November 7, 2006

Brothers Tearing Up Lanes at Teagle for M. Swimming

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All teammates enjoy a special bond. But swimmers Brad and Wes share much more than a sport or even a stroke — they are the men’s swimming and diving team’s only brother duo and together they’re making some big waves at Cornell.

Senior co-captain Brad and sophomore Wes Newman began their swimming careers in their hometown of Montreal, Quebec. Younger brother, Wes, actually was the first to compete, after his parents signed him up for a winter swim program at the age of five.

“We have a summer house close to the lake,” Wes said, “and all I wanted to was be in the water all of the time.”

Wes, however, admits that swimming was not exactly a big deal growing up.
[img_assist|nid=19665|title=In the fast lane|desc=The men’s swimming and diving team is off to a fast start this year after last weekend’s 170-125 dual meet win over Brown. (Deborah Chang / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=right|width=100|height=54]
“Hockey is pretty much the No. 1 sport,” he said.

So the brothers bypassed their high school team in favor of a youth swimming club in order to seek out the best possible competition.

While with their team, Dollards-des-Ormeaux, the brothers had the opportunity to compete all over the world, including a meet in Paris.

“We’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to travel,” Wes said.

Wes was also a member of Canada’s Provincial team, as well as its Junior National team.

The decision to swim for Cornell was never an easy one, for either brother.

“I wasn’t even looking to go to school in the states,” Brad said. “I was either going to continue swimming for the club, or go to a school near my home.”

But after visiting his cousin, a player on the men’s hockey team, Brad was hooked.

“I came down and met with [head coach Joe] Lucia. After I saw the campus, and met Lucia, I realized there was a whole other world out there,” Brad said. “I would not change my decision.”

When the Newman family would come down to visit Brad, Wes got to meet the coach and some of his brother’s friends from the team. After seeing how happy his brother seemed, Wes decided to give Cornell a try as well.

Lucia said this is the first pair of brothers he has had on the team in a long time.

“It’s kind of unusual, and it’s been very fun,” Lucia said. “I feel very fortunate to have these two guys on the team. They are class individuals who really represent their team and their school well.”

And represent they have. Both Brad and Wes have made their marks on Cornell’s swimming program.

Brad has posted all-time top-10 performances in five different events, including second all-time in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:29.70. And although Wes is only a sophomore, he already holds three all-time records, in the 400 freestyle relay, the 800 freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay.

Although the two have been training and competing with and against each other for the better part of their lives, both say the competition has always been friendly.

“I asked them a lot if [them being on the same team] would create any tension,” Lucia said. “To be honest, I think it helps. They handle it in a very fun way.”

“We push each other,” Brad said. “It’s great to have him around. It’s something familiar, a little piece of home. It’s great to have friends, but he’s my brother. He’s my family. I don’t really know how to explain it.”

In their first competition of the regular season, a 170-125 victory over Brown Saturday, both brothers swam very well. Wes won the 1000 freestyle with a new personal best of 9:35.20, as well as the 100 fly, also with a new personal best of 50.77 seconds.

Brad was a member of the winning 200 medley team, and also placed third and fifth in the 100 back and 200 back, respectively.

“They were instrumental in how we did,” Lucia said.

Both brothers will have to be competing at the top of their games again this weekend when Cornell hosts rivals Harvard and Dartmouth on Saturday.