March 8, 2004

Men's Swimming Uses Late Surge to Place Fifth

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The men’s swimming and diving team finished the season in fifth place in the EISL standings, posting a 5-4 record in conference. It was the first time the team had finished higher than seventh since 1998. After heading to Princeton for the EISL championships this weekend, the team has yet another fifth place finish to boast about.

The Red compiled 675 points at the championships, good enough for it best finish since 1995. Its point total was also the highest in the history of Cornell swimming. Princeton won the meet, edging out Harvard 1423-1338.

“I think everyone was pretty excited and happy with the end of the year,” said senior co-captain Jeremy Sample. “We have a lot of meets during the year but we always train with the main focus being the championships. We completed a lot of the season’s goals this weekend that we are really proud of.”

The Red entered the final day of competition at the championships with a mere two-point lead over Brown and a small margin over Navy. Without a strong finish, the Red was in jeopardy of dropping to seventh. Yet, the team ended up 15.5 points ahead of Navy and 35 ahead of Brown.

“We are real happy,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “Getting the fifth spot was really tight between us, Brown, and Navy and it was a really fun weekend. The truly great thing is that they hung in there. It’s a three-day meet and everyone faces a little adversity and they hung really tough. I am so proud of the guys.”

Since the beginning of the season, the Red has had the goal in mind of placing higher at the championships. Last year, the team finished seventh, achieving the previous school record 635 points. The Red absolutely blew that performance out of the water this weekend.

“Everybody on the team contributed,” said Lucia. “Almost everyone on the team swam their best times. Overall, it was a really strong performance. The word on the back of the shirt at the championships was unity and the team really exemplified it. They stayed united the whole way and it resulted in a lot of good things.”

Although the whole team truly did contribute, many of the Cornell swimmers put forth unbelievable individual performances with ten swimmers making it to the finals, many of them setting all-time records.

Sophomore Stefano Caprara set the school record in the 200-yard individual medley as well as the 200 backstroke. Also, three of the Cornell relay teams set school records, including the 200 and 400-yard medley teams and the 400-yard free relay. The freestyle team broke a record, which had stood for thirteen years.

But, the most impressive Red performer this weekend was freshman Mike Smit. Smit won the 500-yard freestyle and also finished third in the 1000 free, losing by less than one second. His 1000 free time set a school record by a whopping six seconds. He also came back the same day and swam the 200-yard freestyle, setting a school record in the prelims.

Six other swimmers also set all-time top five school records including junior Danny Diette in the 200 free, senior co-captain Danny Royce and freshman Dave McKechnie in the 200 breaststroke, and senior Rob Payne in the 200 butterfly.

Sample is thrilled with the team’s effort and feels that the program has a bright future ahead of it.

“The team has a great base,” said Sample. “We will be losing some scorers, but the team is definitely moving in the right direction. We have added more and more points at the championships every year and the team is definitely heading up.”


Archived article by Bryan Pepper