After 13 dual meets and hundreds of hours of intense workouts, the men’s swimming team’s season boils down to the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League Championship at the Nassau County Aquatics Center on Long Island this weekend, starting today.
“Everyone is very psyched up,” captain Greg Palumbo ’03 said. “We are looking forward to improving upon our results at H-Y-Ps. We definitely have a high energy level.”
In the month since the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, where most of the team posted season-best performances, Yale (11-2) won its final dual meet and has enjoyed reduced yardage and workouts to rest, get healthy and focus on individual race strategy and technique in preparation for EISLs.
The Ancient Eight will join the Army and Navy at EISLs, which will span three days. Each day will have a morning preliminary session with all competitors and an evening final session with the top 16 qualifiers scoring points toward overall team scores.
Though the championship format will test the strength, resiliency and focus of the Bulldogs, who are used to competing in dual meets that take a matter of hours, it should also play in their favor because of the consistent depth demonstrated throughout their season.
“We really have to focus on finishing in the top 16 in all of our events, especially everyone’s third event,” Palumbo said.
Each swimmer can compete in three individual events and up to four relays.
Princeton, undefeated this season and defending EISL champion, and Harvard, the six-time defending EISL champion prior to the Tigers’ 2002 win, are the teams to beat. Based on the regular season, Yale looks to be a solid contender for third.
“We are seeded well going into this meet,” John Atkinson ’05 said. “We have swum everyone in the conference, and now it’s time to match our best 18 guys to theirs. All our hard work will pay off.”
While team goals are improving on last year’s point total and gaining ground on both Princeton and Harvard, success will ultimately be found in individual performances.
“While we obviously want to be competitive in the meet, we cannot focus on what the other teams are doing. All we want is to go out and swim lifetime best times,” Palumbo said.
Perhaps there is no better environment to do so than the conference championship, held in a facility built for the 1998 Goodwill Games and highly regarded as one of the fastest pools in the nation.
“All of the time and effort we have put forth in the pool for the last six months has been focused on the next three days of competition,” Jack Cooney ’04 said. “This is where we find out what we’re made of. There are no excuses.”