By JEFF ASIEDU
This season, Cornell men’s swimming and diving has a concrete goal: to improve upon its last season and show the Ivy League what Cornell is made of. With previous assistant coach Wes Newman ’09 named as the new head coach of the swimming team, Cornell swimming is looking to make an impact in its conference this year. The Red will be starting its season this Saturday with a meet at the University of Buffalo.
This meet is the opener for the swim and dive squad, but it will be closer to a scrimmage — events will not be individually scored and many swimmers will be swimming events that are not their specialty. When asked about team goals for this meet, Newman said the team is just looking to gage where they are coming into the season.
“The goal this meet is honestly just a really good assessment to see where the team is at. It’s a scrimmage for us… so it’s just a really good opportunity to let the guys race,” he said.
Buffalo will certainly serve as a testing ground for many of the fastest swimmers on Cornell’s team.
“We’ve got obviously some of the big names from last season — we’ve got [sophomore] Alex Evdokimov and [junior] Dylan Sali, we’ve got a couple new guys that have made big changes in the offseason and have really stepped up their game and they’re returning,” said senior captain Taylor Adams. “That would include [junior] Lucas Reisch and [sophomore] Kevin Ma.”
Cornell’s most important competitors in any sport are typically other Ivy League rivals, and last season at the Ivy League Championship Meet, Cornell scored sixth out of the eight schools in the Ancient Eight.
“We had a really successful season last year, considering my freshman and sophomore year we didn’t get a lot of wins in the Ivy League, but last year every meet was close,” Adams said.
Newman explained that the squad is looking towards the Ivy competition with excitement and anticipation.
“We’re definitely looking forward to our first league meet,” he said. “That’s gonna be against Dartmouth and Harvard at home.”
While early meets such as the meet in Buffalo this weekend will be used as benchmarks for the Red, “the ultimate goal is to swim your fastest at the Ivy League Championship, which is in February,” according to Newman.
“Along the way, there are a lot of great meets that we can use as milestones to see where we’re at towards reaching our ultimate goal,” he said.
The swimming and diving team will also be looking to improve upon its standings in the Ivy League this year, and it looks like the team has momentum on its side. Talking about the Red’s annual finishes at the Ivy League championship in recent years, Coach Newman points to last year’s general improvement in the final standings.
“If you’re looking at the past three years, three years ago we were eighth, two years ago we were eighth, last year we jumped up to sixth, so last year was a nice improvement for us,” he said. “I don’t think it’s out of the question to get fifth this year, which would be a great improvement going in the right direction.”
Some of the major performers from last season will surely be back and just as strong in 2015. New to the team last year, Evdokimov made an immediate impact for the Red in the pool, winning both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events at the Ivy League Championship, earning All-Ivy honors. Many members of the senior class will be leaders for the team this year as well; Taylor Adams and his two co-captains Victor Luo and Carl St. John will be providing guidance for a team that some consider the best Red swim team in recent years.
It’s only a matter of time before the Red get to really test their mettle; after the meet in Buffalo this weekend, the team will host Dartmouth and Harvard at home on Saturday, Nov. 13. Coach Newman is optimistic.
“Our team has been doing a good job at training hard and doing what they need to do to reach their goals and I’m excited to see it all play out this season,” he said.