Hovland previews swimming and diving recruiting class

Sam Schlenner, Sports Editor

This year’s swimming and diving recruiting class is good, according to head swimming coach Pete Hovland.

“I wouldn’t classify it as a great class,” he said.

He ended the sentence with “yet.”

“It’s a class on the women’s side that’s full of potential,” Hovland said. “No superstars, even though we have some high school state champions.”

The squad is going to need to develop and receive a lot of coaching.

“But that happens every year,” Hovland said. “That’s part of the process.”

Freshmen Sarah Stine and Angelique Wise fill an empty roster on women’s diving. The men’s side is one man short because of sophomore Stirling Fordham’s departure on a Mormon mission after his second year at Oakland. He may be attending Brigham Young University upon his return, Hovland said.

Joe Smith and Adam Polosky, the two remaining divers, will have some work to do.

Two swimming recruits are Kirstyn Abbasse and Micah DeJonge. They’re both legacies.

“DeJonge is the son of one of the greatest female swimmers in school history [Nancy Schermer DeJonge],” Hovland said. “He’s a high school state champion in the middle distance events. He really fills a need and fills a hole on the men’s program.”

DeJonge will swim middle distance and distance in the freestyle. Although he doesn’t fit perfectly into a vacancy on the team, the mid and long free are always needed.

“You can never have enough,” Hovland said.

Especially of someone who performs like DeJonge.

“I think Micah was rated the fourth or fifth best high-school recruit in the state of Michigan last year,” Hovland said. “I think he’s got a bright future. … Getting in a college environment is going to be really really beneficial to him. I think he’s only going to continue to grow and blossom.”

DeJonge’s even got a chance, if he improves, of getting on the 4×200 yard free relay this season.

“His time coming in, in the 500 freestyle, is faster than Devon Nowicki’s,” Hovland said. “As a freshman, Devon won the 500 last year [in the 2016 Horizon League Championship].”

A guy who can compete at the top in his first year is a good find, Hovland said.

Even though DeJonge’s mother swam successfully at Oakland, his father went to Michigan, and Wolverine sports reigned supreme in the household.

“I really didn’t ever think about coming to Oakland seriously until end of my junior year,” DeJonge said.

But now he’s here.

“Upperclassmen are showing me how everything’s done and getting me up to speed with some of the team traditions,” DeJonge said. “It’s kind of cool seeing all that and experience it for the first time.”

Abbasse is the daughter of two former Oakland swimmers, Darin and Dana Abbasse, who were both All-Americans, according to Hovland. She’ll be swimming freestyle sprints and middle distance, which is needed, Hovland said.

Abbasse’s parents sang the graces of Oakland. They also lived close to the university. Oakland was at the top of Abbasse’s list, but she didn’t seriously consider attending until the beginning of her senior year. She went on one official visit, and that’s all it took for her to decide.

“Everybody’s really nice and really helps you blend in and merge and get to know all the routines,” Abbasse said. “I think that helps a lot.”