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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Clownley Honks
7 months ago

Serves them right for bowing to corona paranoia

Reply to  Clownley Honks
7 months ago

hope banhammer drops on this

Reply to  samulih
7 months ago

“I dont agree with him so I hopes he gets banned”. Your logic sucks.

X DU Fan
7 months ago

The Du program needs to be investigated by NCAA ,Summit League, Safe Sport Du alumni, Du donors, and any one else who cares about cleaning up this program.This coaching staff and program is not capable of taking care of Hazing unfair treatment and many other big mistakes they made. Ask the coach and Du to go on record and ask for a full investigation of all of the hazing and unfair treatment that they know about.Du needs to take care of all the people they hurt.Du needs to assure all current and future athletes and their families they can run a clean program and are truly looking to win national championships. Don’t take a top 20 swim program and hire… Read more »

7 months ago

Horrible leadership that could not support a team through adversity led to this. The coaching staffs positions with the school should be reevaluated immediately if the schools wants this team to be relevant again. From personal experience, I would warn any perspective recruits to be careful in committing to swim at denver.

Reply to  DuInsider
7 months ago

Having swam for DU under the current head coach and having trained with the associate and assistant, I can assure prospective recruits that this coaching staff produces elite swimmers and cares about their safety and success outside of the pool — which is unique in the college swimming world.

Reply to  DUSwammer
7 months ago

This staff has not produced any swimmers yet. Do not confuse an elite swimmer having trained with them for 1 year as them producing!

Reply to  Swim4life
7 months ago

The current staff has been critical to DU’s success and rise over the past two decades. They’ve developed and trained All-Americans and Olympians, and they’ve fostered the positive growth of numerous student-athletes outside of the pool. The loss of a couple NCAA qualifiers during COVID is unfortunate. But no doubt, this staff will rebuild the program into something even better. It’s disappointing to see recent affiliates and “insiders” of the program place blame on the coaching staff with misogynistic undertones. If that’s reflective of the attitude of the swimmers that recently left the program, then perhaps good riddance…

Team Chlorine
7 months ago

Thank you for running the story. Without an understanding of the larger picture and forces at play, how can the program go forward and return to former level of high achievement?? Right now, it appears to be a terrible situation for former roster, current roster, commits, recruits, athletic department and coaching staff. Or not. So many agendas and interpretations- what is really going on? Is there a vision for the team, or is this just a series of actions and reactions gone wrong? Was the party just an excuse for the coaches to clean house, or did heavy handed punishment lead to regrettable exodus?

7 months ago

Truly an unfortunate situation. Details aside, the loss of all these top scorers, as obvious as it may sound, will set back this program a lot. Because DU isn’t one of the more notable swim schools, it often has to depend on developing its talent and must “bet” on “mid-tier” recruits that may or may not develop into NCAA level swimmers. Having “DU-made” swimmers that are capable at scoring at the NCAA level such as Sanes, Jagers, and Groters leave the program not only costs them points, but more importantly the presence and leadership needed to push a program to the next level – All it takes is a couple fast swimmers to push the team to the next level.

7 months ago

I am wondering — did you contact anyone from the Denver swim program to get a comment from them on what is taking place? It seems this is all speculation.

7 months ago

It’s time to move on! Not sure why we cannot celebrate the fact that even with 10-12 freshmen and sophomore swimmers the men’s team pulled off an incredible score with the majority of swimmers presenting DU in the finals. Create a positive outlook vs continue to trash the program. If you don’t like the current culture or follow specific guidelines you are free to go somewhere else. Maybe write about the success and what these guys had to overcome during COVID. Please move on!!!!

Reply to  Ilse
7 months ago

Exactly the attitude that keeps allowing coaches in general to abuse athletes and university leadership to look the other way as long as the results are there

7 months 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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