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Swimming Update

Postby Water Pony » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:00 pm

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the new Robson-Lindley Aquatic Center and visit with Steve Collins, our Women's Coach, and Greg Rhodenbaugh, the new Men's Coach. The Men's practice was underway.

The Men's Team is much larger with lots of Freshmen, including many walk-on's in the pool. Underclassman are the norm. It's apparent it will take time to rebuild, but the team depth has greater and Greg is working them hard. Lots of strength building and intensity in their workouts.

Qualifying a lot swimmers for NCAA looks like a long term project, but the team will be deeper than our more recent teams. I expect some diamonds in the rough to emerge with our young swimmers moving from HS training to the big loads now expected.

Steve was fun to talk to, but it will be missing a couple of international swimmers this year, as they compete for their country in the Olympics next week. By the way, this weekend the Women host the Dallas Classic with Auburn (4th nationally last year), Louisville (12th last year), Iowa, Miami and Northwestern coming to our new facility, which looks fantastic.

There is likely to be more fund raising (again), as they aspire to build an outdoor, long course pool immediately south of the Aquatic Center. This will allow us to host major meets with two long course pools available. Fun to think about. Recruiting has improved with the new facility a big asset.

In summary, the future looks better, but it will take time to build a new foundation, continue recruiting and move up in class. Pony Up!
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby jpe747 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:33 pm

I hope so. It is a shame what happened to our swimming program - once one of the best in the country. Pony Up!
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby PoconoPony » Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:43 pm

Both programs have struggled the last 10 years. New coach Greg Rhodenbaugh will take time to re-build, but he is the right guy to do the job. This year's frosh are solid, but most are not to the level where they can be coached up for any conference championships let alone NCAA qualifiers.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby Water Pony » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:57 pm

PoconoPony wrote:Both programs have struggled the last 10 years. New coach Greg Rhodenbaugh will take time to re-build, but he is the right guy to do the job. This year's frosh are solid, but most are not to the level where they can be coached up for any conference championships let alone NCAA qualifiers.


Fair assessment, Pocono.

The journey to NCAAs, much less, conference champs, will be a long one. For example, to be competitive you need more than a couple of individual contributors. Relay teams bring lots of points, but you need to have at least four high performing freestylers for both short and middle distances, plus a least one star in each of the strokes, back, breast, butterfly and free for the two medley relays distances. No small task.

This requires depth, speed and quality. This will take years. Let’s begin the journey. Pony Up!
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby ponyswim » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:14 am

Good thoughts Pocono and Water Pony.
My take - (I am about to head to the SMU/LSU meet so this may change a little later today).
On a conference level - our conference is pretty poor, I would think they have a chance to be competitive to win this year in the men's side of it.
On a national level, my hope is that out of the current group on campus, that 2 or 3 can be national level competitors in a year or two, at least on relays. As an example, men who can split low 42 freestyle, 51.5 breast, etc. Enough to pair with new additions to put together relays that can score at NCAA's. I am not sure if we have that on campus or not - we will find out this year. If that does NOT happen in the next year or two, it will be a really hard sell to get talented men/women to come to SMU, in my opinion.
The landscape of college swimming is so different where you have UVA, NC State, Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin, A&M and others that have not been nationally competitive in the men till the last few year (Indiana was long ago, then went down and is now back.) Add those programs to the Texas/Cal/USC etc and highly motivated, talented guys have no reason to come to SMU unless there is a realistic hope on campus that shows EXCELLENCE. Maybe that hope starts today, we will see.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby mtrout » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:37 am

ponyswim wrote:Good thoughts Pocono and Water Pony.
My take - (I am about to head to the SMU/LSU meet so this may change a little later today).
On a conference level - our conference is pretty poor, I would think they have a chance to be competitive to win this year in the men's side of it.
On a national level, my hope is that out of the current group on campus, that 2 or 3 can be national level competitors in a year or two, at least on relays. As an example, men who can split low 42 freestyle, 51.5 breast, etc. Enough to pair with new additions to put together relays that can score at NCAA's. I am not sure if we have that on campus or not - we will find out this year. If that does NOT happen in the next year or two, it will be a really hard sell to get talented men/women to come to SMU, in my opinion.
The landscape of college swimming is so different where you have UVA, NC State, Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin, A&M and others that have not been nationally competitive in the men till the last few year (Indiana was long ago, then went down and is now back.) Add those programs to the Texas/Cal/USC etc and highly motivated, talented guys have no reason to come to SMU unless there is a realistic hope on campus that shows EXCELLENCE. Maybe that hope starts today, we will see.

What's the conference have at this time? 4 teams on the men's side?
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby tristatecoog » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:08 pm

Yes, four.

Last year's men's results:
1. Cincinnati – 966
2. ECU – 820
3. UConn – 647
4. SMU – 613

SMU had the top diver (Freshman Parker Hardigree) and top diving coach. Parker was a three time HS All-American from Georgia . Chose SMU because of the beautiful campus.

Now there are two more freshman divers. One from FL and one from GA.

