September 27, 2013

Veteran King squad carries high expectations into season

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Last season didn't end the way the King University swimming & diving team wanted it to, as they came home with a ninth place finish at the Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships. However, the Tornado have set some loft goals, that they expect to achieve with a core of experienced swimmers, and a solid group of newcomers for the 2013-14 season.

Senior Christian Knobloch, who holds the school record in the 200 meter freestyle, will lead a Tornado squad aiming to finish in the top half of the conference and break every school relay record this season.

Knobloch was one of the team's top performers last year, setting his school record at the Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships in February. He was also a member of the school-record 800 meter freestyle relay team at the same event and will be expected to improve on his stellar performances from last year.

Joining Knobloch as captains on the squad will be fellow seniors Taylor Horton, Alek Nochowicz and Mason Edmonds. Horton set several personal records during the 2012-13 season, while Nochowicz joined Knobloch on the record-setting 800 meter freestyle team. Edmonds will be looked upon to provide senior leadership and return to form after missing nearly all of last season with an injury.

"These captains have kind of taken over the group and tried to point them in the right direction. I'm kind of excited about that," said head coach John Connor. "We've decided that this year is going to be different than the past. Our guys are going to take it a little more seriously and go after it a little harder."

Sophomore Donny Vogelsong was the only swimmer to qualify for the conference finals of an individual event last year, finishing among the conference leaders in the 200 meter butterfly. Fellow sophomore Reynold Thibideau swam his personal-best time in the 200 meter individual medley at the conference championships in February. Both swimmers will look to improve this season upon their solid freshman campaigns.

A host of newcomers will make this perhaps the deepest team the Tornado have ever fielded. Junior college transfer Nick Piumelli and freshman Brian Stroinski will provide the team with much needed depth, while freshmen Tyler McBee and Michael Leach are expected to earn key points in distance events.

"We've put in many more miles than we usually have at this point in the preseason," said Connor. "We've improved quite a bit with the practice we've been doing. We anticipate trying to break into the top four in the conference this year and setting some new school records."

The King men's swimming and diving team opens its season on September 28 against Brenau University, Milligan College, and Thomas College in Gainesville, Ga. The Tornado will host two home meets this season, welcoming Emory & Henry College to Bristol on November 15 before hosting Warren Wilson College a week later. The Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships will be held in Christiansburg, Va. from February 13-15, 2014.