Jan. 10, 2009
ITHACA, N.Y. - The Bulldog men's swimming and diving team resumed Ivy League competition on Saturday against the Big Red of Cornell and the Midshipmen of Navy. Both teams offered extremely tough competition and emerged ahead of the Bulldog squad in the final standings. Despite the losses, the Bulldogs turned in a number of impressive performances, including a new pool record, in the team's only second Ivy League meet of the year.
Including the diving events that occurred on Friday evening, the Bulldogs won three of the 16 events that were contested. Senior captain Alex Righi, who has already achieved an NCAA cut in three events, won each of his three individual events for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs fell to Cornell 221-79 while Navy beat the Elis 202-98.
The team started off competition on Saturday with a strong, second-place performance in the 200-yard individual medley relay. The team of Righi, senior Matt Sweitzer, freshman Goksu Bicer and senior Chris Pool swam to a time of 1:31.69, just over one-half of a second off the pool record. Cornell won the event in a time of 1:31.14, breaking the pool record by one-hundredth of a second.
The Bulldogs next competed in the 1000-yard freestyle event, where they were led by the sixth-place finish of Dennen McCloskey in a time of 9:50.81. Other Bulldogs in the top-10 in the event included seniors Ilya Byzov in eighth (9:53.98) and Paolo Benvenuto in tenth (9:58.80) . Sophomore Erik Hunter of Navy swam a great race to win by more than 20 seconds and set a new pool record of 9:09.95.
The team again picked up a top finish of sixth in the 200-yard freestyle event. Bicer led the Bulldogs in a time of 1:42.81. He was joined in the top-10 by fellow Bulldog sophomore Lugar Choi in ninth (1:44.44). The event was won in a new pool record time of 1:37.53 by Cornell senior Wes Newman, who finished in the top-six in two events at the Canadian Olympic Trials.
The first win of the day for the Bulldogs came by Righi in the 100-yard backstroke. Righi, who has already achieved an NCAA B cut in the event, set a new pool record in the event with a time of 48.87. Sophomore Jason Choi finished ninth in the event (53.41) while junior Thomas Robinson was 10th (53.64).
Next up for the Bulldogs was the 100-yard breaststroke, an event in which they were led by Sweitzer's fifth-place finish (59.33). He was joined in the top-10 by Bulldog teammates freshman Christopher Luu in seventh (1:00.04) and junior Craig Steen in ninth (1:00.04).
Freshman Scott Shinton led the Bulldogs in the 200-yard butterfly event, finishing seventh in 1:53.58. Pool was 10th in 1:55.64.
Righi again stood atop the podium in the 50-yard freestyle event. Righi, who placed second in the event at the NCAA Championships last year, finished the race in 20.58, four-tenths of a second ahead of the next closest swimmer. Sophomore Kyle Veatch also placed in the top-10 for the Bulldogs, finishing 10th in 21.92.
In the next event, the 100-yard freestyle, Righi again came out on top in 44.78, finishing one-tenth of a second ahead of the next nearest competitor. Lugar Choi placed 10th in the event for the Bulldogs in a time of 48.07.
McCloskey led the Bulldogs in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing fifth in a time of 1:53.77. Two other Bulldogs, Jason Choi and Robinson rounded out the top-10, finishing ninth (1:59.72) and 10th (2:00.23), respectively. The event was won by Cornell's Olympic Trials qualifier Phil Baity in a time of 1:48.97.
Senior Kyle McElory picked up a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke event to lead the Bulldogs in a time of 2:10.55. Steen was 10th in 2:11.93. Navy's Adam Meyer, who was named the Mid-Major Swimmer of the Week earlier in the season, smashed the pool record by over five seconds to finish in 1:57.26.
Three Bulldog athletes finished in the top-ten in the 500-yard freestyle event. Byzov led the Bulldogs in eighth (4:49.20) and was followed by senior Sebastian Cousins in ninth (4:53.88) and sophomore Jerold Lee (4:54.27). Navy's Erik Hunter set his second pool record of the day in winning in 4:27.30.
Pool, the current Yale record holder in both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events showed impressive form in the 100-yard butterfly event. Pool finished second in 49.53, less than one-half second from the old pool record. Bicer also swam strongly for the Bulldogs, finishing fourth in 50.03 while senior Tyler Scheid was 10th in 52.34. Cornell's Wes Newman won in a new pool record time of 48.62.
Righi was impressed with Pool's performance in the event.
"I think that Chris Pool's second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly was one of the best performances and a highlight of the day," Righi said.
McCloskey finished the day with his third Bulldog leading performance in the 200-yard individual medley relay. He placed eighth in 1:57.88 and was followed by Lugar Choi in ninth (1:58.51) and McElroy in tenth (1:59.25). Navy's Adam Meyer set another pool record by more than five seconds by winning the event in 1:46.25.
The last event of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay. Led off by Pool, the team finished fifth in 3:08.43. Veatch swam the second leg, followed by Bicer and Scheid. Navy won the event in 3:01.40.
Although the Bulldogs did not win the meet as they had hoped, Righi understands that the team can only learn from its experience.
"I think that one of the biggest things that we can work on is not feeling defeated after a small deficit," Righi said. "Cornell opened the meet with a small lead and we have to learn to be more resilient. These are two disappointing losses that don't matter that much in the long-run, but it stings a little bit. We need to work on bringing our "A Game" and just getting up and racing. We are all broken down from our training trip to Puerto Rico and both Cornell and Navy shaved and wore suits, while we didn't. The Dartmouth and Penn meet is a good opportunity for us to rebound and and show we can be a force. While the Ivy League dual-meet title is something to aspire to, we more look to the conference meet where we can take second or third. We have tremendous talent on our team."
The Bulldogs are next in competition at Dartmouth with Penn on Jan. 17.