Cornell men’s swimming and diving enters the 2016-2017 season with a unified goal in mind: to improve its dual meet record and ultimately rise in the Ivy League. The team aims to build on the success of last year’s season with the addition of new faces and the improvement of old.
Head coach Wes Newman expects his three captains, senior David Zurmuhl, senior Luke Reisch and junior Jack Brenneman, to “continue a strong tradition of leaders on the team.”
Their leadership will be especially important in guiding the team’s ten freshmen, a talented group with the potential to fill the gaps in the lineup left by last year’s seniors.
“Freshman year is always a big adjustment in college, and balancing that with athletics can be a challenge,” Newman said. “I know that if this class balances both its athletic and academic responsibilities well this season, they will make an immediate positive impact on our program.”
Some significant gaps the freshmen look to fill include those left by alumni Victor Luo and Taylor Adams, who specialized in breaststroke and sprint events, respectively, and helped the team to its fifth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships in 2016, which was the team’s best finish since 2009.
“…For championships our goal is to get at least one place higher than last year,” Zurmuhl said. “Last year at Ivy’s we edged out Columbia to take 5th, which was the highest we’ve placed in several years. I think it would be awesome if we could place 4th or better this year.”
Newman has high expectations for many of his returning upperclassmen in implementing the growth the team needs in order to move up in the League, including junior Alex Evdokimov, the team’s top returning scorer from last year’s Championship meet. Evdokimov won conference titles in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke for the second year in a row in 2016.
Newman’s expectations are right where they should be, as a number of the team’s upperclassmen had excellent seasons last year. Reisch overcame soldier surgery to become the team’s top butterflier, which helped with relays immensely, and Brenneman dropped a lot of time in his 50 m freestyle and placed 3rd in the league to break the Red’s oldest swimming record.
“Last year we had a number of upperclassman who had breakthrough seasons,” Newman said. “[Evdokimov, Reisch, and Brenneman], among others, will certainly help lead the team to more exciting results.”
The new additions of head diving coach Christian Torres — the former head coach at Canisius College — and assistant coach Jordan Lieberman add to the excitement of the upcoming season.
This weekend the team will compete in its season-opener, a tri-meet with Dartmouth and Harvard in Hanover. Last year the tri-meet was held at home in Ithaca at Cornell’s Teagle Pool, where the team defeated Dartmouth but fell to Harvard. Doing well this weekend will be the perfect springboard for its season goal of improving its dual meet record and standing at Ivy’s.
“We’re hoping to improve on both our dual meet record and our standing at Ivy’s,” Reisch said. “It will definitely be difficult, but we still have a couple of the fastest guys in the league, so anything is possible.”
The team travels to Hanover, N.H. to compete at Karl Michael Pool at 4 p.m. Saturday.