Dec. 3, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The men's swimming and diving team will split up to compete at three different meets this coming week to face the best possible competition. The team, which is undefeated in dual meet competition, will send three swimmers to compete at the elite US Short Course Nationals meet in Atlanta while most of the team will compete at the University of Virginia Invitational hosted by No. 13 Virginia. The diving team, which has not lost an event this year, will receive its first large test at the Galbraith Diving Invitational hosted by Rutgers. The Virginia and Short Course Nationals meets take place Thursday through Saturday while the Galbraith meet is on Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend is a critical opportunity for the Bulldog squad to get used to the long, three-day meet format that includes both preliminaries as well as finals in events. This extra time will allow the Bulldogs to acclimate themselves to having full rest periods and cool downs following races and provide the time to mentally focus on each race instead of on the meet as a whole. The University of Virginia Invitational is the last opportunity for the Bulldogs to compete in a three-day meet prior to the ECAC and Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, both of which use the extended meet format. The NCAA Championships also utilize the schedule.
The US Short Course Nationals meet will allow select Bulldogs to compete against the top swimmers in the nation, regardless of club or college affiliation. Seniors Alex Righi, Dennen McCloskey and Chris Pool will begin competition on Thursday. The Bulldogs, as a team, placed fifth in 2007 behind Righi's strong performances. Both Righi and Pool competed at the US Olympic Trials while McCloskey earned an Olympic Trials qualifying time shortly following the Trials.
Righi enters the meet as the top-seeded athlete in the 50-yard freestyle event after tying for sixth in 2007. This performance was impressive considering Olympian Michael Phelps was the champion in the event last year. Pool will also swim the event and is seeded 48th. He was 65th last year.
The Bulldogs should also expect to earn points in the 100-yard freestyle event, another event that Righi is the top seed in. Righi placed fifth in the event in 2007 behind Olympians Phelps and Jason Lezak.
The 100-yard backstroke looks to be another promising event for the Bulldogs, with Righi entering as the seventh seed after placing ninth last year.
Two Bulldogs, Righi and Pool, will also compete in the 100-yard butterfly event. Pool is seeded 19th while Righi is seeded 35th. Pool placed 29th and Righi 45th one year ago.
The 200-yard butterfly could be the best event of the meet for Pool. He is currently ranked 14th in the event after placing 59th in 2007.
McCloskey will have a good chance to perform well in the 400-yard individual medley, an event which is an extreme test of a swimmer's versatility. McCloskey is seeded 26th in the event after placing 31st in 2007. McCloskey will also compete in the 200-yard backstroke, an event he is ranked 43rd in. McCloskey placed 50th in the event last year.
Because of the high level of competition at the meet, the swimmers at Short Course Nationals can expect to be pushed to swim their best times of the season with a goal of achieving qualifying times for the NCAA Championships.
A large contingent of 16 swimmers will also compete at the University of Virginia Invitational against swimmers from Virginia and West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Virginia, as a ranked team, should give the Bulldogs some tough competition while West Chester University is currently undefeated in its dual meet season.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs will compete in the 200-yard freestyle relay, 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle and the 400-yard medley relay. The schedule for Friday includes the 200-yard medley relay, 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke and 800-yard freestyle relay. The meet concludes Saturday with the 1650-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly and 400-yard freestyle relay. The preliminary rounds of competition begin at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday with finals starting at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, competition will begin at 10 a.m. for preliminaries and 5:00 p.m. for finals.
Competing for the Bulldogs will be seniors Sebastian Cousins, Dan Li, Kyle McElroy, Tyler Scheid and Matt Sweitzer; juniors Thomas Robinson, Craig Steen and Jon Taylor; sophomores Lugar Choi, Jerold Lee, Matt Lee and Kyle Veatch; and freshmen Goksu Bicer, Matt Boone, Christopher Luu and Scott Shinton.
Righi believes that both meets will be great opportunities for the swimmers to get in fast times.
"Virginia is a top school and has a very talented team that will push us to swim fast," Righi said. "Short Course Nationals is a chance for me to get an NCAA `A cut' so I can train hard the rest of the season. Invites are a good opportunity to get up and see how to go fast in races."
The diving team will be able to focus exclusively on diving this weekend as the Bulldogs compete at the Galbraith Diving Invitational. The meet will include strong competition from No. 15 Penn State, Army, LaSalle, UMass and Penn. The divers, who have not lost an event all year, will be able to focus on their individual dives as team points are not calculated.
Last year, sophomore Eric Olson placed 10th in the one-meter and sixth in the three-meter event. He will return to the Galbraith Diving Invitational along with junior Drew Teer and freshman Colton Staab.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity