Duneland Athletic Conference
Swimmers to watch: Julia Campbell, So., distance, back; Kate Curley, So., distance, IM; Olivia Kabacinski, Jr., free; Megan McLaughlin, Sr., IM, fly, breast; Maddie Miller, Jr., IM, back, breast, fly.
Outlook: The Trojans placed fourth at state last season. Six swimmers who competed at the meet return, including defending 200 free champion Kabacinski. Sophomore Mae Bass returns from an illness, while classmate and diving regional qualifier Marissa Kroeger is also back on the squad. The Trojans also welcome a solid class of seven freshmen which coach Kevin Kinel believes will play a part in the lineup.
Quote: "The kids get along very well. We're excited to see the season come along. We've got a nice group back, and our freshmen have a lot of good experience from age group." -- Kinel.
Swimmers to watch: Hannah Raspopovich, Jr., free, breast; Holly Schuster, Fr., IM, distance; Rachel Borkowski, Fr., free, back.
Outlook: Though Crown Point does have a lack of depth this year by its standards, the Bulldogs still expect to be competitive with the top teams in the area. Newcomers Schuster and Borkowski are expected to make an immediate impact, even in the postseason.
Quote: "I feel we can be 10-2 at the worst-case scenario. Our team is mostly underclassmen, so I'm looking forward to seasons to come." -- coach Bryon Angerman.
Swimmers to watch: Shelby Carroll, Jr., back; Sara Kielbasinski, Sr., diving; Liz Markiewicz, So., fly; Jill Tharpe, Jr., breast.
Outlook: Carroll and Tharpe come off successful cross country seasons to be two of the top swimmers for Lake Central. The loss of some seniors -- such as Alexis Palkovich -- will definitely hurt. However, the Indians have a talented class of incoming freshmen and should remain as a top team in the region.
Quote: "I think we'll be very competitive in the DAC. I'm excited to see how these girls perform." -- coach Todd Smolinski.
Swimmers to watch: Chloe Christ, Fr., back; Carly Jackson, So., distance, fly; Jaclyn Lewis, So., breast; Emily Matheny, Sr., distance.
Outlook: Jackson qualified for state last season in the 500 free and she also broke the school record in the 100 fly. Added to the mix are Lewis, a Michigan City transfer, and a quality freshman class that includes Christ.
Quote: "Carly sets a great example for us. We could surprise some people this season, and the swimmers are excited." -- coach Bart Frank.
Swimmers to watch: Kaitlin Phillips, Sr., diving; Jill Ross, Sr., free; Kelsey Sadjera, Sr., breast; Hailey Holden, Jr., distance; Kara Phillips, So., diving; Kennedy Wilck, Fr., free.
Outlook: The Pirates look to be competitive in the DAC this season while attempting to improve on last season's seventh-place finish at the Chesterton Sectional.
Quote: "We are a young, hardworking team. We have the potential to do some good things this year as long as all athletes step up to the challenge." -- coach Ladd Downham.
Swimmers to watch: Bridget Callaghan, Sr., back; Elizabeth Dobben, Sr., breast, sprints; Kristina Parrish, Jr., distance, IM; Stephanie West, Sr., diving.
Outlook: Seniors Callaghan, Dobbin and West are part of group which helped the team finish sixth at sectional last season. Now the Wolves look to improve that mark.
Swimmers to watch: Tayler Bayer, Jr., distance; Sierra King, Jr., breast; Jordan Parker, Fr., distance, fly.
Outlook: Cristina Gonzalez is now at Indiana University, so Bayer and King are now in the leadership role. Parker heads a group of freshmen that has gained quality experience in age group.
Quote: "We've had a great start. Some people have exceeded expectations already. Our feeder program has really helped us. We won't have to people in new events this season." -- coach Greg Mundt.
Swimmers to watch: Allie Lamberson, Jr., free; Basia Niziolek, Sr., sprints; Jeanne Nolan, Sr., diving; Danielle Radosevich, Jr., back; Kaitlyn Steffus, So., fly, distance; Jeanne Nolan, Sr. diving.
