February 26, 2007

M. Swimming Takes Fifth at EISLs

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The best swimmers from all over the Ivy League converged on Princeton, N.J., this weekend to compete in the men’s EISL championships. Cornell’s team — fresh off its dual-meet title — placed fifth, with many swimmers posting outstanding individual efforts.

The Red started out the meet strong, finishing the first day in third place overall, behind only Harvard and Princeton in total points.

“Overall we had a good meet,” said senior co-captain Mike Smit. “Some guys had really great swims.”
[img_assist|nid=21674|title=Fly like an eagle|desc=The men’s swimming team took fifth at the EISL championships in Princeton, N.J. this weekend, with several Red swimmers setting meet, school and pool records.|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=51]
Smit and sophomore Wes Newman touched the wall at the exact same time in the 500-meter freestyle finals, earning a tie. Their time, 4:24.07, was fast enough to qualify for NCAA B cut times. Two other Cornell simmers also earned B cut times on the first day.

Each year, the NCAA selects a certain number of collegiate swimmers nationwide for its annual championship meet. Some of the swimmers will qualify automatically if their times are fast enough to earn an A cut time. However, B cut time qualifiers may also be chosen to swim in the meet. B cut time swimmers won’t know if they have qualified for a couple of weeks, Smit said.

As compared to other national competitions, the NCAAs attract “a lot of people from other countries,” Smit said. “It really ends up being one of the fastest meets around.”

Cornell also took the 200 and 400-meter relays on the first day of competition, setting meet, pool and school records in the 400 medley, and a school record and NCAA B cut time in the 200-meter freestyle.

Cornell continued to swim well on Friday, and was still ranked third in points at the end of the weekend contests.

Friday saw two more pool records fall to Red swimmers, with Newman and Smit swimming 1-2 in the 200-meter freestyle prelims, with Newman less than one second behind Smit. Senior Dave McKechnie also had a good day, earning a NCAA B cut time as well as a new meet record in the 200 breaststroke.

All three Red divers advanced, with sophomore Chris Donohoe and senior Luke Baer qualifying for the B level finals, and freshman Alaric Denby scheduled to compete in the C finals.

The third and final day saw Cornell slip to fifth place overall, while still continuing to achieve outstanding results individually.

Smit ended his Cornell career by earning the EISLs Career High Point award, given to the graduating swimmer with the most total points earned over the course of his collegiate championship career.

McKechnie continued his dominance in the 200-meter breaststroke, with a first-place time of 2:00.18, more than one second quicker than the second place finisher from Columbia, and fast enough to qualify for an NCAA B cut time.

Smit, junior Brad Gorter, and sophomores Newman and Kevin Carrey finished 0.58 seconds behind Harvard in the B finals of the 400-meter freestyle relay, the final race of the meet.

In the diving finals, Baer and Donohoe went 1-2 on the 3-meter board, and Denby also scored.

This was dive coach Rick Gilbert’s last meet at Cornell as he will be retiring after 39 years of coaching.

“I was very pleased with how [the dive team] did in the consolation finals,” Gilbert said. “Luke [Baer] dived as well as he’s ever done in his college career.”

Gilbert said before the meet that the other coaches took him out to dinner and had a small going-away ceremony for him.

“It was a nice little send off,” Gilbert said.

A certain bitter-sweetness was a common sentiment, it seemed, as the seniors on the team reflected on what was the end of their Cornell careers, with the exception of NCAA selections.

Smit said that he’d like to continue swimming after Cornell, and is aiming for the Olympic Trials in 2008. But even though this will not be his last swim meet, it will be the end of an era.

“It’s a lot of time that you put into it,” Smit said. “I’m definitely going to miss it. The team has been great, the coaches are great. It’s going to be a little sad to leave it.”