+++++++++++
I know someone that chose another (public U) swim program because of the cost of SMU after a partial scholarship at both places.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby ponyswim » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:38 pm

I know someone that chose another (public U) swim program because of the cost of SMU after a partial scholarship at both places.


That is the world of swimming and other partial scholarship sports. SMU can only compete to have a really good team by having a program and coaches that recruits will value VERY HIGHLY and by having SMU have a lot of academic aid for good students. That way you can recruit good athletes with 30-40% athletic aid, 30-50% academic aid, and it will be affordable. Not sure that will ever happen, but that is the hope.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby Water Pony » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:02 am

ponyswim wrote:
I know someone that chose another (public U) swim program because of the cost of SMU after a partial scholarship at both places.


That is the world of swimming and other partial scholarship sports. SMU can only compete to have a really good team by having a program and coaches that recruits will value VERY HIGHLY and by having SMU have a lot of academic aid for good students. That way you can recruit good athletes with 30-40% athletic aid, 30-50% academic aid, and it will be affordable. Not sure that will ever happen, but that is the hope.


Thanks, PonySwim. Cost of attendance for us is high; so partial relief would help, especially with an academic assistance component. Often non-revenue athlete also excel in the classroom.

Conversely, the Athletic aid is highly managed. As a result, our non-revenue sports have a bigger challenge, since our overall Athletic Budget doesn't benefit from Power 5 money. Thanks.
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SMU Invite - PROGRESS

Postby ponyswim » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:31 pm

In a previous post I mentioned that my hope was that out of this current group that Greg has, 2-3 could become contributors on an NCAA championship level. What I mean by that is that some could split NCAA level relay times in the next year or two.
Based on the recent SMU invite - they have made great progress.
This is where there is great hope:
Freshman - relay splits - Justin Baker - 43.8, Riley Hill 44.1.
individual - Colin Feehery - 1:47/3:51 IM (improved from 1:53/4:00)
Junior Transfers - Caleb Rhodenbaugh - 53:4 breast split
Daniel Forndal - 42.8 free split

Lots of other great improvements from guys who will certainly moved into the category of possible conference finalists or even NCAA qualifiers in a year or two if they continue to make great progress.

This meet was I think the best meet for SMU in 10+ years, so I am very encouraged.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby PoconoPony » Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:20 pm

Spent 3 sessions observing Coach Rhodenbaugh at practice and spending time with him in the week prior to the Temple game. At that time he already been on 6 national recruiting trips with in-home visits with the kids and their parents. In addition, he had 6 recruits at practice that week. He spent a good bit of time with the team explaining and discussing with them their crucial role in the recruitment process and their impact on recruits. Coach knows exactly what he wants and how to get the job done. It is only a matter of time before we are again top 10 as he is a relentless recruiter who knows where the top kids are located and how to sell them.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby ponyswim » Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:33 pm

Thanks Pocono - Greg has at least 5 swimmers that have made commitments to SMU for 2020. I am hopeful that they will be able to add some very high level young men.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby Water Pony » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:55 pm

Thanks PoconoPony and ponyswim,

Your observations suggest faster improvement that one might expect so early in Greg's coaching tenure. I agree that his recruiting efforts and highly demanding workouts with their emphasis on intensity is accelerating the development of our current team, who arrived with less pedigree from their high schools.

These home grown, self-developed competitors is a great development and will help sell our program to better athletes. This will still take time, but a good trend is emerging.

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Re: Swimming Update

Postby ponyswim » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:10 pm

Ok - dual meets are done, conference is next week.
If you did not see the results of the Texas meet, many of the guys same right about the same as they did in the November invitational. Most were not shaved, but they all work the "fast" suits - as did the Texas guys.
Long story short - we are WAY better than a year ago. At least one swimmer will not get to go to the conference meet that has already done a time that made the top 8 last year.
If we swim GREAT - we have a chance to win - likely Cincy will be the toughest opponent.
I am hoping that we can better multiple school records in relays(2 would be good, more would be awesome), and top at least one individual record (I am talking about the men). The 200 breast is most likely, and maybe the 1650 is second, then the 400 IM after that.
Significant drops from the Texas meet for multiple guys would make for a great year for Greg and his team.
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Re: Swimming Update

Postby Water Pony » Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:35 pm

ponyswim wrote:Ok - dual meets are done, conference is next week.
If you did not see the results of the Texas meet, many of the guys same right about the same as they did in the November invitational. Most were not shaved, but they all work the "fast" suits - as did the Texas guys.
Long story short - we are WAY better than a year ago. At least one swimmer will not get to go to the conference meet that has already done a time that made the top 8 last year.
If we swim GREAT - we have a chance to win - likely Cincy will be the toughest opponent.
I am hoping that we can better multiple school records in relays(2 would be good, more would be awesome), and top at least one individual record (I am talking about the men). The 200 breast is most likely, and maybe the 1650 is second, then the 400 IM after that.
Significant drops from the Texas meet for multiple guys would make for a great year for Greg and his team.


Thanks, PonySwim,

I share your enthusiasm for the team and its recent performance. Greg’s training and greater expectations appear to be raising the team’s performance in his first year. We still need to raise the bar (Barr), but initial results are encouraging.
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