March 10, 2013

M. SWIMMING | Strong Individual Performances Lead C.U. at Ivies

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The Cornell men’s swimming and diving team competed this weekend at the Ivy League Championship in Brown’s Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center. The Red finished eighth overall with a total combined score of 539 points.

“In my opinion, Cornell had a great championship meet. Countless members of the team had best times and most people were very satisfied with their performances,” said senior diver James O’Neil, who finished 18th overall in the three-meter dive.

According to O’Neil, the Ivy Championship is an especially difficult meet, considering the teams that are perennially at the top of the conference.

“This meet is particularly hard to do well at,” he said. “Harvard and Princeton monopolize the A finals in every event, leaving minimal spots open for the other teams. It is a fight to make Top-8 in any event, but we fought our hardest in each one of them.”

Knowing that it would be an uphill battle to overtake Harvard or Princeton, O’Neil said the Red had its sights set on beating Brown.

“One of our main goals of the meet was to beat Brown. Day two of championships, we had some great prelim swims with many coming back at night to swim in B finals, as well as Eric May who came back to swim in the A finals,” O’Neil said. “We had a decent lead over Brown during this day, but they had one swimmer who scored 1st place in a couple of events. That set us back a little.”

Though the Red was unable to achieve this goal — finishing just fifty points behind the Bears — the squad did perform well in some individual diving events. Junior Phillip Truong placed third overall in the three-meter dive with 354.65 points, setting a new school record. Jon Zollo and O’Neil also both placed in the Top-20.

“The other two divers and I were very satisfied with how we did on the one-meter and three-meter springboard events,” O’Neil said. “With the point totals from these two events combined, Cornell diving ranked third best out of the other Ivy teams, sitting behind only Harvard and Princeton. Phillip Truong had an outstanding Ivy Championship meet, making A finals in both events and placing third on three-meter and sixth on one-meter. Combined, we contributed 100 points to the team’s score.”

The Red swimmers also recorded some impressive individual performances. Freshman Victor Luo swam under two minutes in both of his 200 breaststroke events, making him only the second Red swimmer to ever achieve this feat. He finished 7th overall in this event and also made the NCAA B-cut in the 100 breastroke.

“Victor Luo qualified for the NCAA B-cut in the 100 breaststroke,” O’Neil said. “Sophomore Eric May and freshman Avery Bub also had strong finishes in this event.”

Junior Taylor Wilson (15th), freshman Mitch Johnson (21st) and freshman Jack Pollack (23rd) all scored points for Cornell in the mile event. Junior Ben Catanese and freshman Ryan Walker also recorded career times in the 200 backstroke, which scored points for the Red.

Freshman Carl St. John, junior Harry Harpham and Catanese also earned team points for the Red in the 200 fly event.

O’Neil especially praised the work of the freshmen swimmers, who performed well in a pressurized atmosphere.

“Two of our breaststrokers, Eric May and Victor Luo, played a huge role at this meet. They were the only two swimmers to place in A finals and they both were major point contributors during the whole meet,” O’Neil said. “[Taylor] Wilson also had a terrific meet, scoring big points in his distance events. [Carl] St. John had a stand-out Ivy Championship performance, showing all the hard work he has put towards swimming this season.”

Though the Red’s overall finish at the meet was not what it had expected, O’Neil said he hopes his team can continue to develop as Ivy League swimming becomes more competitive.

“Despite our record, we are very happy with how this season went. The Ivy League is getting extremely fast,” he said. “Someone who may have gotten first place at championships five years ago would not even make Top-8 this year. We will continue working hard and growing as a team. I am extremely proud to have been a part of this team because we always give our best effort and dedication.”

Original Author: John McGrorty