With the fall portion of the Cornell women’s swimming and diving season coming to an end this week at Ithaca College, the Red is looking past its current record of 1-3.
The last three meets, all against Ivy League opponents, have been sound defeats for Cornell, but that has not shaken the team’s spirit. Instead, they continue to have their sights set on rising through the ranks of their conference to improve upon their seventh place finish at last year’s championship meet.
Three weeks ago, Cornell swam in Cambridge, winning against a new opponent in MIT, but losing to Harvard the next day. Right before Thanksgiving break was a tri-meet, this time held in Philadelphia against Penn and Princeton, and the Red lost both meets.
“We came in with the mindset that we wanted to make ourselves known,” said sophomore swimmer Sarah Baturka. “We weren’t necessarily expecting to win, but we did want to … place ourselves in some of the events.”
Head coach Patrick Gallagher echoed these sentiments and emphasized the forward-thinking outlook of the team as a whole, in spite of some early-season struggles.
“The swimming and diving schedule is kind of unique because those individual conference dual meets are really high-intensity and offer good opportunities, and, you know, they’re tough dual meets, but our focus is our championship meet. … We’ve got some good teams on the horizon that we’ll have to race, and we’ll try and push them race to race, but certainly the focus remains on the end of the year at championships.”
Looking more specifically at the Penn-Princeton meet, the disappointment of a third-place finish for the team was alleviated in part by some strong performances by individual members of the team.
“The scores and the results of each dual meet were probably what we expected,” Gallagher said about the overall scores of each meet: 222-78 against Penn and 233-67 against Princeton.
“Princeton’s always one of the best teams in the league, and Penn certainly has been really strong the last couple years … We knew it would be a tough team result, but that being said, I think the women competed really well,” Gallagher said.
Junior swimmer Helen Hsu stood out as the top overall individual finisher. By the end of the meet, she had two third places finishes under her belt, one each in the 100-meter back and the 50-meter free. She, along with freshman Sophia Cherkez, sophomore Laurel Kiselis and sophomore Baturka, claimed a second place finish for the 400-meter free relay.
Cherkez had several high-placing races, specifically the 1000-meter free, along with fellow freshman Annaklara Doel, and the 500-meter free. Baturka also had a top five finish in the 100 breast and 100 free. Other top five finishers included senior Tessa Wilson in the 100 back and freshman Maegan Rudolph in the 100 and 200 fly’s.
This upcoming weekend, the Red will stay close to home at the Bomber Invitational hosted by Ithaca College. Senior diver and captain Victoria Chan was excited about the prospect of being able to develop the team and see where everyone stands after another week of practice in the books.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of devastating performances [last meet] of girls that we expected to perform at a certain level and they totally just let us down,” she said, “that was totally not the case. I think that we kind of did anticipate not being at the top of every heat which is okay, but … this weekend will be a good measure of people’s best times in their best events.”
After swimming and diving at Ithaca College Friday through Sunday, the Red will break for over a month before its next meet on Jan. 9.