An abundance of veterans on the pre-season roster should make the Flying Dutchmen a contender in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in 2011-12.
Coach John Patnott begins his 32nd season at the helm of a nationally respected program he began in 1978. Over his tenure as coach of the men's and women's program, he has counted 116 All-Americans and had national champions 30 times. The Flying Dutchmen have been MIAA champions 12 times.
A year ago the Flying Dutchmen finished runnerup in the MIAA to rival Kalamazoo. In a meet that counted more than 3,200 points, the Hornets edged the Flying Dutchmen by a meer 40 points. The year before Hope edged Kalamazoo for the conference championship by just 25 points.
The 2011-12 pre-season roster includes 20 returning letterwinners. There are three freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and 10 seniors.
Co-captains of the team will be seniors Patrick Frayer (Grand Rapids/East Grand Rapids HS), Aaron Rittenhouse (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS), Andrew Rose (Holland/Grandville HS), Jeffrey Shade (Davison/Davison HS), and Brian Yount (Franklin, Ind./Franklin Community HS).
Seven returning swimmers received All-MIAA honors a year ago -- Patrick Frayer, junior Josh Grabijas (Howell/Howell HS), junior Nick Hazekamp (Janesville, Wisc./Joseph A. Craig HS), sophomore Jacob Hunt (Muskegon/Mona Shores HS), junior Geoff Ludema (Ada/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Andrew Rose and Jeff Shade.
Josh Grabijas was the MIAA champion for the second consecutive year in the 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle. The Hope record holder in the 1,650, Grabijas also competed at the 2011 NCAA Division III national championships in the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyle. Other returning conference champions are Jeff Shade in the 400 individual medley and Jacob Hunt in the 100 butterfly.
The regular season will begin and end with Hope hosting an MIAA event at the Holland Aquatic Center. The MIAA Relays will be held Saturday, Oct. 22 and four months later (Feb. 16-18) the MIAA championships will come to Holland.