BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union College men's and women's swimming teams are ready to conclude their 2013-14 season this week, as the program opens competition at the 2014 NAIA National Championships at the Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Thursday morning.
Overall, the men's team is looking to improve on a seventh place finish in last season's Championships, while the women's team look to better an eighth place finish.
"We have a few events where I feel we can have a National Champion," said head coach Rafael Forti. "A lot of the events will come down to a few seconds, so anything can happen. This is a very deep field we're facing this week, but I'm very confident in our teams. We just posted our best performance ever at [ASC Championships], so our expectations are high.
"Overall, I expect our men's team to finish in the top seven overall once again, and if we get some breaks and everything goes well, our women can finish in the top five."
On the women's side, Union will be paced by their five relay teams, all of which have earned a spot in the National meet. The Bulldog 800-free relay squad leads the way going in, earning the three-seed as they enter preliminaries. Meanwhile, the 200-free relay team enters in fourth, both the 400-free and 400-medley teams go in at fifth, and the 200-medley squad enters the Championships in sixth overall.
Individually, junior Callie Harrigan will take part in three events; the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles. Two seasons ago, Harrigan earned honorable mention All-American honors in the 200-free, but will enter this National Championship as the second seed in the 100-free, looking to pick up All-American honors in the event.
Meanwhile, senior Kasey McCormick will also take part in three events - the 200-IM, 100-breast and 200-breast. Last season, McCormick was fourth in the 100-breast and fifth in the 200-breast, and looks to cap her career at Union by cracking the top three for All-American status in those events.
Like McCormick and Harrigan, junior Anna Kotliarova will also take part in three events at the Championships - the 50-free, 100-fly, and 100-free. She is the fourth seed in the 100-free entering competition and fifth overall in the 50-free.
Elsewhere, newcomer Jule Stein takes part in three events (200-breast, 200-IM, 100-breast), as does fellow freshman Eliska Melicharova (50-free, 100-back, 200-back), and Kellianne Holck (500-free, 200-free, 1650-free). Rounding out the list are senior Tanya Eustrom (50-free, 100-free) and Kayla Yokley (50-free, 100-free), who will take part in two events, each.
On the men's side, all five relay teams will also take part in the competition, paced by the 800-free relay squad who enters the Championships as the fifth seed.
Individually, freshman Jose Jesus Morales will enter the Championships as the number one seed in the 400-IM, while also competing in both the 200-fly and 200-IM. Senior Vinicius Rossi will also look to place high once again in the 100-breast, as he has placed third in the event the last two seasons to earn All-American honors. Rossi will also take part in the 200-breast at the event for the third straight year, as well.
Elsewhere, freshman Dalton Baxter will participate in three events (1650-free, 500-free, 200-free), and is the second seed in the 1650-free. Just behind Baxter in two of these events will be teammate Bradley Moore, who is entered in both the 500 and 1650-free, along with the 200-free. Moore is the third seed in both the 500 and 1650-frees.
Meanwhile, a trio of freshman will take part in three events, apiece, at the Championships. Diego Rios will compete in the 200-free, 50-free and 100-free, Dustin Dyer takes part in the 200-back, 100-back, and 100-fly, and Lucas Lucena, will swim in the 50-free, 200-back,100-back. Senior Rafael Bertholo will take part in the 50-free, while freshman Christopher Clark will compete in the 1650-free, rounding out the list of competitors on the week for the Bulldogs.
For the full NAIA National Championships pysch sheet, click here. Action gets underway in Oklahoma City Wednesday, with preliminary and finals for diving events. The first swimming events will be contested on Thursday. For a full schedule of events, click here.
Fans are also reminded that the Championships will be live streamed, starting on Wednesday evening, and rolling through Saturday's final events. For more information on how to watch the action live all weekend, click here.