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November 1, 2012

Rose swimmers near top because of vets, youth

TERRE HAUTE — Rose-Hulman swimming depth is at an all-time high, putting the Engineers at No. 15 in the NCAA Division III national rankings.

Terre Haute native John Huster and fellow senior Matt Ross are playing a big role in the Engineers’ early-season success, but the veterans are getting a big push from the team’s freshmen.

Orion Martin’s time of 50.09 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly leads all of Division III and ranks 63rd among all NCAA competitors. Martin beat swimmers from Purdue and Ball State in the Indiana Intercollegiates to win Oct. 20 at Purdue.

The Rose seniors are impressed with him and freshmen Jacob Davidson, now the school record-holder in the 500 freestyle. Freshman Sam Gould of South Putnam has also made an impact in diving.

“As a senior, you don’t like to get shown up by a bunch of little freshmen. It’s a driving force for me to work harder,” said Ross, who was the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Outstanding Performer last season.

Huster, a 10th-place finisher in the state finals during his days at Terre Haute North, is a two-time conference champion in the 100 butterfly. Huster welcomes the added talent on the team that also includes freshman Matt King.

“It’s really helped push us for a change. It’s nice to have someone that’s a little bit faster. Makes me focus more and get better,” Huster said.

The Engineers are a long way from achieving their ultimate goals, Huster explained. The conference meet is Feb. 14-16, but there’s plenty of competition between now and then to hit NCAA qualifying times.

“The goal is All-American, top 8 at nationals,” Huster said. “Coach [Keith Crawford] is doing a really good job of getting everybody into competition shape.”

Ross, the son of Purdue head swim coach Dan Ross, stayed at Rose during the summer to train. Ross holds the school records in the 200 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley.

“Didn’t quite get to train as much as I wanted to this past summer, but with new recruits and a few more training partners, coach has stepped up the workouts early in the season,” Ross said.

Crawford hopes the Engineers can continue to progress and put up a solid team point total in the NCAA meet.

“At this stage of the season, these guys are swimming faster than they ever have. That’s pretty exciting,” Crawford said. “Both seniors, they’ve decided they want to do something big with their senior year. In addition, they’ve got a very talented freshman class.  This group of seniors, they’ve worked to raise the standard of what’s expected to be on the Rose-Hulman swim team.”

Huster credits faster times to sustained work ethic at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium and weight room.

“Since I’ve gotten to Rose, I’ve started lifting more, it’s really helped to drop some time. As far as pace, that’s just picked up in practice over time, especially this year,” Huster said

The Engineers are hoping to win a conference title this season as well after taking third the past two seasons.

“Definitely coming in, my freshman year, we were middle of the pack stuff,” Ross said. “As we’ve progressed through, my class especially has worked to change the culture on this team. We’ve got some hard workers to take that next step and bring the program to the next level.”

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