by JACK MELANSON, Staff Writer
On Oct. 8th, in Scranton, Pa., 16 incoming freshman are set to dive into the pool for the first time as both Manhattan College and collegiate athletes. The newest members of the swim team will be competing against Marywood University.
Two of the newcomers include Katie Voitik of Pensylvania, and Matt Silvestri from New Jersey.
Voitik specializes in distance events such as the 1000-meter free, or the mile, while Silvestri swims the butterfly and freestyle techniques.
Last season’s struggles in the pool, along with many seniors graduating called for a strong recruiting year for Manhattan. Joe Murtha, entering his seventh year as assistant coach, believes it has done just that.
“I think we had a very good recruiting year, last year,” Murtha said.
“We brought in a lot of good talent, particularly for the women. We graduated 14 kids last year, and were able to replace all of them and actually add additional on top of that.”
Both the male and female teams found themselves scratching at the bottom of the MAAC Championships last season, with the men placing eighth and the women coming in last.
With respect to all of the new members, this is something that the entire team hopes to improve on this upcoming season.
When discussing Manhattan’s potential success in the pool, Silvestri was bullish.
“I’m pretty confident that in my four years we are going to keep getting better and better,” Silvestri said. “Me and the other new freshmen all have a really strong work ethic, and we look forward to getting more fast recruits.”
Murtha expressed a similar idea.
“We definitely have a stronger squad this year on both sides,” he said. “We’ve gotten the women’s team now to be looking very, very strong, especially in the mid-to-distance events”
Murtha continued to thank team captains, seniors Paige Raccioppi, Michaela Schatz, Dallan Treanor and Lance Neuendorf, for being such a pivotal part in changing the team’s atmosphere.
“They took on an excellent leadership role, getting the team up on mornings and over to the pool to train,” Murtha said. “I’m seeing the results already, they are definitely swimming at a faster level now then they were at this time last year.”
In addition, freshmen Voitik and Silvestri joined in on the idea that the help from the upperclassman was much more than just in the pool.
“They have made the transition from high school to college a lot easier,” Voitik said.
Silvestri, like most freshman, stayed over a night for a recruiting trip before committing to Manhattan College.
“All the guys were real welcoming, and they all hung out as a tight knit team,” Silverstri said about what made his decision to join the Jaspers much easier.
With a newly revamped practice schedule, adding three mandatory morning practices a week, along with bringing in a more official weight coach to work closely with the swimmers, Manhattan looks to cause an unexpected splash in the MAAC starting early this October.
The Jaspers swim team also has the luxury of having 10 of its 15 meets this season very close to campus, many of which are at its home pool, Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale.
With a schedule that heavily favors Manhattan in terms of travel, its goals for the season seem to be very realistic. Murtha, along with Head Coach Walter Olsewski—who has been involved with the program since 1997—hope to find the very young Manhattan much closer to the middle of the MAAC standings this winter.