March 6, 2006

Smit Swims Team To Fourth at EISLs

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A tremendous season for the men’s swimming and diving team has come and gone. Wrapping up the campaign at the EISL championships in Long Island, N.Y., over the weekend, the Red (8-2, 6-2 EISL) placed fourth in a field of nine teams. Led by junior Mike Smit’s three individual victories, the Red improved one place from last year’s competition.

“We feel great. We exceeded our expectations and achieved all our goals we set out at the beginning of the year,” said senior co-captain Stefano Caprara. “It was a little heartbreaking to fall to fourth, but we were competitive with the other teams, and that’s all we can ask for.”

After holding third place for most of the competition, the Red finally lost its ground to Columbia. The Lions – who hosted the event – edged the Red by six points, 990.5 to 984.5. Princeton finished first with 1,393 points, followed by Harvard’s 1,287 points.

“The facilities [Princeton, Harvard and Columbia] have and their recruiting tools are that much better, and high school swimmers are really drawn to their programs,” Caprara said. “They are in a league of their own, and they will stay there for a while. It was almost given that they would come in first and second. And, usually there is an assumption that Yale and Columbia would place third and fourth, but we got in the way of that.”

Despite not winning a single event, Princeton was able to take home the title on the strength of a solid, all-around team performance. The Tigers’ depth allowed them to dominate the competition, as they led from wire-to-wire. Yale finished fifth, followed by Navy, Brown, Penn and Dartmouth.

On the first day of competition, Smit and freshman Wesley Newman got the Red off to a hot start, finishing 1-2 in the 500-yard freestyle. Cornell finished third behind strong Harvard and Princeton sides in the 200-yard relay, an extremely close and competitive race. Sophomore Brad Gorter placed fourth in the 50-yard freestyle. After the first day, the Red sat in third place with 292 points.

Smit kept the Red rolling on the second day, picking up another victory the 200-yard freestyle. Smit dominated the event, finishing first in the preliminary round as well. Newman finished third in the event. Junior Dave McKechnie took home first place in the 100-yard breaststroke to give the Red a second day-two victory. The 200-yard medley team finished in second place behind a strong Harvard side, while Caprara provided the Red with two top-10 finishes, placing fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and third in the 100-yard backstroke. Freshman Chris Donohoe recorded a fourth place finish in the 3-meter dive. All told, the Red remained in third place after day two with 691.5 points.

Smit completed the trifecta on day three, taking first in the 200-yard butterfly.

“He was definitely the star of the team and really pulled through. He got about 100 points for us, and just had a huge meet,” Caprara said.

Caprara continued his excellent performance, finishing second in the 200-yard backstroke, while freshman Philip Baity placed sixth. McKechnie put forth another solid swim, finishing third in the 200-yard breaststroke. For the third consecutive day, a Cornell relay finished second to a Harvard group, this time in the 400-yard freestyle. Cornell, however, could not hold off Columbia, who passed Cornell to finish in third, behind powerhouses Princeton and Harvard.

With his performance in the 200-free, Smit automatically qualifies for the NCAA Nationals, while Caprara has a good chance of getting there in the 100-yard backstroke.

Archived article by Jeremy Drucker
Sun Staff Writer