Pete Accardy gambles on stocks and race horses. But when it comes to his job, the Cal State Northridge swim coach covers his bets as often as possible.
That is especially true when the stakes are as high as they are at the NCAA Division II swimming and diving national championships, which begin today and run through Saturday at State University of New York at Buffalo.
The 13-member Northridge women’s team is bidding for its third consecutive title and Accardy would appear to be playing with a stacked deck.
“We have somebody we feel can make the finals in every race,” Accardy said. “They’re all swimming as well as ever.”
But Northridge will be hard-pressed to match its dominating performance of a year ago when it outscored second-place Tampa, 441-285, to win its third national championship since 1982.
“People have been saying that this is the best women’s team ever assembled,” Accardy said after last year’s meet. “I’d have to agree with them.”
However, that distinction may be passed to this year’s squad.
Last season’s team broke six NCAA records and 15 school standards; those totals could be approached again. And of the six CSUN swimmers who set records in last year’s meet, backstroke specialist Chris Breedy is the only one not competing here this week.
Tina Schnare, a senior in the breaststroke, has a perfect record at national meets. Schnare has won titles in both the 100- and 200-yard events each of the past three years. Accardy is predicting that she will conclude her Northridge career the way she started it--by breaking Division II records in both events.
“She has trained harder than she has since her freshman year,” Accardy said of Schnare. “She’s primed.”
Along with Schnare, other Northridge swimmers expected to challenge for titles are Toady Kimble and Jude Kylander (freestyle sprints), Carol Eisele and Lisa Dial (medley), Jeanna Giessinger (middle-distance freestyle) and Michele Sulak (freestyle and butterfly).
The Northridge men’s team has set a less optimistic goal for the week. The Matadors, who won nine national championships from 1975-85, will try to avoid dropping out of the top 10 for the first time in Accardy’s 19 seasons as coach.
Cal State Bakersfield is expected to win its fourth consecutive men’s team championship. The CSUN men had visions of a national championship of their own until nine team members were declared academically ineligible at midseason.
Among Northridge’s six qualifiers is Ted Hollahan, defending champion and Division II record-holder in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles.
CSUN’s Rick Giambastini, a transfer from University of the Pacific, is among the favorites in the 200-yard butterfly.