Swimming and diving preview: Bobcats open promising season Saturday at Wesleyan

The Bates men's swimming and diving team is ranked 10th in its region and the women's squad is fifth, as the season begins Nov. 19 at Wesleyan.  (File photo by Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- With a No. 14 national ranking, seven returning All-America performers and year after year of steady improvement, the Bates women's swimming and diving team is poised for another great season in 2016-17. And the Bates men's team isn't far behind.

The season won't draw to a close until the NCAA Championships in mid-March, but its beginning is already upon us, with back-to-back dual road meets this weekend. Bates competes at Wesleyan on Saturday at 3pm, followed by Sunday's 12pm meet at another NESCAC rival, Trinity.

The Bates women's team placed 11th in Division III and second in the NESCAC two years ago, then was 12th and third, respectively, in 2016. Even after graduating four All-Americans from the Class of 2016, its prospects have rarely looked better. 

The Bobcats will be led by an all-time Bates great in senior Sara Daher (Marblehead, Mass.), who was recently named a Division III Preseason All-American. It's no wonder: Daher has already won more All-America honors than any Bates athlete in history. She claimed six All-America honors in 2016, including a career-best second-place showing in the 200-yard individual medley.

But Daher is only the tip of the All-America iceberg for the Bates women: also dotting the roster are senior five-time All-American Julia Smachlo (Rexford, N.Y.), junior six-time All-American Logan McGill (Dallas, Texas) and four additional one-time All-America performers in junior Anabel Carter (Camden, Maine), junior Nell Houde (Meriden, N.H.), junior Hope Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) and sophomore Kristy Prelgovisk (Oakland, Maine). Senior All-NESCAC performer Emma Jarczyk (Sudbury, Mass.) leads the Bobcat diving crew.

The Bates men's team matched its best-ever finish at the NESCAC Championships in 2016 by placing fifth. From that squad, the Bobcats return two 2015 All-Americans -- juniors Riley Ewing (Bedford, N.H.) and Teddy Pender (Muscat, Oman) -- as well as four other 2016 All-NESCAC selections, in senior Jack Dina (Kenilworth, Ill.), junior Mike Connolly (Duxbury, Mass.), senior Josh Rines (Hollis, N.H.) and senior Daniel Walpole (Montclair, N.J.).

The men's team is ranked No. 10 in the Northeast-North Region by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, and also received some votes in the national top 25 poll. 

Following this weekend, Bates competes in a newly established Maine State Meet, taking place Dec. 2-3 at Bowdoin. The WPI Invitational on Jan. 29 is another new, multi-team event on the schedule this year. Bates' lone home meet this season will be Jan. 13 against Bowdoin.