February 22, 2002

Swimmers Aim for Ivy Crown

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Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. They did it for hours at a time, twice a day, for months and months, years even. All for what?

Starting yesterday, the Ivy Championships are the grand finale for the women’s swimming and diving team. A large group of seniors and some talented underclassmen hit the pool in Cambridge, taking on host Harvard and the other Ivy League schools.

What the team has been focusing on since the beginning has finally arrived. Competition continues through Saturday at Blodgett Pool.

Leading the way for the Red is a talented group of experienced seniors. Senior co-captain Shayne Geneva highlights the squad, competing in the 200 breaststroke. Classmate Virginia Morgan will swim in the breaststroke and mile (1650 freestyle) events. Fellow senior backstrokers Whitney Yates will participate in the 200 back and Kari Tornabene in the 100 back.

“This group has scored points for us before. Shayne already has done a season-best time, and she is swimming better than last year. Gin has scored a lot and Whitney is looking great,” praised head coach Marrie Neumer.

Neumer expects a lot from last year’s MVP, junior Courtney Tawresey. She has been bothered by injuries but this is the meet that counts. She is swimming in the distance free and breaststroke events.

Cornell’s strongest swimmer going into the meet is also the least experienced. Freshman Elissa Kline is seeded in the top-20 in the 100 and 200 freestyle events.

“Elissa looks great right now. She’s been our top scorer this season. If not for catching mono in January, she might be top-five. She swam through it though, and now we expect her to have a huge impact on relays for us too,” Neumer added.

Relays are key in the championship meet, since they score double what individual events score. The Red is placed third in the 200 free relay, the team’s highest seed. The 400 and 800 free relays also should be competitive. Sophomores Megan Gutman and Vanessa Rai are key elements for the relays. Promising freshman Sydney Freas will swim on the relays, as well as in the sprint fly and free events.

The eight-team meet is basically divided into two tiers. At the top are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Brown. In the second tier with Cornell are Columbia, Dartmouth, and Penn.

“We consistently have been sixth or seventh. After losing to Columbia by six points in our dual meet we want to chase them for sixth place,” Neumer strategized.

The meet format is races in the morning, with 45-50 swimmers in each event. The top 16 scores advance, swimming again at night.

Also competing are two rookie divers, sophomore Jessica Hof and freshman Kara Neal. They are both looking to gain experience and exposure in the big-time meet. Cornell’s top diver, Elizabeth Druy, is studying abroad and will not compete.

“Ivy League swimming is very competitive. But we are well prepared mentally and physically, with no injuries. We have a great mix of experience and newness. All I can say is I’m excited.” Neumer exclaimed.

Archived article by Cammy Kandiko