Courtesy: Joe Browning Senior Joe Gallene is UNCW's top-returning swimmer in the 50 and 100 Freestyles.
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW opens the 2013-14 swimming and diving season on Friday when they host nationally-ranked Tennessee in a 4 p.m. start at the Seahawk Natatorium.
The Seahawk men enter the season having extended their Colonial Athletic Association championship run to 12 straight after winning again in 2012-13. The women, meanwhile, look to continue their climb in the CAA as they welcome another strong freshmen class to the program.
Head Coach Dave Allen enters his 37th season with the program. During his tenure, Allen has earned CAA Coach-of-the-Year honors 15 times and guided the Seahawks to 15 total conference titles.
Heading up the Seahawks on the men’s side are standouts Michael Baric, Joe Gallene and Valtteri Halonen.
Baric, a senior, finished tied for eighth overall with 47 points scored for the Seahawks at the CAA Championship. He earned All-CAA honors with third-place finishes in both the 100 Backstroke and 200 Breaststroke. He narrowly missed adding all-conference honors in the 200 MI with a fourth-place finish.
Gallene posted UNCW’s top times as a junior in both the 50 and 100 Freestyles. At the CAA Championship, he totaled 39 points on the strength of winning the 100 Free and swimming legs on three winning and meet-record setting relays.
Halonen, a junior, won the 200 Backstroke and finished second in the 100 Backstroke. Both times were season-bests for the Seahawks He is UNCW’s top-returning scorer from the CAA Championships, where he finished third with 53 points scored.
The Lady Seahawks will look to replace Carly Tanner, an NCAA qualifier and three-time CAA champion from last season. Coach Allen will look to sophomore Jenson Engen, who earned CAA Co-Rookie-of-the-Year. As a freshman, she earned All-CAA honors swimming on the Seahawks’ third-place 200 Medley Relay. She also scored points with top-five finishes in the 100 and 200 Breaststrokes.
Hannah Stephenson, a junior, was All-CAA in the 100 Backstroke, where she finished second. She also swam legs of the 200 Medley and 200 Free Relays.
Senior Rachel Sears will strengthen the Seahawks in the relays after earning All-CAA honors in both the 200 Medley and 200 Free Relays.
In Diving, junior Chase Seymour enters the season looking to improve upon his sophomore campaign where he made strides and scored for UNCW in the 1-meter board finals with an eighth-place finish.
Tennessee finished 19th at the NCAA Championships on the men’s side and while the women finished third overall, the highest in the program’s history. Both programs welcome back a multitude of scorers from the NCAA meet.
Helping the Vols to that impressive finish was Tori Lamp, who returns for her senior season. Lamp was honored as the 2013 CSCAA National Diver-of-the-Year and earned All-America honors. She was also the SEC Diver-of-the-Year and an all-conference selection.
The Vols men’s team returns All-America Samuel Rairdan, who has nine All-America honors to his credit in three seasons. On the women’s side, Lindsay Gendron, a senior, set a Seahawk Natatorium record in the 100 Free (50.88) last September.
The Seahawks continue their season on Oct. 12, when they visit Richmond for a tri-meet along with former CAA rival Old Dominion.