A strong season will come to an end for the men’s swimming and diving team after this wekeend, but not before one last competition. The Red (8-2, 6-2 EISL) will head off to Long Island, N.Y., for the season-ending EISL championships, to be held from March 2-4.
“I couldn’t be more happy with the team. They have been preparing well mentally and physically, especially mentally,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “They went into the big meets, and swam tough and hard. That gives you confidence going into the championships, and the coaching staff, including myself, is very confident in our guy’s abilities.”
The Red will send 17 swimmers and three divers to the meet. Last year, the Red placed fifth with 820 points in the competition. Lucia knows the Red will be hard-pressed to match last year’s breakout performance.
“Last year was our best championship meet ever, we had the most team points, no relay finished below third, and we set a lot of school records,” Lucia said. “Just for us to maintain fifth place, we will have to have that kind of meet again. We would like to make the top-4, but we can’t control what other teams do. We’ve got to control our own destiny, and just swim as fast as we can. In a meet like this, you can’t worry about what other teams do.”
In the past, depth has been an issue in this tournament for the Red. Whereas in normal meets, a small group of standout swimmers can carry a team, placing well at the EISL championships requires depth all the way through the roster.
“All 17 guys have to be on. Where we got hurt last year, was after our top 10, our next seven guys didn’t step up,” Lucia said. “Teams like Harvard and Princeton are solid all the way through.”
“No one is going in with low expectations – everyone wants to help the team out and do their best,” said junior Dave McKechnie.
Indeed, Harvard and Princeton were the only two teams to beat the Red this season. Cornell lost to Harvard by a tally of 162.5-137.5 back on Nov.12, while the Red also fell to the Tigers 164-79 on Nov. 18.
However, since the loss to Princeton, Cornell has been flawless, reeling off seven consecutive victories.
Senior Stefano Caprara, juniors Mike Smit and McKechnie, sophomore Brad Gorter and freshman Wes Newman will lead the Red in action this week.
“Those are our five big guns, and they have been huge for us all season long,” Lucia said. “[Junior] Brad Newman did so well this entire season, [senior] Jared Levan should give us some good swims. We are looking for a lot of points from every guy.”
On the diving boards, the Red will turn to senior Joe Weiss, junior Luke Baer and freshman Chris Donohoe.
“Our divers, I think, have improved from last year, and we should be strong in that area,” Lucia said.
After putting forth solid efforts all season, the Red knows it can swim with the best. Even still, the depth of Harvard and Princeton may be too much to overcome.
“We are looking to improve our team placement, maybe overtake Yale and come in fourth. We have a good shot at winning gold in two or three relays,” McKechnie said.
Archived article by Jeremy Drucker
Sun Staff Writer