November 13, 2006

M. Swimming Sweeps Ivy Rivals; Women Fall Twice

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Men’s hockey wasn’t the only team to score a huge down-to-the-wire win over Harvard this weekend.

The men’s swim team took down both Harvard, 167-131, and Dartmouth, 231-62, in Saturday’s double dual meet. Yesterday, however, the women’s team fell to the Crimson, 208-89, and the Green, 182.5-117.5.

[img_assist|nid=19814|title=Butterfly|desc=The men’s swim team dispatched Harvard and Dartmouth on Saturday in the first double dual meet of the season, while the women fell to the same foes. (Alex Teney / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=57]

Men’s head coach Joe Lucia pointed out a small battle won for the Red when facing Harvard.

“We avoided having fish thrown in the pool,” Lucia said. “The new no-tolerance rule was really enforced. We were relieved.”

Lucia was also relieved of another, heavier burden this weekend. The men’s win over Harvard was the Red’s first against the Crimson since the 1985-86 season and the first of Lucia’s 20-year tenure at Cornell as head coach.

“Now I have a 1-19 record against Harvard,” Lucia said. “I’m going to have to coach for a few more years to even that one out.”

If Lucia’s team swims as well in years to come as it did this weekend — earning first-place finishes in 10 of the meet’s 16 events — he should have no trouble.

The Red opened the meet by going 1-2 in the 200 medley relay. The team of sophomore Philip Baity, senior Dave McKechnie, senior co-captain Brad Newman and junior Brad Gorter set a new pool record, coming in first with a time of 1:31.29. They were closely followed by a band of teammates, as sophomore Wes Newman, freshman Nicholas Campbell, sophomore Jackson Wang and senior Mike Balint, as the foursome posted a second-place time of 1:33.85.

McKechnie’s first-place finish of 55.17 in the 100 breast stroke set a new school and pool record. In the 200 breast stroke, McKechnie added four more points for the Red, coming in second with a time of 2:04.49. For the last event of the meet, he also led the 400 free relay with Wes Newman, Gorter and senior co-captain Mike Smit to a new pool record of 3:02.56.

While McKechnie has set his sights on attaining individual glory by qualifying for the NCAA championship meet, for the dual meet season his main focus is doing his part for the team and winning his breaststroke events.

“We came really close to beating Harvard last year,” McKechnie said. “They lost a couple of good guys, and we’ve been getting faster all the time. We rested for a couple of days from hard practice, ate well, slept a lot, and didn’t go out. We swam really well.”

The divers pulled their weight in the meet and then some, going 2-3-5 in the 1-meter competition and 1-2-5 in the 3-meter dive. Sophomore Chris Donohoe took second in both events, while senior Luke Baer won the 3-meter event and placed third in the 1-meter. Freshman Alaric Eby contributed to the Red’s wins by taking fifth in both events.

Smit captured first in both the 200 fly (1:49.28) and the 100 free (45.91), touching out Gorter by just .24 seconds. Co-captains Smit and Newman also went 2-3 in the 100 fly, finishing 50.16 and 50.93. With a time of 20.80, Gorter took first in the 50 free.

Not to be outdone, Baity scored two first-place finishes in the 100 back (51.23) and 200 back (1:51.05). Wes Newman added to the list of the Red’s top finishes in the 200 free, finishing at 1:40.27.

Freshman Max Royster has been developing into a key swimmer for the Red. Royster finished second to Baity in the 200 back (1:54.50), and took third in the 200 fly (1:54.53).

“I was just so pleased with the meet,” Lucia said. “The divers had a great meet; they really came through for us. The guys were so on.”

Although they swam their hardest, the women’s swimmers couldn’t find the same groove that the men did.

The Red’s pair of 200 medley relay teams went 4-5 in the opening event of the meet, but trailed Harvard and Darthmouth from that point on.

The highlight race of the women’s double dual meet came at the very end in the 400 free relay. The team of sophomore Sarah Yan, freshman Jill Berlin, freshman Emily Caras and junior co-captain Leah Tourtellotte captured first place with a time of 3:39.63, touching out the Dartmouth team by .16 seconds.

Tourtellotte had a strong meet, posting times consistent with her great results so far this season. She placed first in the 100 back (58.95) and the 200 IM (2:10.03), while she took third in the 200 back (2:09.71).

Yan also swam well, taking third in the 200 free (1:56.84), fourth in the 50 free (25.19), and fifth in the 100 free (54.84).

Freshmen swimmer Danielle Visco and her classmate, diver Gretchen Schroeder, performed well in the second meet of their careers at Cornell. Visco aearned good times in the 100 and 200 breast and finished third in the 200 IM (2:12.86). Schroeder placed fifth in the 1-meter dive and fourth in the 3-meter, going 4-5 with senior co-captain Caitlin Burrows.

Caras took fifth in the 200 free (1:59.58). Her classmate, distance swimmer Laura Acchione, also finished fourth in the 500 free (5:16.62).

According to senior co-captain Kristin Conway, the scores of this weekend’s
meet don’t speak to how much the Red is improving.

“We’re definitely improving on swimming as a team,” Conway said. “We’re able to keep each other up. We motivate each other well by supporting each other and cheering each other on from the bench or the side of the pool.”

While teamwork and unity are values the women’s team can rely on during competition, the women will practice hard this week and try to improve more technical aspects of their swimming.

“We’re going to focus on things we did wrong this weekend,” Conway said. “Just little things, like flinching on a start and fixing our flip-turns.”