EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire women's swimming and diving team will open the season Friday (Oct. 14) while both the men and women will be in action in two weeks.
Both teams bring back a number of key members from a season ago. For the men, 13 out of 18 letterwinners from last year return while 13 of 21 letterwinners are back for the women. A total of 28 student-athletes are on this year's women's roster while 22 are on the men's team.
Back are last year's men's and women's most valuable swimmers, Nicole Dorvinen (Sr.-Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) and Jonathan Poppele (Sr.-Maple Grove, Minn./Wayzata). Last year's men's most valuable diver Nick Badilla (Jr.-Appleton, Wis./North) also returns.
Dorvinen, who was named most valuable swimmer two years ago as well, was part of four new school records and four first place finishes at the conference championships. Dorvinen was named top swimmer of the 2011 WIAC meet and also earned an All-American finish by placing fifth in the 400-yard individual medley at 2011 NCAA Division III Nationals.
Poppele earned 2011 conference championships in two events – the 200-yard backstroke and the 400-yard individual medley. He broke school records with his performances in those events and also earned runner up in the 200-yard individual medley.
As the lone representative of the men's team at nationals last season, Badilla picked up top-20 finishes in both of his dives. He claimed 14th spot in the one-meter and 16th in the three-meter dive. Badilla recorded third place finishes at the 2011 WIAC Championships in both the one and three-meter dives.
Also returning to the women's team are four swimmers who have nationals experience. They are Angie Bakula (Sr.-Appleton, Wis./West), who was the team's 2008-09 most valuable swimmer, Julia Olson (Sr.-Faribault, Minn.), Grace Fair (Jr.-Monticello, Minn.) and Kirsten Lickel (Sr.-Madison, Wis./East).
Last year, the Blugold men finished in second place in the WIAC, the team's best finish since the 1999-2000 season, and head coach Art Brandt was named the WIAC Coach of the Year. The women came in third place in the conference for the eighth year in a row.
While the Blugolds will be at home for the first couple of meets in October, they will only be at home two more times the rest of the year when they face UW-La Crosse on December 10 and UW-Whitewater on January 28.