November 11, 2005

Swimming Squads Commence Seasons

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It will be difficult to improve on a season in which it set 13 school records, but that is exactly what the men’s swimming and diving team will be looking to accomplish this year. The Red begins its quest tomorrow in Cambridge, Mass., in a dual meet against Harvard and Dartmouth.

“This will be an interesting competition,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “We’re going up against the EISL champs [Harvard] and the worst team in the league [Dartmouth]. I see us finishing somewhere in the middle.”

The team is filled with solid upperclassman leadership, especially from senior co-captain Stefano Caprara, who qualified for the NCAA championships last year. He was the first Cornell swimmer to qualify in the 19 years that Lucia has been at the helm of the program.

“I think swimming is the hardest sport to qualify for individually in all college sports,” Lucia said. “It’s the fastest 23 guys in the country. I was so excited to go there. I walked around with a smile on my face for three whole days.”

The team is also happy to bring back junior Dave McKechnie, who won the league championship in both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke. Another huge component of the squad will be junior Mike Smit, who led the team in individual points at last year’s EISL championships. In addition to the swimmers, the Red divers should be much improved this season, with the additions of senior Joe Weiss, junior Luke Baer, and freshman Chris Donohoe.

The three are all expected to help the Red assert itself as a major diving presence in the EISL.

Baer is returning to the roster after taking a year off for personal reasons.

“Luke is a quality diver. We missed him, but it was a good decision for him personally,” Lucia said. “He knew the door would always be open if he wanted to come back. We’re really happy to have him back on the team this year.”

The women’s swimming and diving team is coming off a season in which it finished seventh in the Ivy League – meaning there is plenty of room for improvement. The squad will begin its season tomorrow on the road in a dual match against Harvard and Dartmouth.

“Dartmouth is our big rival,” said junior Kristen Conway. “If we all come ready to swim, then we’ll be fine.”

Conway has a very positive outlook for the season. She knows that determination will be the key to success in the lanes this year.

“The team really looks excellent,” Conway said. “Everyone was working really hard over the summer for their different club teams at home. We never stop swimming.”

One of the big changes that the Red made in the offseason was the addition of assistant coach Gail Meakins.

“She brings a lot of knowledge to the pool. It’s really good to have an assistant coach who knows a lot about the sport,” Conway said.

Senior co-captain Ashleigh Walker is just as excited to start the season, especially against the Green.

“It’s always a close meet with Dartmouth,” Walker said. “Swimming against them first pumps us up and gets us ready for the rest of the season.”

While the team’s focus remains squarely on the Green, Harvard is not out of their minds by any stretch. The Red knows that the defending Ivy League champs are going to be a formidable opponent.

“We might just surprise Harvard,” Burrows said. “We’ve been working really hard and especially after that Cornell/Syracuse basketball game this week, you never know what can happen on any given day.”

Archived article by Lance Polivy
Sun Staff Writer