Both Teams Finish 2010-11 in National Rankings
SAINT LEO, Fla. – Managing the first NCAA National Tournament appearance in its current era, the Saint Leo swim program and second-year coach Paul Mangen put a feather in the program's collective cap after the dust settled from the season.
For the first time, the Lions finished ranked in the top-25 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America in both the men's and women's national polls and Saint Leo claimed both an individual representative at the NCAA Tournament (Maggie Walker) and an individual champion in the inaugural Sunshine State Conference Swimming Championships (Michael Cozzi, 1,000yd free).
"Both Michael and Maggie performed as we had expected and provided the spark needed to get the program moving in a forward direction," Mangen said. "As (Saint Leo Director of Athletics Fran) Reidy has put it, we have the fly wheel moving and to have six people qualify for NCAA Nationals is a huge step. That being said, we swim in one of the top three conferences in the country and we will have to exceed this past year's accomplishments two-fold in order to compete at the level we desire."
Named to the All-SSC First Team, Walker was the only Lion to represent Saint Leo in the NCAA Swim Championships where she dominated the 50 and 100 yard freestyles and contributed in the 100 yard butterfly and 100 yard backstroke as she set new team marks in each event. Making the biggest strides in the SSC Championships in February, she made her biggest mark in winning the championship in the 100 freestyle, a win that ultimately propelled her to the national competition. She was also named the Sunshine State Conference's Swimmer of the Week on November 1st.
On the men's side, Cozzi was one of a number of solid performers for the Lions as he claimed the SSC title in the 1,000 yard freestyle in the championship's first day. The conference second-team member set new marks for the Lions in swimming the 200, 500, 1000 1650 yard freestyle events and also in the 100 yard breaststroke. Cozzi earned his stripes as one of the Lions most enduring swimmer of the season as he was also a member of four relay teams that set new school records in 2010-11. His ultimate surprise came when he was named the 2011 Saint Leo Male Athlete of the Year at the Annual Athletic Award Banquet in April.
A sport that is a blend of individual accomplishments and team achievements, the two newcomers were not the only ones to set marks in 2010-11. Other accomplishments include:
- Finish Season Nationally ranked, 23rd both sides
- Four CSCAA Academic All-Americans - Derek Maddigan, Michael Cozzi, Antonio Roki, Maggie Walker
- 26 Team Records broken vs. 16 last year
- Record improvement: 2009-2010 Record: 3-8 (SSC 0-6) 2010-2011 Record: 8-1-7(SSC 5-1-6)
Looking forward towards 2011-12 Mangen said, "Noticeably, we will be adding a strong number of student-athletes that will perform in the classroom, the pool, and in a manner that is expected at Saint Leo University. Coupled with the strong leadership and groundwork laid from this past season we will look to improve our conference presence and put a premium on the Sunshine State Conference championship in February. "
Mangen will spend the summer month finalizing his 2011-12 roster and will announce his additions prior to the beginning of the fall semester.