After experiencing success against Brown in previous matches, the Cornell men’s swimming and diving team may have left Ithaca with an air of confidence, but the Red was not able to follow through on Saturday. At the Bears’ home pool, Cornell lost with an overall match score of 103 to Brown’s 197.
The loss drops Cornell to a discouraging 2-6 overall record and 1-6 in the Ivy League.
“Swimming is a pretty objective sport and, going into it, I think we did reach our expectations,” said head coach Wes Newman. “What we weren’t planning on was [that] Brown really did have a phenomenal meet; they swam significantly faster than they have swam so far this year, so you really gotta hand it to them for stepping up their senior meet at home.”
Going into the meet, Newman stated that it was essential for the Red to begin on the right foot and claim as many first place finishes as possible. According to junior Alex Evdikimov, Brown managed to pull away before this was possible for the men.
“They just started out really well and gained momentum in the first half of the meet,” Evdikimov said. “That was kind of hard — we got better as the meet went on, but it was hard to catch up from the losses made during the first half of it.”
Even with Brown swimming faster than the team expected, the Red pulled out some strong race wins. Two of these came in the 100 and 200 meter breast from Evdikimov, who is also the two-time reigning Ivy League champion in those events and will be looking to defend his title for a third straight time at the Ivy League championships later this month.
Additional notable performances came from freshman Matt Daniel in both the 500 free and 1,000 free, junior Vincent Declerq in the the 200 fly and 200 IM, and freshman Ryan Brown in the 200 breast.
Cornell is treating the weekend’s meet as a stepping stone to success at the Ivy League championships.
“This meet was kind of the one to see where we’re at, kind of what we need to do going forward into the championship meets,” Edikimov said. “We’re just going to work on going in the meet prepared from the very start, and having team energy and trying to maintain it through a three-day meet.”
Plans for the next month involve resting, as well as a process called tapering, where athletes in endurance sports reduce their exercise before important competitions.
“Up until this point in the season, we’ve been working very hard in the pool, working hard in the weight room and guys are kind of tired and broken down a little bit,” Newman said. “What we need to do between now and then is back off a little bit for training. And with rest, they’ll get more energy, and that’s where you’ll see them swim their best.”
Despite concluding its dual meet season with a losing record, the Red hope to surprise the competition at championships.
Newman detailed how he expects the team to pull through with enough wins to be ranked in the middle of the Ivy League.
“I think a realistic goal for us is to beat Dartmouth, beat Brown, and I feel like if we’re really on our game we can challenge Columbia,” Newman said. “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to beat Dartmouth and Brown at championships this year if our team steps up and has a good meet.”
The Red is scheduled to swim at Harvard for the three-day Ivy League championships, from Feb. 23 to 25 in Cambridge.