HOLLAND -- Hope's defending Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) champion men's and women's swimming/diving teams launch their season Saturday, Oct. 30 with dual meets against conference opponents Olivet and Saint Mary's.
It will be the first of three consecutive Saturday home dates for coach John Patnott's teams. The season will culminate in March when Hope hosts the NCAA Division III women's and men's national championships at the Holland Aquatic Center.
Hope's sweep of the MIAA championships in swimming and diving a year ago marked the seventh time in school history that the fete had been accomplished. The Flying Dutch went on to finish 10th nationally while the Flying Dutchmen ended 16th.
Coach Patnott begins his 25th season at the helm of the swimming/diving program. His teams have won 27 conference championships -- 19 by the women and eight by the men. He has coached 104 NCAA All-Americans and had national Division III champions 30 times. Three times in his career he has been voted the Division III national coach-of-the-year.
This year's teams return a strong nucleus of veterans. The men's pre-season roster has 16 returning letterwinners and includes nine freshmen, seven sophomores, four juniors and seven seniors. The women's pre-season roster has 17 returning letterwinners and includes five freshmen, nine sophomores, six juniors and three seniors.
Co-captains of the women's team are junior Lisa Baran of South Lyon (South Lyon HS), senior Sarah Smith of Dearborn (Dearborn HS), and senior Erika Steele of Portage (Portage Northern HS). The men's team co-captains are seniors Jeff Heydlauff of Chelsea (Chelsea HS), Chris Lininger of Kalamazoo (Portage Central HS), and Matt Waterstone of Holland (Holland HS).
The teams include six swimmers who achieved NCAA Division III All-America status a year ago -- junior Kurt Blohm of Wilmington, Ohio; junior Lisa Ekdom of Holland (Holland Christian HS), senior Jeff Heydlauff, sophomore Lisa Smith of Dearborn (Dearborn HS), junior Sarah Smith and senior Erika Steele.