Because Cornell requires a swim test, it should come as no surprise to many readers that it was hot and humid at Teagle Pool on Tuesday afternoon. Cornell women’s swim and dive head coach Patrick Gallagher was working with one of his swimmers, freshman Jordan Silbert, fly/IM, before practice when I arrived. Walking up and down the length of the pool made for an unusual interview.
“What’s the team mindset?”
“What’s the team mindset, Jordan?” Gallagher joked, “Are you more worried about the meet or finals?”
Gallagher clarified he was only half kidding. With finals coming up, it is an awkward time in the semester to have a swim meet. Cornell women’s swim and dive (2-3, 1-3 Ivy) is set to compete in the Bomber Invitational hosted by cross-town Ithaca College this Friday through Sunday.
“We’re fortunate [the meet] is close,” he said.
The Bomber Invitational is a non-conference event for the Red. LaSalle will be the only other Division I school at the meet, with the rest of the competition being made up of regional Division 2 and Division III colleges. As a DI program, Cornell is likely to place near the top of the leaderboard.
“I don’t think any of the teams will be able to compete with our depth,” Gallagher said.“We usually win most of the events,” said senior tri-captain Jennifer Zhang. “We’re not focused on points, but on individual swims.”
Gallagher said heagrees the emphasis is on individual performance in a nonconference event.
“Expectations are high for some fast swims,” he said.
Zhang pointed out that aside from the Ivy championships, the Bomber Invitational is the only meet of the year that the Red will come into with rest. Being in top form after an entire semester of training and being rested lend themselves to the real potential for personal records.
“As a team, we’ve been training really hard and have been meeting goal times at practice,” Zhang said.
“I hope to cap off the first semester with a bunch of lifetime-best swims,” Gallagher said.
Looking forward into the New Year, Gallagher said he believes the Red can use the Bomber Invitational to improve for league competition.
“It helps us prepare for Ivy Championships,” he said.
Senior tri-captain Jenna Immormino said she believes mixed team results against Ivy competition the last couple of weeks will have no bearing on the weekend to come.
“We were facing tough competition,” she said. “Our times have been even faster than last year. I think we have a good mindset.”
Maintaining that positive mindset during a meet is important. To lean on the insight of the late Yogi Berra, [swimming] is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. Immormino believes she has a sideline role to play in helping her teammates perform the best they can.
“As a captain, it’s important to pay attention to every single swimmer,” she said. “[I offer] all around support, trying to keep the morale high.”
Indeed, Gallagher believes that a successful weekend will be a motivator for the season’s 2016 leg.
“I expect come Monday, the team to be excited [for the rest of the season],” he said.
Immormino is impressed by her teammates’ character, and said she believes in their ability to perform this weekend.
“I’m really confident in our girls,” she said. “Out of the pool attitude is really great. I’m excited.”