Coming off the Thanksgiving break, the men’s and women’s swimming teams head to South Hill this weekend to compete in a new three-day meet. The Ithaca College Bomber Invitational is a non-conference event, but it will help the teams get used to the format used at the Ivy League championships in March.
“This weekend should really help our team out here in the middle of the season,” said senior Julian Chan. “It mirrors the Ivy League championships format, so come March we will know what to expect.”
Chan and the men’s squad (0-4) have gotten off to a slow start in the 2011-12 season; however, there have been a few bright spots. Freshman Eric May’s wins in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke against Dartmouth, and senior Jake Sangren’s triumph in the 100-yard backstroke against Penn have brought the Red confidence as it heads into Winter Break.
“We have been working harder and we are expecting better results in the New Year,” Chan said. “We definitely have to race harder and try to win those close races.”
Head coach Joe Lucia is excited to play at the tournament and new facility at Ithaca College this weekend.
“Both teams want to go in and have a shot at winning the event,” Lucia said. “We are excited to see the new facility and participate in the new event. It is a great chance to be able to compete locally.”
The recently completed Athletics and Events Center at Ithaca includes a 47,000 square-foot aquatics pavilion with a nine-lane Olympic-size pool and diving area, as well as about 950 spectator seats. The facility also has a field house for teams to practice, an outdoor stadium with turf field and an outdoor tennis complex with six regulation-size courts. After two years of construction, the facility opened this fall.
Aside from the excitement of swimming in a new pool, senior captain Chiara Spinazzola of the women’s team (0-4) hopes the team will also race well.
“We just want to race everyone that is there and win as many races as possible,” Spinazzola said. “We really want to try to do well this weekend.”
Spinazzola pointed to the Red’s new training system implemented by the coaches employed this year when asked to explain the team’s performance early.
“It has definitely been hard training,” Spinazzola said. “We have not been really rested for our meets this year. This week we are semi-resting and our times should improve as compared to other weeks.”
This year, the training schedule has separated the swimmers into two groups — sprint and distance — with the men and women swimming together. The squads go through a rigorous schedule during the week, swimming nearly every day.
Lucia and Spinazzola dubbed junior swimmer Jessie Holley the most impressive Red’s women swimmer so far this season. Holley won multiple races in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and helped the 200-yard medley relay team finish first against Dartmouth.
“I think we have a pretty competitive squad,” Lucia said. “[Our] strength is definitely the breaststroke and backstroke races. The women are really gunning for this upcoming event.”
Lucia added that he did not see any glaring weaknesses on the men’s side, but was quick to point out that the swimmers still have a lot of work to do.
“We are disappointed,” Lucia added. “But, we have a lot of hope and there is still a lot to swim for the rest of the season.”
This weekend’s meet at Ithaca will be the Red’s last of 2011, with the team returning to action on Jan. 7 against Yale. Cornell also faces Colgate, Colombia and Brown to finish off the regular season before the Ivy League championships take place in March at Princeton.
Original Author: Scott Eckl