The swimming and diving team is rebuilding its role. With new recruits, new equipment and a greater focus, the team plans to make waves in its quest to be No. 1 this season.
The team wants to repeat its winning performance in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference Championships in January.
After finishing No. 4 overall in the Southern States Conference last February, the team has renewed energy to place in the top three for the upcoming conference. The team of 26 trains six days a week to maintain speed and endurance.
A main contributor to the team’s extra determination is Mark Howell, the head coach, who started his position in August.
Although new to his position, he has already impacted the team in a positive way.
“Mark has been very instrumental in improving team morale, team ethic and overall attitude,” said co-captain Karl Riley, 20, a junior business adminstration student from Cape Coral.
“His direct tone towards the team has allowed us to focus on what we need to know and has made it clear that academics and sports are important.”
Another one of the team’s goals for the upcoming season is for at least four team members to get to the NCAA trials, which serves as the second most prominent category (only below the Olympics) to which a collegiate swimmer can qualify.
Diving coach Terry Allen is another team motivator. A former professional diver, Allen is in his fifth year as diving coach at FAMU.
This year, however, only three out of his four are competing. Gary Banks, the winner of both the one and three meter events at the last Southern States Conference, has been redshirted for this season, which will preserve his eligibility to compete his final two years on campus.
“This will definitely give him the edge for the next two years when he’ll be competing,” Allen said. “He is in great form right now and with training this year, it will give him the advantage next year when he competes again.”
In terms of the others, he said he expects at least two, if not all three, to place in the top eight at the Southern States Conference in February.
“I think the biggest thing that would help the team would be for the SGA and the Famuan to increase the awareness of the pool and the swim team. There are 13,000 people on campus and half don’t even know that there is a swim team. You know, we have African Americans and minorities here in what is a predominantly white sport, and they are very good at it,” said assistant swim coach Andre Bailey.
“This is an exciting sport. Competition is usually keen in most events, and as such, the crowd gets drawn in as they encourage the person they want to win. We love the crowd because it gives us a lot of energy. Also, everyone involved in the meet has a good time,” Riley said
The team will participate in the Orange and Green Intersquad Meet Sunday and will take on Florida Southern at home Oct. 26.