By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
GREEN BAY – The UW-Green Bay Phoenix swimming and diving team has been preparing long and hard during the off season and is ready to finally get into the 2023 season.
As UW-Green Bay Swimming and Diving Head Coach Alex Lewis heads into his third season leading the program, the team is hopeful that things are shifting to an upswing.
After a tumultuous 2022 season, Lewis said that the program is facing some challenges in filling the gaps left behind by some high performing athletes on the team last season. However, he is hopeful that current performers are able to step up and do their part.
“Jeremiah Mansavage was one that was a tough loss for us, but we are looking to get some athletes in here to step up and help fill that,” said Lewis. “He’s kind of changing roles with the team. He’s graduated, but now he’s helping out as our graduate assistant coach. He was a very talented young man.”
During his time with Phoenix swimming and diving, Mansavage was a four-year letterwinner. According to Lewis, he was an essential part of the team last season when he secured a career-best 50.54 and first place finish against St. Norbert College in the 100-yard freestyle. Mansavage also clinched the first place spot in the 2022 season against Northern Michigan University in the 400-yard medley and against UW-Milwaukee in the 200-yard medley.
What lies ahead
Lewis said that after last season, the team will be facing some more stability this year that he is hopeful will create a much better environment for growth.
“I’m looking forward to the team adapting for the first time. Last year there was a lot of new stuff — doing doubles for the first time, new lifts, a lot of new work with a new coach, so I’m looking forward to them taking a step ahead and knowing what is expected of them on Day One,” said Lewis.
Lewis also said that he has some high expectations on both the men’s and women’s side, in terms of performance and their accountability as athletes to ensure that they are in peak health.
“I think (a big change will be) understanding what is expected of them when there are a lot of new expectations after changing coaches. A lot of it is more, just trying to get a feel for, ‘Should I be sore at this time? Should I be tired? How do I adapt?’ So I think right now the biggest change for them is just more of them understanding what they need to do week to week,” said Lewis.
According to the 2023 Horizon League Coaches’ Preseason Poll, UW-Green Bay is expected to take the sixth and final spot in the standings, while Oakland takes the top spot on the women’s side and IUPUI is expected to top the standings on the men’s side.
While the team will face some tough opponents all season, Lewis said that there is always one meet that is sure to draw a crowd.
“UW-Milwaukee is always big. That meet is usually towards the end of the season. On January 27th, they come here. That’s our senior night and I think that will probably be one of the bigger meets of the year.”
Last season, the Phoenix traveled south to take on the Panthers while the men lost 141-160 and the women faced a 73-219 loss as they look to redeem themselves this year at home.
Lewis said that he is excited to witness some more breakout seasons for some already top performers on the team this year.
“On the men’s side, Sebastian Smolecki, who was one of our more outstanding performers last year, broke our 200 IM record. He is going to look to come back and complete that feat again this year. Again, he’s a strong leader for us,” said Lewis.
“Calvin Kremer is another senior on the team that is going to do a wonderful job for us. He looks at his best right now, early in the season, which is good.”
As the 2023 season begins, the men’s side has started off strong with a 154-146 win over St. Thomas University, while the women face an uphill battle after taking a 126.5-172.5 loss.
Both the men and women will face UW-Milwaukee in an away meet on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. as they dive even deeper into the 2023 season.