November 6, 2006

Red Splits in Pool With Bears

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The men’s swimming and diving team dove off the starting block this weekend in Providence, R.I., winning the first six events in its 170-125 win against Brown. The women’s team kicked its way to several individual wins and personal best times, but couldn’t pull out the team victory against a strong Brown squad, falling 191-104.
With a time of 1:32.54, sophomore Phil Baity, senior Dave McKechnie, senior co-captain Brad Newman and junior Brad Gorter earned the team’s first 11 points by winning the 200-medley relay, a race which head coach Joe Lucia saw as an indication of good things to come.

“Winning the medley relay was really important,” Lucia said. “It took the wind out of the Brown’s sails early in the meet and then we had control. Overall it was a good performance and a good opener. It made it a fun afternoon.”

Sophomore Wes Newman kept Cornell’s lead going with a first-place finish (9:35.20) in the 1,000 freestyle event, finishing more than 16 seconds faster than Brown’s Peter Volosin. Newman’s speed didn’t let him down in the 100 fly, which he won with a time of 50.77.

The next three events were swept by the Red, including wins by co-captain Mike Smit in the 200 free (1:40.45), Baity in the 100 backstroke (51.91), and McKechnie in the 100 breaststroke (57.80). Baity also won the 200 backstroke (1:54.86), and Smit captured the 500 free with a time of 4:45.48.

Lucia singled out the 200 butterfly as one of the highlight performances of the meet. Freshman Max Royster and sophomore Nick Cochran went 2-3, finishing in 1:55.36 and 1:55.84, respectively; Royster was .10 seconds away from touching the wall first.

Gorter outraced Brown’s Brian Kelly in both of his first-place finishes, first in the 50 free (20.97) and later in the 100 free (47.02). Senior Luke Baer and sophomore Chris Donohoe went 1-2 in the 3-meter dive, posting scores of 290.50 and 283.43.

Lucia was particularly pleased with the depth displayed by his team within each race.

“In a dual meet where the scoring awards 9-4-3-2-1 points for finishers one through five, if you have four or five really good guys, you can hang in a meet and be competitive,” Lucia said. “You can win a lot of events, take a lot of points, and set the tone. Those nine points for a first are huge. Our opening run got us in a good frame of mind for the rest of the meet. I was just really pleased with the way the guys approached the meet, being ready to swim well so early in the season.”

“It was really important that we got out to a good start,” Smit said. “We won the first six races, and there was no looking back after that.”

Although the women’s team was defeated, 194-101, by the Bears, head coach John Holohan was happy with the women’s individual results and with the competitive spirit shown by his rookies.

“Against Brown, the freshmen were introduced to collegiate swimming,” Holohan said. “I remember my first meet as coach here; the meet tempo was much faster than I was used to. The rest each swimmer gets between events is very short, and most freshmen are usually a bit in shock at the tempo. Our freshmen definitely got their welcome to Ivy League swimming this weekend. Overall, they did an excellent job of dealing with the stress of their first college meet.”

Junior co-captain Leah Tourtellotte led the pack with two first place finishes and a second place finish in the 100 backstroke, earning 22 of the Red’s 104 points. Tourtellotte won the 100 free (54.23) and the 200 IM (2:12.96), but she credits the Red’s teamwork for its success against Brown.

“The best thing we did was we actually swam as a team,” Tourtellotte said. “I don’t think there was any one swim that was amazing. We wanted to keep Brown under 200 points and we did that.”

Sophomore Sara Yan also had an outstanding meet, her best as a Cornellian. Yan finished second in the 200 free with a time of 1:56.81, touching the wall just .21 behind her opponent. Yan took third in the 50 free (25.52) and anchored both the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay.

Sophomore Mary Cirella made a return to full strength after a leg injury last season, finishing third in the 200 breaststroke (2:33.29) and fourth in the 200 IM (2:22.79).

The freshman class showed both strength and numbers against the Bears. Laura Acchione demonstrated grit in swimming four tough events: the 200 free, the 200 fly, the 100 fly, and the 400 free relay. Distance freestylists Emily Caras and Heidi Judd went 2-3 in the 500 free (5:26.76 and 5:29.67). The duo also went 3-4 in the 1000 free (11:08.93 and 11:18.38).

Freshman J.C. Sheppard split a solid 26.9 for her 50 fly leg in the medley relay, the race in which her classmate Danielle Visco swam a lifetime-best 31.89 split in the breaststroke leg. Sheppard and junior Nicole Tariverdian hit the wall .37 seconds apart, going 2-3 in the 100 fly. Holohan also noted that freshman divers Gretchen Schroeder and Jennifer Park competed well against a strong core of Brown divers.

Tourtellotte was happy with the Red’s performance against Brown, but she’s looking forward to the double dual meet next weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.

“One of the weak points of the Brown meet was that we never really got up and excited for it,” Tourtellotte said. “We’re really competitive with Dartmouth, our biggest rivals. We’re really close on paper, so every race will be really good. Just knowing that will help us get motivated. We’ll be really fighting for it.”