The swimmers are back in the water, and there's a lot of excitement around the pool deck.
The Ashland University swim team will begin its 2015-16 schedule on Friday (Oct. 9) when it travels to Tiffin University to take on the Dragons.
Head coach Derick Roe is thrilled about the veteran presence that has been setting the tone early on for the Eagles.
"It's been great having senior leadership in our program this year," said Roe. "You can see the difference in the preseason training and the way the seniors are leading the charge, with everyone else following right along."
The Eagles have seven seniors this season, compared to only one last season. There are five female swimmers - Kylie Bartram, Beth Long, Paige Martin, Kaylyn Murphy and Hannah Mattar - and two male swimmers - Jesse Ireland and Sergio Sanchis Peris.
Mattar returns as a national title contender in 2015-16. A season ago, she earned three first-team All-America honors at nationals, finishing fourth in the 200 breaststroke (2:15.77), fifth in the 400 individual medley (4:19.47) and sixth in the 200 IM (2:01.95).
"We are really excited to have her (Mattar) back, and are looking for her to be in the top eight in all four events this year at nationals," said Roe. "Last year, she was ninth in the 200 fly, and was only one spot away from completing that goal."
Sophomore Ryan Deemer also returns from a season where he was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference freshman of the year. At the GLIAC Championships, Deemer won the men's 500 freestyle (4:36.72) and the 1,000 free (9:24.61).
Sophomore Grace Reichard also earned herself a GLIAC title last season, claiming gold in the 200-yard free in 1:51.67. She will be back to defend her title.
"I'm just really looking forward to getting our feet wet (Friday), seeing where we're at," Roe commented. "We've been training unbelievably well up to this point, and I see ourselves pretty far ahead of where we started last season."
Friday's meet at Tiffin will begin at 5 p.m. The Eagles' first home contest is Nov. 7, when they play host to the Wayne State Warriors.