March 26, 2007

Swimmers Perform Well At NCAA Championships

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Men’s swim team seniors Dave McKechnie and co-captain Mike Smit closed out their illustrious collegiate careers, while sophomore Wes Newman fulfilled a personal goal with a bright two years remaining for him with the Red, as the trio competed March 15-17 at the NCAA Swimming and Diving National championships at the University of Minnesota.

“Just getting to the NCAA championship is a huge accomplishment in swimming,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “This year, a swimmer had to be top-21 in his event just to make it. It was the fastest NCAA meet in history, and something like 10 meet records were broken. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”

[img_assist|nid=22247|title=Camouflaged.|desc=Senior co-captain Mike Smit was one of three Red swimmers to compete at the NCAA championships, finishing 21st in both the 200 free and 200 fly events.|link=node|align=left|width=74|height=100]

Newman was the first of the three swimmers to compete, making his NCAA debut in the 500 free on March 15. He placed 39th with a time of 4:26.67, beating three higher-seeded swimmers in the process. At the EISL championship meet, Newman posted his personal record in the event with a time of 4:24.07 and tying Smit for first place.

“The fact that we can keep improving the number of guys we have there is really great, especially with Wes being a sophomore and [sophomore] Phil [Baity] coming so close,” McKechnie said. “Mike, Stefano [Caprara ’06], and I all made it as juniors or seniors, so Wes is a step ahead of us. It kind of sets the groundwork for the next two years at least.”

Newman swam his second event of the NCAA championships, the 200 free, on the second day of the meet alongside Smit. Newman placed 33rd in the event with a time of 1:37.73, while Smit took 21st (1:36.17), missing the consolation finals by half a second and falling just short of his season-best time of 1:35.52.

Smit’s best event of the meet was the 200 fly, in which he finished with a time of 1:46.59, good enough for 21st place. In the process, Smit beat two swimmers seeded higher than himself in his last race for the Red.

McKechnie raced in the 100 breast with a time of 54.49 that earned him 30th place, but he swam even better in the 200 breast. A two-time EISL champion in both events, McKechnie placed 26th in the 200 breast (2:00.37) and beat five higher-seeded swimmers.

“That was my final swim of my Cornell career, and I knew I wasn’t going to make the top-16,” McKechnie said. “I would have had to take a huge chunk out of my time. It was sort of a victory meet, and it was a lot of fun.”

“The guys competed hard and had a great time,” Lucia said. “When you get into the environment where the top-12 to -15 teams are there with over 10 guys, you feel a little left out of the meet. We got together with the other Ivy guys and tried to make it more like we weren’t there on our own little island. There’s so much energy around those top teams, but we were there as individuals. The guys competed the best they could.”