It has been two weeks since the Yale men’s swim team last competed, but the Bulldogs are far from what Jack Cooney ’04 called “over-resting.” The Elis are ready to take on some of the best swimmers in the region this weekend at the 2004 ECAC Championship at Pittsburgh, slated to begin this Friday at the Trees’ Pool.
In their last meet on Feb. 7, the Bulldogs (9-3, 7-2 EISL) pulled off an impressive performance against Columbia (4-4, 3-2) and Brown (5-6, 3-5) to finish their regular season. This weekend’s ECAC and next weekend’s EISL comprise the traditional “post-season” for the swimming program. Each year, Yale head coach Frank Keefe selects his top 17 swimmers to compete in the EISL and 17 promising underclassmen to race in the ECAC.
“Frank sees ECAC as a stepping stone for the EISL.” Quinn Fitzgerald ’05 said. “He takes mostly underclassmen who look promising for the future. The benefits of a full taper and shave are huge [for them].”
Fitzgerald was one of the two double-winners for Yale in New York, winning both the 200- yard and 500-yard freestyle, and will represent Yale at next weekend’s EISL.
Although it might be tempting to underestimate the ECAC as an underclassman meet, young Bulldogs are expected to face some real serious competitions from more than 45 schools. The home team, University of Pittsburgh, is ranked 16th in the country. Another possible foe, the Panthers, just won their 19th Big East Conference Championship in the last 22 years, scoring more than 160 points ahead of second place Notre Dame.
University of Maryland at Baltimore County, a very talented team, will be present at the meet as well. Last weekend, UMBC dominated the 2004 America East Championships, amassing an incredible 901 points, 327 points in front of second-place Binghamton’s 574.
ECAC will be an excellent opportunity for the young Bulldogs to finish their season on a high note and to send a reminder to Keefe about next season.
“Our expectations are to do our best times this season and to challenge for the first place team awards at the conclusion of the meet,” Jack Hutchinson ’07 said. “We have been resting for about two weeks and will be shaving for the meet to go best times.”
Hutchinson will represent the Elis in the 400-yard individual medley, as well as the 500-yard and 650-yard freestyle events.
While the younger swimmers will be out competing for the ECAC title this weekend, others like veteran Cooney will remain on campus to prepare for next weekend’s EISL.
“[ECAC] will give the younger guys a chance to finish the season off with some good competition in a three-day, championship meet format.” Cooney said. “We expect our guys to turn some heads in Pittsburgh and to, hopefully, come back with the title.”
Hutchinson is not about to disappoint his teammate.
“It is always our goal to be the best team there, and this year we have an excellent opportunity to do just that.” Hutchinson said.