Junior Devin Burnett
Nov. 5, 2013
DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU men's swimming and diving team has a new league for 2013-14 but the goal is the same.
The Mustangs are aiming for their 17th conference championship in the last 18 years. SMU returns two All-Americans, nine All-Conference USA selections and 23 letterwinners as it seeks to claim the first American Athletic Conference Championship this winter.
Head Coach Eddie Sinnott begins his 25th season on the Hilltop, having been named conference Coach of the Year 16 times. During his tenure, the Mustangs have had 11 NCAA top-15 finishes, 337 All-America honors and 237 conference champions.
"Our goal every year is to raise a banner on our way to qualifying for the NCAA Championships," Sinnott said. "Going into the new American Athletic Conference presents an exciting new challenge for our program."
The Mustangs will be led by senior captain Nicolai Hansen. For the Mustangs to succeed in the American, SMU needs to capitalize on the fundamentals of speed and strength, Coach Sinnott explained.
"Our mantra for this season is `bigger, faster, stronger'," Sinnott said. "Nicolai has done an outstanding job thus far leading our team. He is very motivated and has led by example and always has a great attitude; it is fun to see."
Hansen is one of nine seniors. This is a "strong group of individuals" Sinnott said, noting that there is a senior in every event except diving.
Hansen and senior Ryan Koops return with All-America honors they earned as part of the 14th place 400-yard freestyle relay team.
A year ago, junior Devin Burnett placed 23rd in the platform dive and 19th in the three-meter dive at the NCAA Championships. He had first places in the platform, one-meter and three-meter dives at the C-USA Championships.
Head Diving Coach Jim Stillson noted that Burnett's experience in 2012-13 was invaluable and will help him greatly this season.
"Devin is among the top 20 divers in the country and his experience plays a huge role in that," Stillson said. "The atmosphere and pressure at the NCAA Championships is unlike anything he had ever been through in his athletic career and that experience will serve him well this season."
Burnett can also play an important role as a leader for the rest of the divers. He especially will help freshman diver Bryce Klein, who comes to SMU fresh off a successful high school career.
At Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, Klein was a four-time high school All-America selection, the 2012 USA Diving Junior National Champion in the three-meter dive and a finalist at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
"Health is the key to our success, but I expect a great season," Stillson said. "Top to bottom, our divers will be very competitive at every meet.
SMU opens its season on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Fort Worth, Texas in a dual with rival TCU.