Senior Ilya Evdokimov cemented his status as the Ivy League’s best breast stroker, winning his fourth straight title as the Red finished in sixth place in the Ivy Championships.
Evdokimov came into the meet having won the breaststroke title in each of the last three years, and left Princeton as only the 11th swimmer in conference history to win four consecutive titles.
He smashed the pool record by 3.68 seconds, and broke the Cornell record by 1.28 seconds. The top breaststroker in the Ivy League and ranked third nationally, Evdokimov will compete in the NCAA national meet in March.
“It’s great to be done with that part. It’s a lot of pressure taken off of me,” Evdokimov said of his final Ivy meet. “I’m excited for [nationals]. It’s an exciting meet because it’s at a much bigger stage and it’s something that all of the top swimmers in the country get to go to.”
Cornell ended the first day of the four-day meet, held at Princeton, in fourth place after a second-place finish in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:26.
Also on day one, the Red placed seventh in the 800 meter freestyle relay, good for the fourth-fastest time in Cornell program history.
Head coach Wes Newman ’09 said getting his swimmers mentally prepared for a long meet was important heading into the long weekend.
“Because it’s a championship meet, we do approach it differently in terms of our training,” Newman said. “We give our guys more rest — we call it ‘tapering’ — so they’re all tapered down and ready to go essentially their fastest times of the year.”
Other top performers at championships included sophomore Ryan Brown in the 200 meter breaststroke, earning himself 11th overall as the fourth Cornellian to swim the event in under two minutes. Senior Brandon Sweezer finished 16th in the mile and sophomore Matt Daniel finished 21st, recording the 10th-fastest time for the event in Cornell history.
Owen Downs was one of a few standout freshmen at the meet, winning the C final for the 200 breast and the B final for the 400 individual medley. Classmate Van Cates placed eighth overall in the A final for the 200 back and recorded the fourth-best time in school history. Min Zhi Chua earned an NCAA B cut in the 200 IM, earning 20th place in the event overall. He finished 13th in both the B finals for the 400 IM and the 200 fly.
“We had a few of the freshmen really step up and get best times, and that’s always exciting to know that they adjusted well to the program, adjusted well to life at Cornell,” Newman said.
With seven seniors on the roster this season, the Red will lose a big chunk of its team to graduation, but the team doesn’t seem too concerned with the change in team dynamics.
“We have one of the largest classes of seniors within the last several years, so it’s definitely going to be a big impact, but, at the same time, there’s also a lot of new people coming in next year, so I think it’s going to kind of balance out,” Evdokimov said.
Newman said he was pleased with the team finishing similarly to how it did last season.
“One of the teams that we beat last year was Brown, and Brown was not at the meet this year,” Newman said. “So in reality, it’s almost like a similar finish, even though it looks like we went down a spot.”
The Bears were barred from participation due to an investigation into team conduct and allegations of hazing.
With the Ivy season over, all eyes are on the NCAA national meet, which will take place March 21-24 in Minneapolis.