KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's swimming team has been picked to win the Landmark Conference crown for the fifth consecutive season, according to the conference pre-season poll by the league's head coaches.
After four championships in as many years, the Mariners were the consensus top choice for a third successive pre-season poll, finishing with 60 points, 10 points clear of the second-place team.
Susquehanna University earned that honor with 50 points, followed by The University of Scranton (46) Catholic University (39).
Coached by Sean Tedesco, the Mariners bring back another strong roster. They have won the past three conference titles by at least 125 points with 20 returning swimmers. All-American John Fields returns with six All-conference swimmers back, though the team lost a four-time NCAA champion diver in the graduated Nicholas Halbach.
Tedesco said he was "humbled by the coaches voting as pre-season No. 1, especially with the high level of competition the Landmark brings each year."
"We've been fortunate to have won the last four championship because every year it gets tougher due to other schools improving at a fast rate," he added. "We will continue to work as hard as in the past and we'll continue to be as best as we can."
Marywood University, which joins the Landmark as an affiliate this year, was fifth in the balloting with 23 points, followed by No. 6 Goucher College (21) and seventh-place Drew University (13).
The Landmark season has kicked off already for the majority of the conference teams, with the rest beginning competition within the next month. The Landmark Conference championships will be held at Marywood in Scranton, Pa. Feb. 10-12.