Denver Men’s Roster Shrinks by 10 After Tumultuous Season

The University of Denver men’s swimming & diving team has had its roster decimated over the past year, losing members since punishments were handed down for a large off-campus party in September 2020 violated COVID-19 regulations. The Denver men had 26 men on their 2020-21 roster at the time of the COVID-19 violations, and they finished the season last week with just 16.

Summit League Championship meet results, meanwhile, show just 11 swimmers actually racing at the final meet of the year, as South Dakota ended the Hilltppers’ 7-year run of conference dominance.

38 members of the Denver swimming & diving program attended the party and were thus suspended. At the time, SwimSwam counted 26 men and 28 women on the roster. The party was thrown despite local and state health restrictions as well as university policies that limited gatherings to 10 people, with all participants required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing.

Those 38 students were suspended from team activities for the remainder of the fall semester, which went until late November, resulting in the team’s season not beginning until January 2021. It is still unknown which 38 students attended the party and were suspended, and exactly who among that group is still on the team or quit/transferred.

The Denver men slid to third at the 2021 Summit League Championships, scoring over 500 fewer points than in 2020 and snapping a seven-year win streak at the meet. The roster was at 29 during the 2019-20 season, when the Denver men and women claimed their seventh consecutive Summit League title. Prior to this season, the two programs have combined to win 152 of the last 154 event titles in the Summit League.

Here’s the end-of-season roster breakdown for the 2020-21 Denver men:

  • Seniors – 4 (including one redshirt senior)
  • Juniors – 2
  • Sophomores – 2
  • Freshmen – 8

Of that group, all eight freshmen and two sophomores raced at the Summit League Champs, while out of all the upperclassmen on the current roster, just one junior, Darragh Mahns, competed. Mahns was one of the team’s top contributors with 47.5 points individually.

On the men’s side, sprinters Cameron Auchinachie and Sid Farber were among the biggest losses, as both were 19-low freestylers, while Auchinachie has been an NCAA scorer. Auchinachie, who is no longer on the roster, was set to compete as a senior, while Farber, who is on this year’s roster but didn’t race once, was set to be a redshirt senior during the 2020-21 season.

Meanwhile, Adriel SanesPatrick Groters and Cy Jager, who were the highest individual scorers for Denver at the 2020 Summit League Champs, have all disappeared from the roster despite each having at least one season of eligibility left (not including the COVID-19 extra year). Sanes, for one, recently announced his transfer to Auburn on Instagram.

It was a stark difference from 2020 to 2021 at the Summit League Championships, as Denver went from 1081 points and a win margin of over 300 points in 2020 to just 575.50 points in 2021. They were over 200 points behind second and over 300 behind first.

The Denver women, meanwhile, retained their 28 roster members through the 2020-21 season. They won their eight-straight Summit League title easily in 2021, bringing a 23-person roster to the meet.

Denver is two seasons in with new head coach Alicia Hicken-Franklin, who was an assistant at Denver for 16 years before spending three seasons (2016-17 to 2018-2019) as associate head coach at Minnesota. She took over for Brian Schrader after the 2018-19 season after he spent 13 years at the program’s helm.

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Jeff Farber
3 years ago

Du Red Shirt Senior, Sidney Farber, posts the 8th fastest time 22:15 in 2021 Olympic Trials in prelims. He will swim tonight against the elite class in USA Swimming for a spot in the 50 free final tomorrow
He gives his coaches at DU much of the credit. Brian Schrader and Alicia Franklin and all the assistants, thank you! That’s all you need to know.
Jeff Farber
Swim swan give us some ❤️

3 years ago

Indiana says “hold my beer”…

3 years ago

@Karl Ortegon, correction in your last paragraph: Alicia was an assistant coach at Denver for 5 years and then an associate head coach at Denver for 11 years. Also, questioning the purpose of this article and the comment board. It seems like an inappropriate platform for DU swimmers that were “let go” to vent their frustration and place blame on others. I’ve read more than one misogynistic comment that should likely be filtered by swimswam.

Reply to  DUSwammer
3 years ago

I think it’s a legit follow up. This was a Top 20 or 25 team a year ago and I think even in SwimSwam’s early season rankings. So, when the event happened and the roster suddenly shrunk to 16 or whatever, it’s only natural to have someone follow up to report on what happened after the September party.

former DU/NCAA swimmer
3 years ago

As a DU swimmer I experienced rampant alcohol-related hazing and violations that tainted my college swimming experience and left me with trauma. Sadly this is not a problem unique to my experience or to DU, but a culture issue affecting prominent mid-major swim programs across the country. Its easy to forget that these are young adults making mistakes facilitated by team culture condoning recklessness, selfishness, and lack of respect for the rules and expectations inherently attached to the privileges of training and competing as and NCAA student-athlete. I feel for all involved in this situation, whatever the real story is, and I hope that the leadership can take this as (yet another) wake-up call to push for change.

3 years ago

Everyone has a right to their opinion. Sadly, the internet and gossip leads to misinformation. This head coach asked her swimmers to be honest, the fast majority (38) did tell the truth. They were punished, they all accepted it. Unfortunately DU decided that they were going to use this team as an example for the rest of the school, they told the head coach to get rid of the bad apples. She informed the swimmers that there was no longer any place for them on the team. Ironically, the 1 that lied, is still on the team, tested positive for Corona, broke quarantine and jeopardized other swimmers by visiting them. Coaches should lead by example. Her statement (BLACK ON WHITE)… Read more »

3 years ago

Having swam for the current head coach as an assistant her heart is in the right place. She works hard and does what needs to be done and knows how to get swimmers faster. She is ready to lead the program. This past year was a mess for everyone across the country, making decisions in the midst of this pandemic was stressful and tough.

DU alumnus
3 years ago

As Denver fan, this makes me angry. All the swimmers knew the rules. Life is full of rules that we all may not like or agree with, but the Covid rules were set to keep the community safe. Swimming for a D-I program is a huge privilege – they are ambassadors for the school, and part of being a Division I athlete is adhering to rules – be they Federal, State, Local, School, Athletic Department or Swim Team rules set by the coaches. Those rules are in place for your safety, your teammates’ safety and the community’s safety. Break them and you risk suspension or worse.

Whether or not DU blew the punishment out of proportion is irrelevant, and what… Read more »

Reply to  DU alumnus
3 years ago

Expecting 18-21 year olds not to have a party is pure ignorance. I never saw an article about a COVID outbreak so I guess no harm came of it. And you kick them off the team for it? Give me a break.

Reply to  DU alumnus
3 years ago

No one quitted, they were removed from the team. The person who called the coaches to get her teammates in trouble is probably the one who hurted the team the most.

Act like an adult, then swim.

Reply to  DU alumnus
3 years ago

obviously you were not part of the team meetings, and you have no idea what this coaching staff said during their meetings. 38 of the 39 that were in the backyard that particular Saturday accepted the punishment and moved on. Making 5 pay because it is their house has nothing to do with following rules or respecting protocol. Worse, the 1 person they kept on the team, is the one who actually lied about being there, tested positive for Corona and broke quarantine to visit other swimmers. Nobody quit. The head coach removed swimmers from the team. The ones that decided to leave on their own did so, because they did not trust their athletic development in the hands of… Read more »

Reply to  Swim4life
3 years ago

Nobody quit. The head coach removed swimmers from the team. The ones that decided to leave on their own did so, because they did not trust their athletic development in the hands of a liar.”

Soooo, didn’t the “ones that decided to leave on their own,” in fact, quit?

3 years ago

What is the point of this article?! The swimmers that are still there have faced continuous struggles and highlighting the low points of the season again seems unnecessary.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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