Sydney Asselin, Chloe Palajac and Sara Plohetski look to help Hope College challenge for a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in women's swimming & diving this season with a deep and balanced lineup.
The three co-captains will be key in the Flying Dutch generating the team support they need to be at their best when the league title is determined in February, head coach John Patnott said.
"It's going to be a close meet with Calvin," Patnott said. "There are a few years they have dominated. There are a few years where it's a 25-point difference. Out of meets where both teams are scoring about 1,000 points, that's pretty close.
"We have to have enthusiasm and excitement for every dual meet. Some dual meets aren't as hard, so we need our captains to be a little more rah-rah and get us excited about competing and supporting each other. We want to get used to supporting our teammates. That's absolutely critical at the league championship."
Hope opens the 2017-18 season this weekend with the annual Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Relays.
The nonscoring meet will be held at Calvin College, with a 6 p.m. start time. It does not count toward the MIAA championship.
The Flying Dutch have a roster of 27 swimmers and divers, including their captains.
Palajac and Plohetski are among four returning All-MIAA performers Hope has.
Palajac, a senior from Dearborn, Michigan (Dearborn), pictured in middle, captured an MIAA title in the 100 butterfly last season and was part of three runner-up relays at the league meet.
Plohetski, a junior from South Lyon, Michigan (South Lyon), pictured at right, placed third in 1- and 3-meter diving at the MIAA Championship last season.
Asselin, pictured at left, is a freestyler from junior from Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian).
The Flying Dutch have six seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores and nine freshmen on their roster.
Sophomore Erin Emmert of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Flint Powers Catholic) took third in two events at the MIAA Championship last season en route to All-MIAA honors. She swims the butterfly, backstroke and individual medley.
Sophomore Paula Nolte of Elmhurst, Illinois (York Community), also was All-MIAA last season after winning the 200 breaststroke at the league meet and taking part in two runner-up relays.
Other seniors for the Flying Dutch are: backstroke Paula Hines of Vienna, Virginia (James Madison), diver Kristin Janssen of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville), freestyle Allison Lindquist of Louisville, Colorado (Peak to Peak Charter), breaststroker and backstroker Adrienne Smith of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven), and freestyler Sarah Zieschang of Austin, Texas (Veritas Academy).
"Our strength is we're deep in the breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. We're very strong for our league in the distance events," Patnott said. "We just don't have as many top end sprinters, but we're a pretty balanced team. We'll have a great chance to win the league."
The Flying Dutch's schedule includes five dual meets and four invitationals before the MIAA Championships at Calvin College from Wednesday-Saturday, February 21-24.
Hope will host the Michigan-Illinois Quad on Saturday, January 13 at Holland Community Aquatic Center.
The Flying Dutch will swim two MIAA dual meets at home at Kresge Natatorium on campus: Saturday, January 6 against Kalamazoo and Saturday, January 20 against Olivet for Senior Day.