November 15, 2011

Swimmers Ready, Set for Ivy Trip

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The men and women’s swimming and diving teams (0-2, 0-2 Ivy League) competed in Cambridge, Mass. over the weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth. Despite having a strong start on the women’s side and good races for the men, both squads were defeated by the Crimson (2-0, 2-0) and Green (1-1, 1-1).

The first half of the meet for the women was competitive as the Red swept the 100 yard backstroke and breaststroke and beat the Green in the 200 medley — featuring seniors Emily Dean, Sadie Ellison and Chiara Spinazzola and junior Jessie Holley. Winning six events total was a highlight of the meet, according to head coach Joe Lucia.

“The problem was we got swept in five events, and there’s nothing you can do much about that,” he said. “It was nothing that our swimmers did wrong. Despite what the situation was, we swam to our potential, the other teams just had more talent.”

Harvard has remained atop the Ivy League for the past several decades for both the men and women, so the Red entered its meet focused on providing tough competition for Dartmouth. The men suffered a disappointing loss to the Green, a team the Red had not lost to in over 35 years; however, Lucia found a few positives in the defeat. Six years ago, Dartmouth attempted to drop its swimming program, a trend brewing throughout the NCAA in recent years.

“As painful as it is to lose, I’m really happy they’ve turned things around and put themselves in a position to save their sport and turn things around to get competitive. I don’t like to lose, but it’s good for them and for the sport that they didn’t get dropped,” Lucia said.

Some highlights on the men’s side for Cornell over the weekend against Dartmouth included freshman Eric May winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke, sophomore Harry Harpham securing the 200 free and taking second in the butterfly, and junior Jon Zollo earning the three-meter dive.

The men and women will now shift their focus toward this weekend’s meet in Philadelphia, Pa. against Penn and Princeton. Princeton is viewed as the stronger opponent on both sides, according to senior Eric Anderson, as the Tigers are similar to Harvard with their recent dominance of the Ivy League. Penn is a different story, however, with the Quakers representing one of the Red’s main rivals, Anderson said.

“This meet always motivates us every year,” he explained. “It’s a long standing huge competition, Penn is a great rival. Princeton has one of the Top-20 teams in the nation, and we always get great racing from them.”

“It’s a great position to be in to come off this past weekend and go against a rival. We’ll be ready for the meet and be competitive,” Lucia added.

The women are also focused on competing against Penn.

“Last weekend Penn didn’t race as well as we expected,” said senior co-captain Sadie Ellison. “We know what we need to improve and what we’re capable of.”

The women also have their sights set on the 200 medley relay against Penn, according to Ellison, who noted that the team did not meet its own expectations in that event last time. Penn puts forth an entirely new relay due to the graduation of all four members from last year’s squad.

Despite the losses on both sides, team morale still appears high.

“It’s just a matter of telling them to keep their heads high, and focus on what’s to come and not what’s behind us,” said senior men’s captain Kevin Brazitis.

Dean also noted that the women’s squad is looking to improve on finishing the second half of the meet strong.

“I feel the team has a good attitude and is working hard to get better and swim fast,” Lucia said, adding that 2011 will serve as a transition year for the women.

The weekend meet at Penn is the last Ivy League competition for the Red until a Jan. 7 trip to New Haven, Conn. against Yale.

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki