Swimming team anchored by solid leadership

The men’s swimming team has gained valuable experience during the course of a dramatic season in front of their home crowds. The team captains have started to form unity among a diverse group of individuals. This year, the team has developed very quickly and has been pushed by a newer recruiting system to reach a new level of competition with the championship competitions coming up.

“In general, the team is advancing to the right place…. [All of this is] not specifically for this year, but also for years to come. People will see our team building up and it will be a snowball,” said Mickey Malul, breaststroke swimmer.

The team has found success, emerging past strong competitors to bring the program back to the national prominence they once experienced. The team just barely lost in a very close neck-to-neck match-up with Western Kentucky and placed some outstanding times against Tennessee.

Furthermore, the Jackets competed at the famous short-course championship, simultaneously gaining more experience during the competition. At least four members, Malul, Onur Uras, Mauricio Sousa and Way Joe Lee, will be preparing for an event other than Tech’s team, with the four chosen to represent their countries at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“I will compete in the European’s. I will do my best and probably even more…It will be a new experience for me to compete in the Olympics, but will not be a new experience as far as trying to beat a standard time,” Malul said.

The Tech team has some high standout players this season. Senior Onur Uras has been very busy preparing for the Olympic Games as well as acting as one of the leaders on the team. Uras emphasizes the mental endurance, stamina and strengths when speaking amongst fellow teammates. For instance, Uras and Malul led a record-breaking 200-yard medley relay team at the Tech Invitational, an event which also featured another first-place finish for Uras in the 200-yard butterfly.

“We’re definitely doing a lot better than we did last year at the meets. I can see us getting mentally and physically [tougher]. I’m sure we’ll be ready for the next meet,” Uras said.

Nonetheless, relay standout Jacob Kwasnik has been participating in numerous events this season. Kwasnik unexpectedly took up responsibilities of being a captain after a fall-out from a former teammate. He has been a key player in some of the relay events and has earned a leadership position. When criticized for taking the fall at the final relay event against Western Kentucky, he has used the comment as motivation Kwasnik has raced with even more intensity since. He recently held a fast time of 20.96 seconds in the 50-yd free at Senior Day.

“[J. Kwasnik] is doing a pretty good job. He was chosen by the team and is taking care of what needs to be taken care of. Both [Onur’s and Jacob’s] egos are not up to the sky and they are taking on the responsibilities as captains,” Malul said.

One can not say enough about the major positive transformations of the team led by Malul, a recent transfer. The Israeli native has been taking care of business in a very serious and productive manner. He has been earning many points for the teams in very tight matches in individual breaststroke events and the medley relay. For example, Malul’s participation in the 200-yd breaststroke, which is ‘not his best event’, saw himto touch the wall at the dual meets against Virginia Tech and Western Kentucky in fast times of 2:07.93 and 2:07.20, respectively.

“We’re trying to get to the NCAA [competition] so the times we are trying to accomplish are not just winning against Western Kentucky, although they are high ranked, so we’re getting a bit closer to the NCAA competition,” Malul explained.

Noah Copeland’s skills have proven himself to be worthy of a captain position. His stamina has come out for points in relays and long-distance swimming.

“I think a lot of pulling it through has to do with mental toughness and not giving up when the going gets rough and just knowing that you have teammates behind you to back you up. It’s a great feeling,” Sousa said.