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Season Outlook

Stanford is coming off the heels of another outstanding season last year.

Skip Kenney's squad was a runaway winner at the Pac-10 Championships and recorded its 15th straight top four finish at the NCAA Championships.

Leading the way for Stanford are four swimmers -- Scott Claypool, Sabir Muhammad, Kevin Radvany and Tom Wilkens -- who recorded top five finishes at the NCAA Championships last March. Those four swimmers bring to the pool a combined total of 33 All-American honors.

The following is a stroke-by-stroke look at the Cardinal:

Sprint Free
Junior Scott Claypool leads an experienced group of sprinters. The junior finished fourth in the 100 free and tied for ninth in the 50 free at last year's NCAAs, and was a three-time national champion as a freshman (200 and 400 free relay and 200 medley relay). He enters the season ranked first on the squad in both the 50 and 100 free.

Claypool is joined by senior Scott Jones, sophomore Dod Wales and Muhammad. Jones ranks first on the team in the 200 free, Wales was a two-time All-American as a freshman and Muhammad finished fifth in the 50 free at the NCAAs last year.

Juniors Jed Crowe and Chris Olson, sophomore Justin Ewers and freshman Glenn Counts round out the group.

Distance Free
Senior Kevin Radvany, a three-time All-American, is a favorite to the win the national title in the 1650 free, after finishing second in that event last year. Radvany ranks first on the squad in both the 500 and 1650 free.

Sophomore Matt O'Mara will contend for points at NCAAs, while senior Jonathan Lischke and freshman Steven Neebe are all expected to contend for points at the Pac-10 Championships.

Sophomore Tate Blahnik is coming off an outstanding freshman season in which he finished first at Pac-10s and ninth at NCAAs in the 200 back. He also recorded an impressive second place finish in the 200 meter back at the U.S. Senior Nationals in August.

Muhammad, who was an All-American in the backstroke, butterfly and freestyle, also figures into the equation. He ranks first on the team in the 100 back after winning the 1995-96 Pac-10 title.

NCAA qualifiers Dan Schultz and Matt Thomson will also contend for NCAA points in the backstroke.

Junior Tom Wilkens, who is also one of the top IM swimmers in the nation, finished first in the 200 breast and second in the 100 breast at the U.S. Senior Nationals in August and third at the Olympic Trials in the 200 back. Wilkens, an eight-time All-American, has twice placed in the top 16 in the 200 breast at NCAAs.

Junior Andre Salles-Cunha, the defending Pac-10 champ in the 100 breast is also back. Also expected to contribute in the breaststroke are sophomore Blake Holden and freshman Steve Ronson.

Muhammad, who has recorded the second fastest time in the 100 fly in school history (behind only Pablo Morales), will try to improve on his sixth place finish at last year's NCAAs. He is also a two-time Pac-10 champ in the 100 fly.

Matt Pierce, who qualified for the NCAAs in the 100 and 200 fly, is expected to score well, while big things are also expected from junior Jed Crowe.

Individual Medley
Junior Tom Wilkens continues to write his name into the Stanford record books. The 10-time All-American was a finalist in three events at NCAAs last season and won three events, including the 200 and 400 IM, at the 1996 Senior Nationals in August. Wilkens ranks in Stanford's all-time top 15 in four events, and is already 23rd in school history with 73 career NCAA points.

Tate Blahnik and Matt Thomson both qualified for NCAAs in the IM last year, while Scott Jones and freshman Steve Ronson are also expected to make an impact.

Stanford is expected to just further enhance its reputation as one of the top relay programs in the nation. The Cardinal has posted 15 NCAA relay victories in the past four years, and posted five top six finishes last season.

Muhammad was a four-time All-American in the relays last year (200 and 400 free, 200 and 400 medley), while Claypool and Crowe had a hand in three relays apiece. Crowe also swam the fastest 50 fly split in school history at the NCAA Championships. In all, the Cardinal loses just three swimmers from last year's relay squads.

With the graduation of All-American David Johns, coach Rick Schavone looks to a pair of freshman to pick up the slack.

Prep All-American Mark Michelin and Andrew Harper will both be expected to contribute immediately, and will improve greatly by the time the Pac-10 Championships roll around in March.