Cornell swimming and diving opens its season at Dartmouth this weekend with a double dual meet against Dartmouth and Harvard.
The men’s team finished with a 7-2 dual meet record last season, and is looking to continue at that high level of competition.
“It’s been great,” said senior captain Dean Holcomb. “This year we have been training a lot harder than any of the years I have been here to try and raise the bar. We had a great season last year, so our goal this year is to match that or better.”
Harvard and Princeton are known to dominate the Ivy League in swimming, and the last time the Red defeated Harvard was 2007. But with the effort the team has put forth so far this season it has every chance of changing that.
“If we have a great meet and Harvard is a little off, we have a shot,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “It’s a very competitive, fast swimming league. We haven’t lost to Dartmouth in a long time, but they are improved and we’re not taking them lightly in any way.”
“For the first time in a while it should be more realistic to win against Harvard,” added senior captain Jake Fisher. “This year we brought in a great freshman class, so they have been keeping the upperclassmen competitive. There is a low tolerance for unmotivated individuals, everyone is on the same page and has set the bar high. There is not a lot of room for [mediocrity].”
The men’s side has several key returners this year in seniors Chris Keady and Mike Sheppard in addition to the squad’s two senior captains. Expectations for the freshman class, which includes divers Phillip Truong and Taylor Wilson, are also high.
“There is a lot of leadership throughout the ranks of the team,” Fisher said. “Two years ago we got third at the Ivy Championships, and that is definitely a minimum for us this year.”
The women finished the 2009-10 season with a 3-6 dual meet record, but have every intention of ending with a winning record this year.
“Dartmouth has been a bit of a rival, and we are expecting a very close meet with the Dartmouth women,” Lucia said.
“Preseason has been really good,” said senior captain Christina DiMaria. “We started off early and have been building since then. None of these meets are set in stone, so we have to be on our game and deliver every time we get out there.”
DiMaria also offered a few thoughts on the team’s Ivy dual meet prospects.
“Penn is right above us in the rankings, so we’re looking to give them a run for their money, and Columbia and Brown we would really like to have a good meet against. We’re on the same level with all of these teams,” she said.
“We have some good individuals on the women’s side,” Lucia said.
In addition to DiMaria, seniors co-captain Meg Farrington and Juliann Rienecker, the team welcomes back several essential pieces including juniors Chiara Spinazzola and Emily Dean.
“The freshmen are a pretty solid group,” Lucia said. “I have a lot of confidence that they’ll be able to provide a lot of depth and coverage for us.”
“We have been training extremely hard, our confidence is up, and we are excited,” DiMaria said. “Everyone is ready to give it their all.”
On the diving side there is also a lot of excitement for this coming weekend.
“We got started earlier, and more motivated sooner,” said diving coach Veronica Ribot-Canales. “I expect some strong competition on both sides for men and women, but we’re looking to continue the trend of putting athletes in the finals at the Ivy Championships.”
“This has been a very competitive team, and there is a lot of respect in the league. Teams know we will come out and compete,” Lucia said.
Original Author: Rebecca Velez