Outlook: Nolan qualified for state last season, and the Vikings boast a quality class of juniors.
Quote: "The bulk of our team was that sophomore class. As juniors, we're getting closer to know what they can do. We now have higher expectations." -- coach Pete Sattler.
GREAT LAKES ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Outlook: The Pioneers will need to work very hard to chase the other teams in the GLAC this season.
Swimmers to watch: Nicole Doughty, So., diving; Stephanie Maman, Jr., back, relays; Helen Shelton, So., breast, relays; Katie Goodrich, So., IM, fly, relays.
Outlook: The Gladiators will field a young team with small numbers this season, so the focus will be on individual improvement.
Quote: "Nicole Doughty will be a strong diver for us. I look for them all to improve on their times." -- coach Bobbie Hayes.
Swimmers to watch: Alex Kaminski, Jr., breast; Amanda Navarro, Sr., free; Jasmine Navarro, Sr., free
Outlook: Hammond would like to capture the GLAC title this season, something the Wildcats got a taste of in 2008. About 12 girls are out for the team this season, enough to fill most of the events.
Quote: "Alex and the (Navarros) are going to provide the depth of my team this season. They're veteran swimmers." -- coach Sue Ann Mathewson.
Swimmers to watch: Lauren Kudlo, Sr., breast, 50 free; Mallory Coto, Sr., back, IM; Marisol Flores, Jr., breast, IM.
Outlook: Morton has about a dozen girls out for the team this season and will look to Kudlo and Coto to provide leadership to the group of incoming freshmen.
Quote: "It's a new year with a whole bunch of new kids. Hopefully, we can win conference." -- coach Brian Rycerz.
GREATER SOUTH SHORE CONFERENCE
Outlook: Sophomores Jacque Lelo (the team's captain) and Breanna Banske have taken matters into their own hands to recruit more athletes out to boost Noll's program. The Warriors have eight swimmers out this season, up from just three last year.
Quote: "I'm looking forward to developing these athletes and continuing to grow the Bishop Noll program." -- coach Pam Armagast.
Swimmers to watch: Kalese Thomas, Fr., IM, back; Erica Goodson, Jr., 50 free, 100 free.
Outlook: Calumet started with no returning swimmers, but generated enough interest to get enough girls out to fill every event. New coach AnnMarie Keene takes over for Danelle Bulatovich.
Quote: "Kalese and Erica have been doing very well, considering where we were at before." -- Keene.
Swimmers to watch: Cassie Cox, Sr., distance; Shelby Crone, Sr., IM, fly; Jenny Madrigal, Jr., free, back; Tara Hindes, So., diving; Jessica Pea, So., diving.
Outlook: Like many small schools, North Newton will field a small swimming team. There will be several newcomers to the sport this season.
Quote: "We hope to be competitive at our meets and see many personal bests throughout the season." -- coach Karen Cunningham.
Swimmers to watch: Gabbi Popovich, Sr., fly, breast; Isabella Popovich, So., sprints; Kelly Nikolich, Jr., sprints, distance; Audrey Snow, So., back, IM.
Outlook: The Bearcats remain as the top team in the conference, and the squad hopes to improve on last season's fourth-place finish at sectional.
Quote: "We've got a good base form last season. We have quite a few new swimmers to come in and fill the holes really nicely. Our sophomores now have a season under their belt and that should really help them." -- coach Adam Klimczak.
Swimmers to watch: Kyconda Butler, Sr., 50 free, back; Malisha Washington, Sr., breast.
Outlook: Butler and Washington both attended Purdue's swim camp during the offseason. As a result, both are expected to post much better times than last season.
Quote: "I'm expecting great things. We're looking at the Northwestern Conference and trying to make an impact there." -- coach Leslie Dillon.
Outlook: The Cougars lost a lot of depth due to graduation last season. This could be Roosevelt's chance to overtake them this season.
NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE
Swimmers to watch: Alyssa Lanting, Sr., distance; Casey McDaniel, Sr., breast; Kali Lastagarkov, Jr., fly, free; Rachel Garastic, So., distance; BriAnne Andriessen, So., diving.
