The Canisius College synchronized swimming team will begin its quest toward a 17th-straight ECAC Championship on Friday night, when the Griffs’ begin the figures portion of their dual meet with Wheaton College.
“We’re going to come out and debut our routines and swim really hard,” said head coach Jill Shovlin. “I don’t want them to hold back at all, I always tell them that I want them to go hard out of the gate. Wheaton is an excellent competitor, they’ve been second in the east for a long time and it’s always exciting to go against them.“
The Blue and Gold swept every category of the ECAC Championship meet in 2013, and went on to finish fourth at the U.S. Nationals.
“We’re definitely really motivated to win ECACs, it’s always one of the major goals of our season,” Shovlin said. “It’s a tradition that I’m really proud of, especially in our last year here, so we’re working really hard towards that.”
Senior Svetlana Ponkratova
Senior Svetlana Ponkratova will once again carry a heavy load for the Griffs in 2014, the three-time All-American will once again serve as a soloist for Canisius as well as competing in a trio and team routine.
The Griffs will also add sophomore Laura Schmidt as a soloist this season. She will carry a similar workload to Ponkratova in that she’s competing in three different categories.
“Svet has her big workload – solo, trio and team. We’re going for her fourth year of All-American, which would be awesome and we’re going to see if we can’t get her some medals again at Nationals.”
“Laura has three routines this year, she’s in the A trio with Laina and Svet, and they’re all really hard workers and deserve it. Laura will also be debuting a solo routine this year as well. We’re going to have two solos that count and she knows she’s got Svet to look up to, so I think it’ll be a great competition.
Senior Svetlana Ponkratova and former Griff Victoria Mintz
The Griffs are debuting a new duet pairing this season, with senior Jessica Mancini and sophomore Laina Gray set to take the pool together for the first time against Wheaton.
Gray and Mancini were each part of the Griffs’ team routine last season.
“Laina is moving up to the ‘A’ trio and is also in the ‘A’ duet. I’m really trying to go for All-American for Laina this year. I think she’s deserving of it and is really working hard, so we have big goals for Laina.”
Mancini is also in the duet with Laina Gray, and I’m also hoping for All-American for her as well. I’m also putting her in ‘A’ figures against Wheaton, which is a big step up for her.
Canisius' Trio Routine at the 2013 U.S. Nationals
Canisius will feature a pair of trios this season – one with Ponkratova, Gray and Schmidt, and another with seniors Morgan Lebrecht, Deanna DeSimone and Mancini.
The Blue and Gold had its lowest finish of any category in the trios last season, placing sixth and seventh, so it’s an area that the Griffs can use to move up in the overall standings in 2014.
“Deanna is one of my captains and she is an awesome teammate to these girls. She’s in the second trio and is on the team routine this year, which is a way bigger load than she’s had in the past. She’s been working really hard and I’m excited to see what she can do at nationals.”
“Morgan is another one of our seniors she’s in the trio with Disimone and Mancini, she’s also on the team routine. That trio is like my anchor, they know what I expect and they’re know that we need them to put on a great swim every time.”
Canisius' Team Routine from 2013 U.S. Nationals
The Griffs head into the 2014 campaign with the same focus as they did in 2013 – to put the most emphasis on the team competition to improve their standings at the U.S. Nationals.
Canisius returns six of its members from last year’s group that finished fifth overall. Senior Viktoria Mironova (who was on the team routine last season) and sophomore Kristin Oswald will join DeSimone, Gray, Mancini, Lebrecht, Ponkratova and Schmidt in hopes of improving on last year’s finish.
“Vika is on the team routine this year. She’s got a really big spot on team, she’s one of my anchors and she know what I expect – flawless everytime.”
“She made the team routine this year, which is a big step up for her. She’s been working really hard and I’m excited for her.”
Canisius will kick things off on Friday and Saturday Feb. 21-22, and will attempt to defend its ECAC title just one week later (March 1-2).
The Griffs will close out their schedule with the third and final meet of the season at the U.S. Collegiate Nationals March 19-22 in Oxford, Ohio.
The season will get underway on Friday with figures at 7:30. Routines will start on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.