Oct. 17, 2013
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh swimming and diving team will open its inaugural ACC season this weekend with a Blue-Gold Intrasquad Meet on Friday afternoon at Trees Pool, followed by an away meet this Saturday at St. Bonaventure beginning at Noon.
The 2013-14 season will be one for the record books for the Pitt Panthers. Not only will it be their first year in the ACC, but the men will be honoring their 100th year of swimming and diving, while the women celebrate their 40th.
Pitt will enter the ACC going full-steam ahead with a team that returns its core nucleus for both the men and the women. Despite losing a couple of top male and female swimmers and divers to graduation, both teams return athletes who will compete for ACC titles right away.
With just two seniors on the roster for a team that finished third at the 2013 Big East Championships, (Diver Aaron Snyder and swimmer Alexander Rodenkirk), the men enter the new campaign with a youthful and talented team.
Junior Kourosh Ahani hopes to build on a stellar first two years at Pitt. With a NCAA National Championship Meet appearance under his belt and an undefeated career record in the 100 Fly, Ahani will be one of the ACC's top swimmers in the Fly. Two other Panthers looking to impress after making strong starts to their collegiate careers are sophomores Mack Rice and David Sweeney Jr. As freshmen, Rice broke the school record in the 200-meter individual medley, while Sweeney excelled as a distance, freestyle and fly swimmer as he was named Team MVP. Snyder was the 3M Big East Champion last year and looks to conclude his career with an NCAA appearance.
Twelve freshmen join the Pitt roster, including highly touted recruits Scott Simmer and Zach Lierley. Simmer comes to Pitt from Los Angeles, while Lierley hails from Mount Pleasant, S.C. and joins his brother Jon who is a junior and one of the top swimmers on the team. With an established veteran in Jon, and a top incoming talent in Zac, the Lierley's will be impact performers.
The women have plenty of experience back from a season which also saw them place third at the Big East Championships, led by nine returning seniors. Veronica Lee and Renee Deschenes head the group of veterans hoping to have their best season yet.
Lee currently holds two school records, including her best event of the 200 Breast, in which she swam the fastest time in Pitt history with a 2:12.93 at the Big East Championship Meet last season. She is also a part of the 200 Medley Relay school record team which boasts current athletes in juniors Cam Dixon and Dani des Tombe.
Dixon also specializes in the Breaststroke and owns the 100 Breast school record (1:01.74), while des Tombe is Pitt's top returning freestyle swimmer and had the team's top times in the 100 and 200 Free last season. Sophomores Kaleigh Ritter (distance) and Alexandra Iwanicki (sprints) will also look to build upon very solid freshman campaigns.
Top incoming freshmen for the women include Kinga Cichowska who hails from Poland, and Athena Summa from Virginia. Cichowska is a multi-event talent who has numerous Polish National Championships under her belt, while Summa is also a versatile swimmer who will compete in the Fly and the IM.
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