BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's swimming and diving squad announced its team awards for the 2011 season. Head coach Andy Bashor and his staff made the following presentations: Phil Aronica was named as Rookie of the Year; Paul Garman earned the Most Improved Award; Sterling Gell won the Leadership Award and Jared Heine was selected as the Most Valuable Performer.
Aronica made an impressive debut with the Bulls as part of three record setting relays at the Mid-American Conference Championships and racing in the finals of three events. He set the 100-yard backstroke record of 48.03 during the team's victory in the 400-yard medley relay (3:14.98). He finished third in the 200-yard backstroke in a season-best 1:47.45 and fifth in the 50-yard freestyle (season-best 20.69) and 100-yard backstroke (49.81). He was also part of the 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays that set school records swimming the opening leg in both races as he earned All-MAC First Team and CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major All-American Team honorable mention honors.
Garman competed as an exhibition entrant at the MAC Championships, setting season-best times in four races. He turned in a 21.74 in the 50-yard freestyle, 47.84 in the 100-yard freestyle, 1:42.95 in the 200-yard freestyle and 1:55.42 in the 200-yard individual medley.
Gell earned championship points at the MAC meet with his eighth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke finals in 57.27 after setting a season-best time of 57.00 in the preliminaries. He also tied for 20th in the 50-yard freestyle in a season best 21.31 and placed 28th in the 100-yard freestyle in 47.32, setting another season best.
Heine was part of four winning relays at the MAC Championships as the Bulls set school records in each race. He anchored the 200-yard medley relay in 1:27.87, earning an NCAA B cut and breaking the old UB record by nearly three seconds as well as setting the MAC and MAC Championship records in the event. Individually, Heine won the 50-yard freestyle championship in a season-best 20.26 and the 100-yard freestyle in 44.44 after he broke his own school record in the preliminary heats as the fastest qualifier with his 44.38 clocking, breaking his 2010 mark of 44.67. For his efforts he was named to the All-MAC First Team and CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major All-American Team as an honorable mention.
The Bulls claimed their first league title winning the four-day Mid-American Conference Men's Swimming and Diving Championships at Southern Illinois University in March.