While two hours of catch up arms and tumble turns would terrify most, for the members of the men’s swimming team, the routine of 10 practices a week beginning at 6 a.m. is as regular as daily publication of The New York Times. With the start of the season less than 20 days away, the Bulldogs are getting pumped up to dive into the water and compete.

In the spring, Yale finished its 2002-2003 campaign with an 11-2 regular season record and earned a solid third place finish at the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League Championship. Since official practice began on Oct. 1, the squad, under head coach Frank Keefe, who began his 26th season coaching at Yale, has undergone rigorous training to get back the lost ground in the water.

“The main aim of practice over the last 30 days was to establish an aerobic base,” Keefe said. “Once the season starts, we won’t be able to focus so much on fitness again, and that’s why we have been working hard in improving our fitness.”

With eight seniors and 10 juniors returning from last year’s squad, the Bulldogs do indeed have the potential to build on last year’s success, and perhaps even go further to challenge their Ivy rival Harvard. The Cantabs dominated the Championship in recent years, winning seven times in the last eight years.

“I am pleased with the way things have been going,” captain Alex Nash ’04 said. “Our goal this year is to beat Harvard and Princeton. From what I’ve seen, I feel this year we have a very good chance — the biggest during the years that I have been here.”

Nash returned for his last season to lead the Bulldogs after posting the team’s best times in the 100 (51.47) and 200 meter backstrokes (1:51.61) in the spring. Other key returnees include Jimmy Veazey ’04, Jack Cooney ’04 and Matt Aldrich ’04.

Although the Bulldogs have a solid veteran-based line up this year, new faces on the team have already shown early promises in the preseason scrimmage at the Connecticut Invitational that was held two weeks ago, in which Kent Garber ’07 swam 9:52.26 to finish second in the 1000 yard freestyle.

“My major concerns for them [freshmen] are not so much about winning right now, but how to get them off to the right start.” Keefe said. “I think they have three adjustments to make, first being the academic transition, second is the social transition and then swimming as the third transition. Ninety-five percent of our swimmers produce their lifetime best times during their senior years, so the important thing for them right now is to adjust themselves to Yale. So far they have been doing really well.”

When asked about the transitions, Hutchinson feels optimistic about his new swimming career at Yale.

“We spend a lot of the time bonding,” Hutchinson said, “and the upperclassmen are very welcoming.”

The Bulldogs will commence their 2003-2004 campaign in College Park, Md. at the Maryland Invitational on Nov. 20. Their first home event is Nov. 24, at noon, against Maine.