November 17, 2008

First Meet Bodes Well For Men’s Swimming

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One thing became evident about the men’s swimming team after its meet at Harvard this past weekend — this team is ready to compete for an Ivy title. After traveling to Cambridge, Mass., to take on Dartmouth and defending Ivy champion Harvard, the Red came up seconds short of beating the defending champions in its own pool. Cornell did defeat Dartmouth, but ultimately could not hold on for the upset over the Crimson.
“We were really close to them in two races,” said senior co-captain Wes Newman, who placed first in both the 100 and 200 free. “If we had won those two, we would have won the meet.”
Despite narrowly losing to Harvard, the Red’s performance over the week served as a huge confidence booster heading into the season.
“It was awesome,” Newman said. “We’ve been really excited to get going this year. We have a great freshman class; there are a bunch of real studs. We were really anxious to get on the road and see what we could do against Harvard. We wanted to see if we could give them a run for their money and that’s exactly what we did.”
“The first one is always tough because there’s an added pressure put on some of the new guys. We just wanted to go out and set the tone for the year and we did just that,” said senior co-captain Phil Baity. “Everybody stepped up big and raced some times that we didn’t quite expect.”
The Red is particularly excited about its strong freshman class. Specifically, newcomer Michael Cai put on an eye-opening performance, his first ever at the collegiate level. Cai placed first in three events, while posting a better time at the 100-meter breaststroke than last year’s defending champion did all of last year.
“Michael [Cai] is an immediate star,” Baity said. “He put up some amazing times after just one meet. All of our freshmen have so much potential for the future. It’s not easy to come in freshmen year and compete at your full potential. There’s a lot of promise in all of them.”
In addition to the freshmen, upperclassmen are stepping into bigger roles previously vacated by teammates who have since graduated.
“[Junior] Sasha Dobrolioubov has made some great strides,” said senior Nick Cochran. “He’s really stepping up as one of our big performers.”
Overall, the team feels poised to compete at a high level throughout the season.
“This past weekend was a great dress rehearsal,” Baity said. “It was a run through. Now we know where we are at and everybody is feeling very confident about that. We made a few changes to how we train this offseason; this meet affirmed that what we’re doing is the right thing. We’re going to keep up the training, work on some different things, and continue to remain confident.”