November 19, 2004

Swimmers Focus on Team Improvement

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While some Olympic swimmers spent the fall months facing judicial inquiries, the men and women of the Cornell swim team were busy preparing for another tough league season. After successful finishes in their championship meets in 2003-04, the Red’s swim teams are looking to improve on last year’s records and league standings in the upcoming season. “We’re looking for a winning season overall,” said men’s head coach Joe Lucia.

And with Cornell’s victory over Dartmouth in its first meet, the men’s team appears well on its way. The men finished with a 7-4 overall record last season, going 5-4 against EISL teams.

A big change that could influence the men’s record is the loss of Army on the schedule.

“We are facing more challenges this year,” said junior tri-captain Stefano Caprara. “Without Army, it will be pretty hard to get the same record, but it is a good possibility if everyone does their own part.”

The Red will have six returning seniors to help set the pace for the season. Tri-captain Danny Diette returns as the team’s top 200-yard freestyler. Doug Ernst will be a key to the team’s medley relay. Tri-captain Paul Teta, breaststroker James Parrish and divers Tony Schultz and Andrew Wolf will also have the chance to act as leaders on the team.

“The seniors need to perform in order for us to win,” Lucia said. “They are critical for leadership on the team.”

Caprara will lead the junior class. Holding three individual school records, Caprara provides much needed speed in the backstroke and the individual medley. Jared Levan and Rich Logar will add depth to the freestylers.

Sophomore standout Mike Smit, last season’s co-MVP, looks to build upon an impressive first year. Eight other sophomores will round out the class, including the team’s fastest breaststroker, Dave McKechnie.

With the largest freshman class in a number of years, 14 new faces will be pushing for spots in the lineup and on the relay teams.

“The freshman class has a lot of life and a good attitude,” Lucia said. “They are adjusting well to the new coaching and philosophy.”

After a successful championship meet but a 0-7 record in the league last season, the women’s team is looking to reverse that trend this season. Already, the team has won its opening meet against Dartmouth.

“We are already working well together,” said women’s head coach John Holohan. “I am pleased with the fact that they really function as a team.”

This season, the Red will be lead by five senior captains — swimmers Meredith Blackman, Stephanie Kusko, Alyson Melin and divers Kara Neal and Lisa Ranzenhofer.

Junior Jessica Brookman, who set a record in the 100-yard fly last season, should continue to provide good performances. Classmate Holly Chance will be a key to the team’s relays. Also in the junior class is one of the squad’s top butterflyers, Ashley Johnson.

Kristen Conway will lead the sophomore class after recording the team’s top time in the 500-yard freestyle last season.

Freshman star Leah Tourtellotte, joined by three other rookies, has already greatly contributed to the women’s team by anchoring the 400-yard freestyle relay. Tourtellotte has found success in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events as well.

In order to see an improvement in the Ivy League record, the women will have work consistently through the entire season.

In functioning as a team, the women have already helped each other out.

“When one player didn’t do so well, another picked up the slack,” Holohan said. “We [already] have a really good team effort.”

Archived article by Kristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer