In the fall of 2004, Lars Jorgensen took over a University of Toledo women's swimming and diving team that was short on tradition and long on disappointment.
Now, six years later, Jorgensen is seeing the fruits of his labors to rebuild the program.
The Rockets finished the regular season ranked No. 37 nationally as they head into the Mid-American Conference championships, which start today.
The UT swimmers and divers have never won a MAC team title, but will be one of the favorites to do just that after compiling a 14-2 record in dual meets. The Rockets went undefeated against MAC opponents, and their only losses came against national powers Michigan and Ohio State.
“It's really been a great season so far,” Jorgensen said. “We've accomplished many things that we haven't accomplished before in program history, so that's good. But the whole season really boils down to the MAC championships. We're pleased with what we've accomplished so far, but we're really looking forward to competing in the conference championships and the NCAA championships.”
Jorgensen has helped guide UT swimmers to 16 MAC individual titles, which is 14 more than the school's total before his arrival.
“We have a lot of people that are hungry for success, and I think that's huge,” Jorgensen said. “We don't have a whole lot of tradition of great swimming at Toledo, but the girls have worked extremely hard just trying to put Toledo swimming on the map.”
The Rockets will have several contenders at the MAC championships this week, including sophomore Laura Lindsay. She was named national swimmer of the week two weeks ago following her two victories in the 100 and 200 breaststroke against Buffalo.
Lindsay has competed 21 times in those two events this season and walked away victoriously 19 times.
“She's really awesome,” Jorgensen said. “She's worked extremely hard and been a great leader.”
Lindsay leads UT in individual titles this season, followed by freshman Carly Harter with 16 wins and junior co-captain Jacy Dyer with 13 victories.
Senior Caitlin Cormack has proven to be UT's most versatile swimmer, recording top-five finishes in eight different events.
“It's been fun, it really has,” Jorgensen said. “We have a great group of girls. They work hard, they do well in the classroom and in the community, so it's nice to see this come together after starting off in its infancy and seeing the stages of building it.”
SOFTBALL: Tarrah Beyster recently picked up her first win as UT's new head softball coach.
The Rockets defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 9-3 in nine innings on Sunday as they wrapped up play at the First Pitch Classic in Charlotte.
UT is 1-4 on the year and takes to the diamond again next week, when they will begin a stretch of 13 games in nine days in Jacksonville and Clearwater, Fla.
“It was great to get the first win of the season,” Beyster said. “I think we grew over the weekend as a team. Clearly, there are areas where we need to continue to improve, but as long as the girls continue to believe in the process, I think we're only going to keep getting better in every aspect of the game.”
The Rockets' home-opener is March 17 against Southern Utah.
BASEBALL: Former UT infielder Jake Oester has been invited to spring training with the Chicago White Sox.
The four-year starter for the Rockets is scheduled to report to Glendale, Ariz., Thursday.
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org.