Swimming & Diving: Teams set to open season at DeNunzio Pool
When the men’s swimming and diving team won last season’s Ivy League Championship meet, it solidified a four-year reign atop Ancient Eight swimming. Last year’s seniors went their entire Princeton careers without losing an Ivy Champs meet, a feat that had not been achieved since 1992, when Ivy League swimming and diving teams competed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swim League.
So as the squad kicks off its season, the Tigers are the team to beat. The women’s team, which came just short of winning a league title to Harvard last season, also enters this year with high aspirations.
“We definitely have a target on our back,” men’s team captain Rory Loughran said. “But being here and winning the last three years, the senior class knows how to go about pacing ourselves throughout the season. We can’t get complacent with our success, we’ve got to continue to work hard.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams certainly have been practicing intensely throughout the fall in preparation for the season. They have 10 practices a week in addition to two one-hour lifting sessions.
Coming off a tough week of practice in Florida over fall break, including a scrimmage against Florida Atlantic, the teams will both begin their regular seasons this weekend with the Big Al Open at the DeNunzio Pool.
“We got our butts kicked [in Florida],” Loughran said. “Everybody is worn out. The idea is that we break our bodies down, so they build themselves back better than before.”
The objective of this strategy is for the swimmers to peak at the end of the season. Women’s head coach Susan Teeter made it clear that this meet was less about posting good times and more about getting into a race mentality.
“Most of our team has not competed in a meet since the summer season. It’s important for everyone to just have opportunities to test-drive their training and see where they need to focus energy on improving over the next month or so,” Teeter said.
This weekend’s meet will serve particularly useful for the Tigers, as it will simulate the Ivy Championship format in terms of the order of events of each day. Especially for the sophomores, juniors and seniors, this meet will be a good way to gauge where they are in comparison to previous years at this point in the season.
Each individual has personal goals that they strive for at the beginning of each year. For Loughran, this means breaking a minute and 40 seconds in the 200-meter freestyle. But more important than the individual aims are the hopes for the team collectively.
Both teams are extremely tight-knit groups. They spend 20 hours a week in the pool, in addition to constantly doing work, grabbing meals and hanging out together.
“It’s so important to have a group effort,” Teeter said. “If everyone is not committed, this is a very hard sport to be involved in.”
Both sets of Tigers also have their sights set on the Ivy League championship, which will be decided in early March. The men’s championship will take place at Brown, while the women’s meet will be hosted by Princeton.
“I hope that there will never be a season where we don’t want to win that trophy and have it rest in DeNunzio Pool,” Teeter said.
On the more immediate horizon, the Tigers look forward to going to Penn and Brown in the next month. In Providence, Princeton will try to get a feel for the brand-new Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center, which is the site for the men’s Ivy League Championships and contains the pool purported to be the fastest in the Northeast.
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