BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green State University swim team opens its regular season schedule on Friday, taking on Ashland and Wayne State at 3 p.m. at BGSU's Cooper Pool.
The Falcons are coming off a dominant performance at the Tom Stubbs Relays, where the team took first in eight out of ten races and set three meet records against a field that included defending Mid-American Conference Champion Toledo. Senior Emily Bennet, who swam in five winning relays, was named MAC Swimmer of the Week for the first time in her career following the meet.
The Falcons face both Wayne State and Ashland for the first time on Friday. Wayne State comes to Bowling Green after winning the NCAA Division II Championships in March. Ashland also placed well at that meet, finishing seventh overall.
"Both are very strong teams," said head coach Petra Martin. "When you are racing teams that have experienced national level success in any division you need to have your A game on as they are bringing something very special to the table."
Wayne State is led by NCAA individual champions Carol Azambuja (200 freestyle; 200 backstroke) and Kayla Scott (100 breaststroke).
The Falcons' four seniors are well-represented in the record books, with Alexis Kain (100- and 200 breaststroke) and Alexa Harris (200 backstroke) holding individual school records. Emily Bennet, the Falcons' best sprinter, is top-three in BGSU history in the 50-, 100- and 200 freestyle. After an impressive showing at the Tom Stubbs Relays, Bennet is in position to have her finest season yet. Jen Beatty, a fifth-year senior on the Falcons' roster, is an Academic All-American who is top-ten all-time in five events for the Falcons. Combined, the members of the senior class hold six school records and account for 16 times on the BGSU all-time top ten list.
The 2012-13 Falcon roster features 11 new faces - ten freshmen and one transfer. The new talent has already made an impact, as Bowling Green's "A" and "B" squads outperformed the field at the Tom Stubbs Relays. Joëlle Scheps, a junior transfer from the Netherlands, is positioned to be a standout for the Falcons after strong performances in the preseason. Freshmen Jordan Bullock (butterfly), Kayla Effinger (sprint freestyle) and Daniela Carrillo (breaststroke) are strong in their specialties and each contributed to Bowling Green wins at the Tom Stubbs Relays. Other top returners include Emily Waller, Brittany Szekely, Erica Nieminen and Carmen Young.
The Falcons have already completed three preseason tests, leading into the regular season opener against Wayne State and Ashland. On Sept. 29, the team celebrated homecoming with the Jean Campbell Alumni Meet, where past BGSU swimmers returned to Cooper Pool to race against the current athletes. Alumni in attendance included Sarah Reinink, Dean Shaw, Tom Herringer, Amanda Rom, Ray Martin, Megan Bomicino and many more.
The Falcons next swam in the annual Orange versus Brown intrasquad on Oct. 5, where the Brown team defeated the Orange in a narrow contest. Joëlle Scheps and Emily Bennet each won four races, with Scheps helping the Brown squad seal victory in the final race - the 400 freestyle relay.
The team's first test against outside opponents came on Oct. 12 with the Tom Stubbs Relays. The Falcons welcomed Toledo, Akron and Youngstown State to Cooper Pool to compete in a series of ten relays. Bowling Green started strong, winning the 200 medley relay and the Falcons didn't let up from there, rallying to win eight of ten races, setting three meet records in the process. Bennet again led the team, winning every event she entered and earning MAC Swimmer of the Week for the first time in her career.
The 2012-13 Falcons look to improve upon an eighth-place finish at last year's MAC Championships, along with an 0-6 conference record through the regular season. Already in the preseason Bowling Green has performed well against defending MAC Champion Toledo and fellow MAC opponent Akron at the Tom Stubbs Relays. This season's MAC schedule for the Falcons includes meeting Buffalo at home (Jan. 19 with Michigan State) and traveling to face Miami (Nov. 2), Ball State (Nov. 3), Eastern Michigan (Jan. 12) and Akron (Feb. 1). Buffalo will host the MAC Championships from Feb. 28-Mar. 2, where the Falcons will look to make a significant improvement from last year.