2003-04 Season Outlook

Sept. 25, 2003

By Jana Hemphill and James Roe

The Iowa women’s swimming and diving team enters the 2003-04 season with a squad of four seniors, nine juniors, nine sophomores and five freshmen. Head Coach Garland O’Keeffe has high hopes for her team.

“If we could move up in the Big Ten standings, it would be phenomenal,” said O’Keeffe. “Our bigger goal is to qualify more athletes for the NCAA Championships.”

The Hawkeyes lose only two seniors from last year’s squad that placed 20th at the NCAA Championships – the highest placing in school history – on the all-America performances of juniors Lisette Planken, Jennifer Skolaski and Nancilea Underwood. Skolaski and senior Christie Hooper will serve as team co-captains this season.

“I’m excited about the leadership for this season,” said O’Keeffe.

The senior class is comprised of Michelle Bagi, Lisa Haunz, Hooper and Jackie Molzahn. Hooper looks to build on an impressive 2002-03 season, where she had 30 top-five finishes, including 10 wins. Her strengths will include middle distance freestyle and the butterfly. Bagi and Haunz will continue to bring strength to the backstroke and butterfly. Molzahn will add depth to the sprint freestyle events.

“Our team continues to move in the right direction. The entire coaching staff is looking forward to building on the successes we experienced last season,” said O’Keeffe.
Head Coach Garland O’Keeffe

The large junior class will continue its strong efforts from last season. Skolaski is expected to build upon last season, where she broke school records in the 100 backstroke and 400 individual medley. Skolaski earned second team all-Big Ten honors for taking second in the 200 backstroke at the Big Ten Championships and also earned all-America honors for her eighth place NCAA finish in the 100 backstroke. She notched 33 top-five finishes, including 18 wins.

Other returning juniors are Erin Cochran, Kristen Eide, Katelyn Eustis, Molly Gable, Caitlin Girdley, Katie Haeger and Abby Van Maaren. The juniors will be a force in sprint freestyle events, with Cochran, Gable, Girdley, Haeger and Van Maaren competing. Eustis and Girdley will also add depth to the middle distance freestyle. The breaststroke events will be led by Eide, Haeger and Kunnemann, while the backstroke will look to Eustis and Van Maaren.

The sophomore class is returning Andrea Hemphill, Karen Kelly, Katie Koenig, Erica Noah, Jeni Sanderson and Kelly Werner. Werner led the team last season in the 100 butterfly and looks to strengthen her times not only in the butterfly, but also in the backstroke and sprint freestyle. Hemphill led the Hawkeyes in the 200 butterfly last season. Joining her in the individual medley will be Koenig. The team should also get strong performances from Koenig and Noah in middle distance freestyle. Sanderson and Kelly will compete for the Hawkeyes in the sprint freestyle events.

Senior co-captain Christie Hooper will lead the Hawkeyes this season.

Newcomers for the Hawkeyes are Emmy Haeger, Katie Martin, Erin Petty, Robin Samples, Jaclyn Sarna and Joyce VanKeulen. Petty and Samples were co-champions in the 50 freestyle at the state meet last year, and will help fill the sprint freestyle events. Haeger will join them in adding depth to the sprint freestyle. Martin, a sophomore transfer from Wisconsin, is expected to bring strength to the sprint and middle distance freestyle. VanKeulen, the second athlete to hail from the Netherlands, will also add depth to the middle distance freestyle.

O’Keeffe is expecting much from the freestyle events, and especially the freestyle relay teams this year. “I’m most excited about the 800 free relay because we are very strong in the 200 free. I believe we have a good chance of qualifying for the NCAA Championships,” said O’Keeffe.

As always, diving will be a strength for the Hawkeyes, although all-American Nancilea Underwood has opted not to compete this season as she has been invited to train with the US National team in preparation for Olympic trials.

Lisette Planken returns from an outstanding ’02-03 season and an even more impressive summer. Planken finished fourth in one-meter diving and ninth in the three-meter event. She also managed to set the one-meter diving championship record at 314.90 points. Planken represented her native country, the Netherlands at the World Championship games this summer where she placed eighth in the one-meter and twenty-third in the three-meter. She also competed at the World University Games in South Korea, placing eighth in the one-meter and 10th in the three-meter. Katie Bures will help add some depth to the diving squad after sitting out last year.

“Our team continues to move in the right direction. The entire coaching staff is looking forward to building on the successes we experienced last season,” said O’Keeffe.