March 13, 2007

All-Ivy Accolades Top Off M. Swimming Year

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On Feb. 27, the Ivy League announced this season’s All-Ivy honorees, and 9-of-21 nominations went to the Red, which finished its team season Feb. 24 after completing a perfect 10-0 dual meet season and being crowned EISL dual meet league champions.

“I just think the team performed all year at a high level and had a special season,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “They were swimming with a lot of confidence and kept it rolling right through our [EISL] championship meet.”

The top finisher in each individual event and the top team in each relay event earn first team All-Ivy accolades, which were awarded to six Red swimmers. Second team All-Ivy nominations are determined by the second-place finishers at the EISL championship meet.

Earning first-team honors in the individual events for the Red were senior co-captain Mike Smit, his classmate Dave McKechnie and sophomore Wes Newman.

Smit placed first in the 200 free with a time of 1:35.52, while Newman followed in a close second (1:36.18) and in the process made the All-Ivy second team for the event. Smit also captured the win in the 200 fly (1:46.44), but the shock of the meet came when he and Newman tied for first place in the 500 free with a time of 4:24.07.

“It was kind of hard to believe at first,” Newman said. “It’s more common to tie in the shorter races when less time has gone by. In longer races it’s unusual, and to tie for first with your teammate is especially rare. I remember looking up at the scoreboard and saw the 1 next to Mike’s name, but then I looked at mine and saw the 1, too, and I was just in awe.”

“There’s no record of two guys ever swimming in an event and tying for first in league history, back to the 1930s,” Lucia said. “Mike and Wes swim together and challenge each other in practice; they swam next to each other in the preliminary round, and they were next to each other again in the finals. They’re constantly competing. I hadn’t laughed as hard as I did when I saw their identical score as I had in a long time.”

McKechnie garnered first-team honors by reclaiming his titles in the 100 breast (53.94) and the 200 breast (2:00.18); both of these performances broke the existing Cornell records, while McKechnie’s time in the 100 breast even broke the EISL meet record.

The Red’s four relay squads that earned gold at the EISL meet also earned first-team accolades. Smit, McKechnie and Newman were joined by junior Brad Gorter to win the 200-free relay with a time of 1:19.64, as well as the 800-free relay. The foursome of sophomore Phil Baity, McKechnie, Smit and Newman also took first in the 400 medley relay (3:13.61), while Baity, McKechnie, Gorter and sophomore Jackson Wang placed first in the 200 medley relay (1:29.11), setting a new school record in both events.

“It’s unbelievable when you consider that before last year, the men’s team had never won a relay at the EISL meet,” Newman said. “Last year we won two, and this year we took 4-of-5.”

The Red’s second-team All-Ivy achievements include Baity’s nods for his third-place finishes in the 200 back (1:45.85) and 100 back (48.75).

“Phil really stepped up in both backstroke events,” Lucia said. “His performance in the 200 back was one of the most surprising and fantastic swims of the meet.”

The 400 free relay team of Newman, sophomore Kevin Carey, Gorter, and Smit also took a second-team bid for its second-place finish of 2:57.81 just behind Harvard’s relay squad.

Senior co-captain Brad Newman and freshman Colin Laren also had fantastic swims at the EISL meet. Newman placed fifth in the 100 fly (49.13) after making the first final of his career, while Laren took eighth in the event (50.11). Sophomores Nick Cochran, Carey, Chris Donohoe, and diving senior Luke Baer earned key points for the Red in the competition.

“Apart from the All-Ivy teams, most guys did well in at least one event, and that’s a great way to cap off the season,” Brad Newman said. “The All-Ivy selection is a great showing for our team. In the past maybe five guys were All-Ivy, but this year we won more events than any other team. It just speaks volumes for the team as a whole, as well as the program and the coaching.”

At the championships alone the Red broke eight pool records and two EISL meet records. Throughout the dual-meet season, the men also shattered 10 of the 21 existing Teagle pool records.

To top things off, Smit, McKechnie, and Wes Newman have been selected to compete this Thursday in the NCAA championship meet, the fastest and most selective college meet in America.

“The team basically met every one of its goals and did what it wanted to do,” Newman said. “That’s pretty impressive considering everyone swam so fast all year. You’d think maybe we’d have been tired, but that energy carried over into the championships, and hopefully to NCAAs.”