Coci leading men’s swim improvement

Swim and dive; breaststroke; BYU; ASU

Senior Deniz Hekmati swims the breaststroke at a Friday, Jan. 11, swim meet against BYU. The men on the swimming team are looking to improve their performance, which was aided by Friday’s defeat of BYU. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

It has been no secret that ASU swimming has been dominated by the swimmers with longer hair under their caps.

The swimmers with shorter hair are trying to change that.

Just last year the women finished No. 12 overall at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Fast forward one year later, coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker has the ladies right where they left off.

Tierney-Walker seems to be more focused on the men’s improvement.

Last year, the men didn’t record a single win in any of the dual-meets and placed a weak seventh in the Pac-12 championships. Tierney-Walker said toward the end of last year that the team had a long way to go, but that the potential was there.

The potential showed last weekend when the men defeated BYU.

Tierney-Walker knew that the training over the holiday break would help out the team, and she was right.

Help has also come from a new swimmer competing this season. Alex Coci, a junior transfer from Alabama, is at the core of the men’s team transformation.

“He’s always there for us,” Tierney-Walker said. “He does a fantastic job across the board in every race we put him in.”

Coci was a first-team All-American last year in the 200-meter butterfly, as well as a 2012 Olympian when he competed for his home country of Romania. The fact that he is in Tempe is a credit to Tierney-Walker’s recruiting.

Tierney-Walker looks forward to putting the team’s improvement to the test.

“I’m never comfortable,” she said. “We will see what happens when we compete against two of the best teams in the country in Stanford and Cal, so I’ll let you know then.”

Weathering the storm

Diving coach Mark Bradshaw said after the BYU meet Friday that his divers did well, considering the weather.

“It seemed like the wind kicked up every time (Hailey Casper) was going, so she got a couple of bad take offs,” Bradshaw said of his junior diver.

Bradshaw said windy weather makes it tough for the divers to focus and that they really struggle to have a decent take off the board. He said it is not an excuse, though: You can succeed in the bad weather.

The ASU swim and dive team’s next meets are in two weeks when they welcome conference foes Stanford on Jan. 25 and California on Jan. 26, weather permitting.

Reach the reporter at ross.dunham@asu.edu