March 9, 2009

M. Swimming Makes History at Championships

Print More

The men’s swimming and diving team wrote history this past weekend at Ivy League Championships, finishing third against its Ancient Eight rivals and breaking 13 school records in the process. The Red is typically better suited to the dual meet season, reaching its peak two years ago, going undefeated in the Ivy League. The team’s third place finish at championships is the best ever for Cornell men’s swimming.
Senior captains Wes Newman, who broke seven school records at the meet, and Phil Baity, who won the Ivy title in the 200 back, lead a smaller, more elite, set of swimmers to Princeton for their last championship meet. The team was deeper this year, producing berths in event finals up and down the roster. This depth contributed heavily to the Red’s third place finish.[img_assist|nid=35922|title=Eyes up|desc=Senior Wes Newman broke seven Cornell records and qualified for NCAAs over the weekend at Ivy League Championships in Princeton, N.J. The Red finished third in the Ancient Eight, its best-ever finish in a championship meet, scoring 1095 points.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I think the real difference between this meet and championships of past is how good guys 9 through 17 have been,” Baity said. “From the top to the bottom, guys were qualifying for finals and producing points.”
Baity was the first to strike gold, in the second event of the night, winning his backstroke final. In his championship swim, Baity also snuck under the NCAA B qualifying time.
“We took this meet one session at a time, trying to really focus on the events ahead,” Newman said. “We were trying to make sure we could qualify lots of guys in the morning session so that we’d be a presence in the night.”
Newman provided to be the record breaker at championships, taking half of the records that were broken at this meet. Newman put marks on this championship meet, showing dominance in the 200 fly and the 400 m free relay where the Red qualified in NCAA B time and broke the Cornell record by .3 seconds.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better curtain call to my swimming career,” Baity said.
Newman, a Canadian national, will head home to compete in Canadian Nationals next week. Newman is riding a high after a strong finish to the dual meet season and a very strong showing at Championships.
Relays were huge for Cornell. The Red placed high in the 200 m free, 400 m free, 800 m free, 400 m medley and 200 m medley. The Red’s success at breaking the top three in these events allowed them to keep a close follow on Harvard and Princeton who led the meet from the start.
Freshmen and sophomores were making inroads to the top of the podium at championships like never before. Freshman Michael Cai finished third in the 200 m breast stroke to two other freshmen. The Ivy League as a whole is getting faster and younger, with each new recruiting class undercutting the past.
“I definitely see the difference year over year for this team, this league and leagues all across the country are seeing faster kids and times falling.” Newman said.
This was the first meet that swimmers used the famed Speedo LZR (Laser Racer) Suit™. Every team at the meet was in these fast, buoyant and slick suits, which saw records dropping left and right.
“You are definitely at a disadvantage if you aren’t wearing this thing, since everyone else is, and it really is making times that much faster.” Newman said.
Princeton finished on top of the leader board with the Crimson and Red close behind. The three teams broke away from the pack, passing the 1000-point barrier. As the Red move forward towards NCAAs and next year, the bar continues to be raised.
“Last year, Michael Cai’s time would have been good enough to win the 200 m breast stroke by a second, this year he got third, that’s telling.” Newman said.