Strokes of Genius

Brad Oastler

After a successful month of intense training that concluded with a 10-day trip to St. Croix (for the swimmers) and Puerto Rico (for the divers), the Colgate swimming and diving teams returned to competition – and showed just how much they learned over break.

On January 17, swimming powerhouse and league foe Bucknell traveled to Hamilton to face off with the Raiders – with huge consequences for Colgate.

The Raider women defeated the reigning three-time Patriot League champion Bison, 165-135, for Colgate’s first win over Bucknell in 21 years. Senior diver Emily McAuliff played a big part in the win for Colgate, sweeping both the one-meter and three-meter events. The very strong Raider first-year class also continued to impress, as Emily Murphy and Lisa Marchi won three events each and Beverly Walker set two Colgate first-year records.

“Bucknell has won Patriots for the past three years, so we saw them as our toughest challenge,” senior captain Amy Cole said. “We knew we had to be at our best to beat them.”

The men put forth a valiant effort but fell to the Bison, 200.5-94.5, despite individual wins from senior Marc Falkner in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes, and the 200-yard individual medley. First-year Stephen Haskin, the leading male diver on the Colgate squad, paced the Raiders by finishing first and third in the one-meter and three-meter events, respectively.

Coming off the exhilarating dual meet, the Raiders hosted Patriot League opponent Lafayette College last Friday in the beginning of the team’s senior recognition weekend. The men’s team celebrated by picking up its first league victory of the season in a 179.5-103.5 win. The Raider men won 14 of 16 events in dominating the Leopards.

The Lafayette women, meanwhile, were no match for the pumped-up Raiders, who dominated in every race. Marchi broke a pool, varsity and first-year record in the 200-yard free, and Walker broke a 24-year-old first-year record in the 200-yard fly. Cole and Chrissy Zaika won their respective events, the 1,000-yard free and the 50-yard free, adding more points to the Colgate total.

Senior weekend closed out as Cornell came to town. The Cornell men hade been predicted by some to win the Ivy League, and so it was an uphill battle from the start for the Raider men. Although the Raiders lost, Falkner won the breaststroke events, while first-years George Bennitt, Scott Dunlavey and Brian Kennedy placed first in their respective events.

The Colgate women, meanwhile, pulled off a spectacular win by only two points. The win gave the Raider women an undefeated mark both at home and in the Patriot League; the first time a Colgate squad has accomplished that feat. Colgate beat Cornell for the first time in 24 years in a meet that came down to the final race. In that race, the Raiders needed to finish in second and third place to take home the win – and the team did just that. Murphy, junior Keriann Fitzsimons and sophomores Colby Seamons and Allie Lenci placed second for the Raiders, and the pivotal third place finish was turned in by the foursome of Marchi, first-year Ashley Bottger, and sophomores Magdalena Mango and Caitlin Grant.

The team’s undefeated record in the Patriot League leaves some of the swimmers wondering what may be in store for the championships.

“The team is very excited about our dual meet success, but continues to look ahead to the championships,” Cole said. “We know we must continue working hard with Patriots only four weeks away.”

“The team set itself up for a great training trip, and when it was over, it showed through the win against Lafayette and the best times that came up left and right,” senior captain James Silas said regarding the men’s team. “We’re in position to have a great taper.”

The Raider teams have less than four weeks left until the Patriot League Championships on February 23, with the one remaining dual meet left in the season taking place tomorrow at Binghamton. The meet will be a challenge, but the positive attitudes held by all the Raider swimmers and divers should propel the team through the rest of the season.