November 17, 2000

Seniors Lead Talented Group of Swimmers

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As the mercury begins to drop lower and lower (and lower), there is one thing on the minds of 27 brave men: the Teagle Hall swimming pool. In other words, Cornell men’s swimming and diving kicks back into action, and the Red is ready to make run at the top teams.

The men’s strength is nested in their returning seniors. The senior class this year is the strongest and most experienced in recent history. It includes top middle distance freestyler tri-captain Matt Harting, the number-one sprint freestyler and anchor of the record-holding 200-yard medley relay team, tri-captain Christian Sweetser.

Juniors Eric Gonzales and John Kenny, Cornell’s leading scorers at Easterns last year, are back, along with classmate and tri-captain Ryan Buckman, who turned in the second fastest time in Cornell history last year in the 100 backstroke (51:14).

Perhaps the biggest story coming out of the Teagle Hall pool this year is that of Jeremy Sample ’03, who returns to the water this Saturday after missing all of second semester last year while battling cancer.

“He has been an inspiration to us all, and has been in our prayers every day since we found out. He will be swimming on Saturday and should make a really positive impact,” head coach Joe Lucia said.

The leader of the Big Red swimmers is Lucia, who has coached the swimming program since 1987. Lucia joined Cornell after 11 years in the Cortland public school system. He has been awarded for his many successes with the Red. He was named coach of the Year at the women’s Easterns in 1992 and again in 1994.

The freshman class this year is poised to make a major impact this year, not only as alternates, but as starters as well. Led by backstroking freshmen Mike McWay and Aaron Raitiere, the newcomers are strong compliments in many different events, including middle and sprint freestyle and the individual medley.

“We will have three freshman in the IM. All of them have a very focused attitude; they should really help us out,” Lucia said.

There is also a new face on the deck of the Teagle Hall swimming pool. Steve McGrath joins the Red as an assistant swimming and diving coach after two seasons as head coach at Rhodes College.

A big part of the Cornell’s swimming and diving team are the divers, who make a significant contribution to the Red’s overall score in every meet. This year, the men have been working hard to get ready for the season.

This marks the 32 season that coach Rick Gilbert will lead the Red divers in to action. As a 1965 graduate of Indiana University, Rick won five Big Ten diving titles, along with the NCAA 1-meter championship in 1964.

The strength of the divers comes from the team’s senior Jon Cebulski. Cebulski missed making then Ivy championships by just 3 points last year.

The other diver, sophomore Tim Lenz, makes his return to the water on Saturday after dislocating his toe in training last year. “He is performing well. He is a great kid with a good attitude, and I am optimistic that he will have a very strong season,” Gilbert said.

Last year, the Red placed seventh overall at the Eastern Championships, with a record of 5-6 overall and 3-6 in the EISL.

Cornell will be faced with many tough challenges throughout this season, but hopes are high that it will be very competitive giving the top teams a run for their money.

The Red’s first meet is a double-duel against Pennsylvania and Princeton at Teagle,tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. (after the football game and before the men’s hockey game). “We are the underdogs on paper, but we are going in ready to win,” Lucia said.

Archived article by Josh Vlasto