March 6, 2008

M. Swim and Dive Goes for Final Push

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It’s the weekend of competition the Cornell men’s swimming team has been waiting for all season. After two weeks of rest and reflection, the team heads to Cambridge, Mass. today for the three-day EISL Championship meet, which is hosted at Harvard this year. Heading into Ivies with a .500 season record, the Red (5-5) finds itself positioned in the middle of the competition.
Having walked away with a fifth place win last year, the Red is looking to beat three teams this weekend and hopes to finish in at least sixth place.
[img_assist|nid=28588|title=If I just breathe|desc=Unable to depend on individual performances alone, men’s swim and dive embarks on the ESIL Championships today in Cambridge, Mass.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“One of the main things we’re trying to do is beat three particular teams — Penn, Brown and Dartmouth — and hopefully challenge someone else,” said head coach Joe Lucia.
The Red has beaten two of those three teams so far this season with large-margin wins over Penn and Dartmouth in Nov. The Red is also optimistic about beating Brown this weekend if they perform hard. Although the team understands that it doesn’t quite have the same firepower going into the meet as it had last year, Cornell’s goals are still the same: compete hard and post personal best times.
“No. 1 is every guy doing lifetime best times and doing the best they’ve ever swam; that’s the No. 1 goal,” Lucia said. “No. 2 is performing well on relays and having our relays do well at the meet. No. 3 is just keeping a great team attitude and team toughness for three days because there are six sessions of swimming and it’s a long meet.”
With three days of swimming and 21 events, the competition is expected to be well-balanced between the nine members of the league, with a high level of competition for each event. However, having performed well in the relay events all season, the Red is particularly looking to score crucial points in those events.
The strong performances of junior Phil Baity and seniors Wes Newman and Brad Gorter — all top swimmers and tri-captains — have carried the team during the dual meet season, along with divers junior Chris Donohoe and freshman Chris Sheppard. However, the different scoring system of the championship makes it so that the entire team will play a critical role in the Red’s success.
“We have to have a great team meet to do well. Your top guys can’t carry you,” Lucia said. “Everyone knows how important they are and how each place can mean a lot to the team.”
Whereas in dual meets the scoring goes 9-4-3-2-1, the championship meet is more about depth, with the top-24 swimmers scoring in each event. The Red will focus on making it into the consolations and finals rounds of events to score big points, which will require them to place in the top-16 and top-8.
The Red is ready for the challenge.
“I think they’ve trained very well right from Sept. 1 onward,” Lucia said. “I have no doubt in my mind that they’re going to swim fast.”