Rebranding the Linfield swimming program into a Northwest Conference-championship contender is a task which energetic coach Kyle Kimball embraces.
With Kimball assuming the helm, there’s every reason to believe the Wildcats are collectively on the upswing. Much of that optimism is owed to the solid leadership and skill of veterans Ian Coker, Ian White, Devin Pritchard, and Elizabeth Fry.
“We have some great captains and other instrumental leaders within the team,” said Kimball. “We have a close-knit team and that will help as we gear up for the conference championships in February.”
Both squads finished at or near the bottom of the nine-team NWC last winter, positions the Wildcats are unaccustomed to.
“Our team goals include moving up in the conference, getting individual best times, growing our team, and moving ourselves into position to contend for the conference title in coming years,” said Kimball.
“Our team can improve the little details that make a big difference,” he said. “We need to work more on our starts, turns, and streamlines. If we can improve those details in the water, we will make huge strides.
The men’s squad features a stable of capable freestylers in White, Jonathan Tillery, Hayden Cooksy and Matt Hanson.
White and transfer Juan Vidal are the leading competitors in the butterfly events. The Wildcats’ best challenger in the breaststroke is Chris Purdy, a senior who expects to return to the squad once the season resumes in January.
A.J. Wagoner is the leading returner in the backstroke. David Brody and Chris Hu provide Kimball with versatility across the four strokes.
For the women, juniors Nikki Overton and Elizabeth Fry return to anchor the freestyle races. Brandi Halemano rejoins the team after a one-year hiatus to compete in the breaststroke. Leading backstrokers include a trio of freshmen in Tina Medeiros, Erin Nelson and Ashlyn Edmondo. Rita Cohen is the Wildcats’ top threat in the butterfly.
Kimball’s training approach “embraces solid pace training while conditioning our swimmers to be overall athletes.
“The more well-rounded our athletes are, the better swimmer they will be. We also focus on feel and positioning the body in order to become faster moving through the water.”
Where will the Wildcats up at the end of the season?
“I truly believe Linfield can be the best team from Oregon team within our conference this year,” said Kimball. “That’s our goal and if we can achieve it, it will position us well in future years.”