November 9, 2007

W. Swimming Aims to Improve

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The women’s swimming team is optimistic as it returns to the water this weekend after a disappointing past season. Having finished eighth at the Ivy League championship meet last February, it can only look upwards.
“Our primary goal is to improve the number of points we score at Ivies,” said woman’s coach John Holohan.
The team gained 12 new freshmen this year who are already expected to be an influential and crucial part of the team.
Among the newcomers are stand-out freshmen Laura DeCesare, Meg Farrington, Lyla Youssef and Ana Goya Arce, who was a national team qualifier in her home country Mexico.
“They’re all going to make an immediate contribution,” Holohan said.
The team had two divers walk-on this year, rounding out the number of girls on the diving team to four. The team also gained a new diving coach this season following the retirement of Rich Gilbert.
Four-time Olympian Veronica Ribot-Canales will replace Gilbert and coach the divers this year. Canales has had the divers practicing dives of a higher difficulty and has them doing aggressive dry-land training which has already started to pay off.
The meets this weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth, both held in Hanover, N.H., will mark the first time the freshmen compete at a collegiate level.
“This is going to be trial by fire for them. College meets are very different from anything they’ve been exposed to,” Holohan said.
To prepare them for the faster pace meets and swimming multiple events with short breaks, the coaches have been running mock meets as well as making them put in more effort than they’ll need to put out in an actual meet.
The team has also been working on perfecting its technique and turns in the pre-season in an effort to cut down race times.
While the freshmen will have a huge impact on the team’s performance this year, the team will rely heavily on strong returning swimmers such as senior Leah Tourtellotte, who has been a leading scorer on the team all four years. A strong core of sophomore and junior swimmers will round out the team and provide leadership in and out of the water.
While the team hasn’t named any student captains, six of the members on the team collectively make up a leadership committee. Holohan identified many types of leaders on the team, mentioning that a variety of different girls lead in the pool, in the locker room and socially.
The team this year is also very cohesive and supportive of each other.
At a team meeting recently, the girls gave each other permission to be critical of each other and their personal goals during practices.
“That gives them permission to come into the locker room and say ‘You said your goal was to take eight kicks underwater before you took a breath; you only took four,’” Holohan said. “They’re holding each other to a higher standard. They’re holding each other to become the best they can.”
Majority of the Red’s competition stems from the Ancient Eight but the team will also face competition from Colgate, Navy and Bing­hamton.