BUIES CREEK, N.C.- Head coach Pascal Molinard and the Campbell women's swimming team will kickoff its 2007-08 slate with an exhibition meet Friday and Saturday, as they travel to Wilmington to compete in the UNCW WOW Invitational. The Campbell swim team, who broke 17 school records a season ago, consists of 15 returners and five newcomers.
Campbell, who recently joined the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association, will see both familiar and unfamiliar faces in the CCSA this season. In addition to Campbell, the College of Charleston, Davidson, Florida A&M, Florida Gulf Coast, Gardner-Webb, Georgia Southern, Howard, North Carolina A&T, Radford and VMI make up the newly formed CCSA. UNC Wilmington, Old Dominion, N.C. State and Duke will head Campbell's non-conference schedule.
Campbell finished seventh in last year's Northeast Conference Championships and looks to improve the quality of swimmers with the addition of five newcomers. Angela Crotser, Lauren McFalls, Kelly Mullican, Ashlyn Stumpf and Casey Umberger make-up the Campbell's 2007-08 recruiting class, which is complimented by a highly talented returning core.
The Fighting Camels return two seniors, seven juniors and six sophomore. Kristin Thomas, Jackie Kenline, Patricia Jimenez, Heidi Shallow and Mary Beth Dellinger are Campbell's key returners, as they account for every school record.
Head coach Pascal Molinard has an optimistic outlook on the 2007-08 season.
Q: The Campbell program is in its fourth year. How will your returners impact the team? What can you expect for the 2007-08 season?
Coach Molinard: The tide has turned with our team this year because we have an incredible amount of talent. Kristin Thomas is the starting block of the entire team. She will really give us a great boost in the backstroke events, and help guide our freshman to swim at a higher level. Katie Conely has established herself as a good 500-freestyler and I think she will carry that through the season. Heidi Shallow and Patricia Jimenez are both incredible leaders. Heidi will be great in the breast stroke while Patricia will help with the butterfly and sprint events. Sarah McSpadden, who is a junior this year, is a very smart swimmer and is going to help us in the sprints, such as the 50-free and 100-free. Taylor McCauley will give us a great boost in the breast stroke and the individual medley. For our middle distance we have Jackie Kenline, who is last year's MVP. She will swim very strong in the 200-free, 100-free and will anchor most of the relays. I am confident that Jackie is going to carry over what she started last year. Mary Beth Dellinger will also be swimming a lot of middle distance races, and I can see some big things happening for her this year. Both Kara Gerdeman and Ashley Theodossiou will be vital to the relay teams, and the overall depth of our team.
The true beauty of this team is that everybody already knows their role. We have so many events to carry and we are such a young team, that it will be extremely helpful that everyone knows their position. Another great aspect to our team is that we have five freshmen that are extremely competitive. They will not only compete for positions on this swim team, but push our upper-classman to swim much faster. The intensity level in practice has already increased drastically from last year, which gets me excited. If everyone stays free on injury, we should have phenomenal season.
Q: How will the change from the Northeast Conference to the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association effect Campbell swimming?
Coach Molinard: The College of Charleston, who already has an established program, comes from a very strong conference as well as Davidson. We know that North Florida is very good, and Florida Gulf Coast has beautiful facilities with a packed roster, so I can expect they will be very competitive. I am very thankful that we started out in the Northeast Conference as a new program, because the CCSA will be very tough, but we are swimming at a level that we can compete now. The CCSA will be an attractive conference that aspiring college swimmers will be drawn to, which should help with our recruiting.
Q: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Coach Molinard: Our goals are to always get better from the season before, break school records and improve our conference rankings. I think we broke almost 80 percent of our previous records last year, so I hope we can continue to do that again this season. We finished in 6th place last year in the Northeast Conference Championships and look to do better this year, but it is hard to tell since we are heading into a new conference with some new teams.
Q: You are headed to Wilmington to compete in the UNCW WOW Invitational, which is an exhibition meet. What do you expect from the team? What do you hope to gain from the meet?
Coach Molinard: We use this meet as a warm-up to the season, to see where our girls are. This meet will really be beneficial to our freshmen who haven't competed in a college meet yet. It will show me the caliber of swimmers these girls are and hopefully carry over into our first meet at Radford. It is an exciting time to see how the girls react to competition. I am very excited to get this year started.