Outlook: Griffith will look to have a winning record this season and remain competitive in all of its meets. The Panthers will need to find a way to replace Ali Pietrucha, arguably Griffith's best all-around swimmer last season.
Quote: "We will get a lot from our juniors and seniors, but our freshmen and sophomores will need to step up for us to be successful." -- coach Sam Fies.
Swimmers to watch: Alexis Wilkins, Sr., fly, IM; Heather Pappas, Sr., breast; Jordan Galovich, So., free.
Outlook: The Trojans lost a large amount of swimmers to both graduation and a matter of time commitment. Fortunately for coach Ryan Harrington, this is the largest amount of swimmers (including lots of freshmen) he's ever had at Highland, which forced him to actually make cuts this season. The Trojans should remain a fairly strong team.
Quote: "We're almost going to nurture our younger swimmers. We're going to do the best with what we've got, and who knows, we might surprise some people." -- Harrington.
Swimmers to watch: Chanler Rosenbaum, Sr., sprints; Christie Bigby, Sr., breast; Kirsten Sidebottom, Sr., diving, sprints; Morgan Garteau, Fr., distance, back; Alivia Pender, Fr., back, IM.
Outlook: The Brickies have just one thing on their minds: Avoiding a repeat performance of last season's last-place finish in the NCC. There are 34 girls out this season, so depth certainly won't be lacking.
Quote: "I think we can (improve). We have Wheeler on Thursday, so we'll see what happens after that." -- coach Cindy Carter.
Swimmers to watch: BreAnne Chevrette, Sr., free; Tressa Hester, Sr., diving; Lindsey Strong, Jr., free.
Outlook: The Kougars hope to remain competitive in the NCC this season. As a middle-of-the-pack conference team in 2009-10, K.V. coach Kevin Stephens believes his team can possibly moved up a spot from fourth place.
Quote: "We are young (12 freshmen). Our success is going to depend on the development of this ninth-grade class." -- Stephens.
Swimmers to watch: Alyssa Stangal, Sr., back, free; Emily Staniewicz, Sr., breast; Morgan Campbell, Jr., back; Rachel Smith, Jr., back.
Outlook: Though the Red Devils lost two of the best swimmers in Lake County in Bridgette Ruehl and Giorgia Nigro, confidence is still high with some key returnees.
Quote: "We have good leadership and good attitude, and I'm confident we'll be able to stay close to where we were at last year." -- coach Sherry Hilbrich.
Swimmers to watch: Brittany Gilbert, Jr., back, fly, free, relays; Jillian Homans, Jr., mid-distance, free; Elaine Pitsas, Sr., free; Karly Taylor, Sr., diving; Courtney Lagestee, Sr., diving; Emily Lagestee, Fr., back.
Outlook: Though Munster lost state qualifiers in Sarah Sikora, Stacey Wierman and Nina Damjanovich to graduation, rebuild is not a word you'd find in the Seahorses dictionary. Gilbert, Homans and Pitsas, who has been limited by a knee injury, will be expected to lead the team. The Seahorses expect another successful showing at state after finishing third last season. Munster ('06) grad Julie Feingold takes the reins of the team this season.
Quote: "I'm hoping they get a top-five finish at state. I'm definitely looking to the (upperclassmen) to lead the team." -- Feingold.
Outlook: The Cardinals did not record any points in last season's Crown Point Sectional finals. Development will be key this season.
Outlook: The vast majority of Rensselaer's team is back this season. After a seventh-place finish at the Crown Point Sectional, there is definitely room for improvement upon that result.
Swimmer to watch: Tori Klimczak, So., free.
Outlook: Klimczak was fifth in the 500 free and seventh in the 50 free in a deep field at last season's sectional. The hope is that Klimczak can build on last year's experiences and possibly qualify for state.
Quote: "It should be different, since last year we were in uncharted waters. Tori felt like she had a lot of weight on her shoulders. She's realized there's no pressure. It is what she makes of it." -- coach Gretchen Klimczak.
!~ Compiled by Matt Douthett and Jim Hunsley