November 16, 2001

'Championship Focus'

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The men’s swimming and diving team is focused — very focused. Before the season has even started, it is looking to the end.

Everything is directed towards the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the championship. It’s something a lot of people outside of swimming don’t understand — we prepare for a long time to swim really fast at the end of the year. Our dual meets are important, but our focus as a team is to have improvement at the championship meet,” noted head coach Joe Lucia.

It is not an easy thing to do in the Ivy League. Competing against the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown makes for a tough season.

It’s hard for some to understand the importance of individual times, not the final score, against the powerhouse teams.

The team sat down together and came up with specific goals for the season, to help them focus and keep the end in sight.

“The team has established pretty high goals. We feel that we are a better team than we were last year in most areas; most of the guys feel we can do better than we did last year. We actually swam pretty well last year, but we think we can make some improvements,” said Lucia.

The goal is in mind, but should be tough for senior John Kenny, who had a breakout season last year.

Kenny has dominated the distance free events along with classmate co-captain Eric Gonzalez. Those two plus senior Ryan Buckham and junior Forrest Kennedy return as the top four point scorers from last season.

Buckham takes on the backstroke events, while Kennedy looks to improve on his tremendous season last year in the butterfly events.

“One of our goals is that every guy who scored points last year has to score more points this year. That was a team goal,” Lucia noted.

The Red has other key swimmers coming back and ready to improve. Eight other members scored points at the championships last season.

“We returned Danny Royce, who was out with an injury last season. Bill Dillon is swimming very well. Charlie Ernst [who returns after being sidelined last season] is looking real good. And Rob Payne, a sophomore, is looking very solid, along with classmate John Dyste. Those guys that are returning are looking a lot better than they did last year.

“One of the things that is good about our team this year is that we have good balance. Our distance has always been pretty good. I think our 200 freestyle is going to be much improved this year. Our strengths are that we should be good in the distance, the 200 fly, the 200 back. We have more depth than we did last year. We are stronger and we don’t have any glaring weaknesses,” the head coach continued.

The team also brought in a large class of freshmen to help with the squad’s depth. Twelve swimmers and two divers are joining the Red.

The two freshmen divers join junior Tim Lenz on the boards, who hopes to provide leadership for the incoming rookies. Also new to the team is assistant coach Robin Dyer.

Lucia has pieced together an impressive record in his 14 year tenure on East Hill guiding the men to the top half of the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League. This is the fourth season that he has focused solely on the men.

“We aim our whole program towards the end. I’m not discounting the dual meets, but all of our training and the way we practice is geared towards the end. I don’t think it matters much how many meets we have. We open with our rival Penn, which should get us pretty jacked up. Then we can come back and train for the whole bulk of our dual meet season.

“We are going to go for Penn, in our opening meet with them and Princeton. Last year they tore us apart in our pool, but we came back and beat them at the end. I thought it was a good sign about what our team is made of — how much better we swam at the end of the year. We want to swim them tougher. We have a championship focus,” finished Lucia.

Archived article by Cammy Kandiko