’s graduation, the outlook on the butterfly group seems grim.

Until freshmen Lindsay Looney, Jade Foelske and Jane Brown hit the water.

Teijonsalo’s best 100 fly time of 52.55 may not be matched yet by any, but all three are within a second or so of her best. This group is complemented by sophomore Ruby Martin, who challenged Teijonsalo all season in butterfly events. Look for Looney and Martin to dominate 200 fly events this season.

BACKSTROKE

Initially, the spotlight was always aimed toward Chloe Isleta. The senior IM/backstroke specialist dominated dual meets in both the 100 and 200 backstroke last season, and looked to be the first pick for the medley relay. Although, Jane Brown complicates this. At the intrasquad meet Saturday, Brown held her own in the 100 backstroke, narrowly edged out by the team’s reigning speedster.

BREASTSTROKE

Senior Silja Kansakoki rounds off a powerful senior group on the women’s side. Kansakoski is the Pac-12 champion in the 100 breaststroke, and reached the podium with a bronze in the 200-yard equivalent event. Alongside her is junior Nora Deleske, the ASU Office of Student-Athlete Development’s Most Improved Female of this September. Deleske is an often slept-on member of the team, as her five-point versatility allows her to swim in any event. She finished 8th in the Pac-12 last season in the 400 IM, ASU’s highest finisher in the event.

EXPECTATIONS

Really, the expectation for this team is to be better than last season. It’s not quantifiable in a dual-meet record, so look for conference finishes and NCAA-meet finishes to measure if a team returning and introducing more power than it graduated will improve this year.