Looking to build on her first year at the helm of the Oregon State swimming program, head coach Jennifer Buffin will lead the Beavers into the 2017 campaign with the first event of the season at the Osborn Aquatic Center at 6 p.m. Friday.
OSU will host Willamette University and Southwestern Oregon Community College in the meet.
“As a staff, we’re really excited for this second year,” said Buffin. “Last year we wanted to develop relationships with the athletes we inherited, especially the 10 seniors, and our goal for every individual was to get better throughout the year and to make sure they’re finishing at their best so they don’t get burned out in their senior season.
“We were able to make some changes as far as what the expectations were and held the athletes to a much higher standard. We wanted them to be more competitive and to believe in themselves that they can make an impact regardless if they were a senior or a freshman.”
The Beavers will have 15 swimmers on the roster for the 2017 season with nine newcomers and six returners taking to the pool. The returners include the senior class of Allie Kilroy, Noemie Midrez and Emma Osowski.
Megan Lam returns to the pool as a junior while Merritt Allen and Felicia Anderson will make an impact in their second year in the program. Fresh off an appearance at the US Open, Anderson aims to be another impact swimmer for OSU.
“Felicia was a huge impact for us last year,” said Buffin of the Portland native, “especially coming off a great summer, she’ll continue to make an impact for us on the relays and in her individual events.
“Making it to the top-24 at the Pac-12 Championships last year, her goal this year is to crack the top-16 and to take those steps to improve at the conference level. If she continues to do so then she’ll make bigger strides in making the NCAA Championships.”
Of the nine newcomers, seven are from the region as Amina Bachir (Las Vegas), Isabelle Bishop (Davis, California), Callan Jackman (Dublin, California), Rachel Larsen (Eugene), Riley Neal (Hillsboro), Madelyn Rainey (Bellevue, Washington) and Fernanda Rodriguez (Portland) all made a relatively short trip to Corvallis.
Morgan Kollen (Zeeland, Michigan) is the lone newcomer outside the region while Arianna Letrari (Bolzano, Italy) joins the team as an international transfer.
“Our goal, when we were recruiting, was to build on the foundation we set last year,” said Buffin of the newcomers. “Making sure we made the first step with this incoming class and making sure they understand the expectation of being in a Pac-12 program and knowing they’ll make an impact.
“I’m excited for this class. We have a lot of raw athletes who haven’t realized their full potential and it’s exciting for us as coaches. Being able to develop these athletes, to see what we can do with them over the course of the season, implementing a new training program, working with them on personal development and how they are growing and mentally approaching the year are all exciting for us as a staff.”
Letrari joins the Beaver swim program after competing in the Italian trials the previous year and will make an immediate splash in the pool.
“Arianna will be a huge impact for us,” said Buffin. “Being third at the Italian trials means she’s probably our fastest in the butterfly and has the greatest potential to make the NCAA Championships this year based off her past performances and times.”
Now fully into her second year, Buffin intends to keep building the program up beyond the competitive side.
“This year is about really starting to establish what the culture of this program is and the expectation moving forward,” said Buffin. “As long as we’re getting better in the Pac-12, then we’re making strides.
“We’re striving to get better. The expectation this year is to keep taking those smaller steps since we know we’re going to have our challenges with only 15 on the roster. On the other hand, there are advantages with the roster size as we can make sure to set the right culture and give the attention the athletes need in order to be successful.”