The men and women’s swimming and diving teams dove into their regular season in meets against Bard College on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Both teams emerged victorious as the men’s team captured the win with a score of 130-85, while the women’s side dominated the Raptors 137-67. Vassar has started its past three seasons with meets against Bard College and has claimed all six wins.
This year, a number of swimmers and divers had impressive finishes and contributed to Vassar’s ultimate domination. While the upperclassmen supplemented their previous success in the pool, the freshmen came out with a splash to also achieve great results.
On the men’s side, junior Jonah Strand grabbed the Brewers’ first win as he finished the 100 breast stroke with a time of 59.72. Soon after, senior captain Anthony Walker finished the 100 butterfly in 53.19 seconds to earn a first place finish of his own. In this victory, Walker impressively defeated Bard’s powerhouse Dio Tzortzis, who has claimed a myriad of wins for the Raptors.
“I am really focusing on the 100 and 200 butterfly this year, as I have in previous years. Probably my main goal this season is simply to beat my best times in both of those events,” Walker noted. “I also love being a part of relays, and I think we have a chance of breaking some relay records, especially the 800 freestyle relay record this year.”
Fellow seniors Patrick Lai and Chris Cerutti also swam well at the Brewer’s season opener. Lai swam a strong 1:05.50 for the 100 breast stroke as Cerutti handily clenched the win in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.71. Cerutti was the only swimmer to finish the race in less than one minute. Behind Cerutti, junior Luke Morrison claimed second place with 1:01.76, followed by junior Kyle Gray with 1:06.28 for third place.
With a time of 51.51, sophomore Lukas Harries earned first place in the 100 free as sophomore Ian LaBash trailed him by 1.2 seconds to earn third place.
As they suited up for the very first time, the freshmen also posted strong standings against Bard. Freshman Jordan Kalina won two events of the day as he finished the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:56.46 and swam the 500 free in a fast 5:11.23. Soon after, fellow classmate Yoav Yaron finished the 500 free in 6:34.67 minutes to claim the fourth spot.
To round up the freshman class success, Harrison Taylor finished in third place in the 100 fly with a time of 57.61.
With five new freshmen, the team looks for continued success from the first-year swimmers. “The freshmen are doing very well so far. They really stepped up this week at their first meet and I am very excited to have their energy throughout the season,” stated Walker.
The Vassar diving team also reached great success against Bard College. Sophomore Michael Deiner won both the 3-meter and 1-meter diving events with scores of 175.90 and 166.45, respectively. Junior Connor Martin also placed in the 1-meter as his score of 138.35 earned him third place.
“The win against Bard was great. Everyone really stepped up and pushed themselves during their races,” shared Walker. “We also did a great job of cheering each other on. Starting the season with that kind of meet really establishes momentum that we can carry forward to our next meets.”
The women’s side reached even more success in the pool on Wednesday. While several Brewers earned top spots, the sophomore class raked up the most wins on the day.
Sophomores Kael Ragnini and Sammy Stone both earned two victories in the opening meet. Ragnini won the 1000 free with a time of 11:21.04 and dominated the 100 back with a 1:07.20 time. Stone then clenched the 200 free and 500 free in 1:59.13 and 5:17.75, respectively.
Vassar then swept the leaderboards in both the 100-yard free and the 100 breast stroke. In the 100-yard free, sophomore Meg Harrington earned first place with a time of 59.10, junior Cali Corbett claimed second with 1:01.96 and sophomore Margaret Reisert placed third for her 1:12.42 time.
Head Coach Lisl Prater-Lee expressed enthusiasm about middle distance and distance freestyle swimmers Stone, Corbett and Ragnini and explained that they have been training very well together thus far this season.
Meanwhile, senior Kayla Schwab nabbed first place in the 100 breast stroke with 1:19.79, followed by freshman Abby Kirsh with 1:21.50 and junior Emily McDaniels with a time of 1:22.45.
The senior class also raked in impressive wins against the Raptors. Senior Julia Wieczorek finished in third place in the 100 back with a time of 1:12.60. Senior captain and All-American Julia Cunnigham earned first place in the 100 fly with a 59.33, while also claiming the second seed in the 500 free behind Stone. In her collegiate diving premier, Senior Elisielle Wilson recorded third place as she finished the 1-meter with a score of 83.95 points. Prater-Lee is very impressed with Wilson’s transition into the diving pool and early results in her first season as a diver.
With these results, Coach Prater-Lee excited about the senior class leadership and their ability to guide the team to victory.
“Despite not having the full squad due to injuries, we still were able to produce some impressive results and come out with a win. Winning that first meet was important to set the precedent for the season,” Cunningham shared. “I would go as far as to say that our support for each other is unmatched from many of our competitors. Despite not having a full squad in the pool, we definitely were present as a full team on deck.”
With these wins under their belt, the Brewers look to continue this success for the rest of the season under the leadership of Coach Prater-Lee.
Prater-Lee has had the reins of both the women and men’s squads for the past 21 seasons and has led the Brewers to great success In her tenure, teams have collected a total of 26 new school records while two Vassar swimmers earned All-American accolades. Her outstanding coaching was recognized in 2005 as Vassar was named the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year.
Although Prater-Lee has a large roster as she commands both the men and women’s squads, players on both sides express appreciation for her dedication and leadership of both teams.
Walker beamed, “Lisl is a phenomenal coach. She is extremely dedicated and passionate about the sport and the team. When I walk into practice every day, I know she will be there ready to do everything she can to make us a better team.”
Coach Prater-Lee emphasized that she enjoys coaching both the men and women’s programs as the teams have different dynamics and face varying obstacles.
In regards to the men’s side, Prater-Lee elaborated, “We have a large group of men and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do as big group. We will be more competitive as a group this season and in the practice pool we will be able to push each other quite a bit.”
On the other hand, the women’s team is significantly smaller this season and therefore must overcome distinctive feats. Prater-Lee said, “The women will be challenged this year to have strong dual meet results; we have tough competition. That also makes it exciting and important for each woman’s involvement and need to step up.”
Up next, the Brewers will face the Skidmore Thoroughbreds on Nov. 5 and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers on Nov. 12 in back-to-back home meets. Both Walker and Cunningham expressed heightened excitement about competing against Skidmore and RPI due to the strong competition.
Last time around, the women’s defeated the Thoroughbreds 171-98 and the men had a closer victory as they won 155-131. However, against the Engineers, both the women and men fell in 111.5-188.5 and 100.5-194.5 deficits, respectively.
Prater-Lee described, “We are looking forward to using our dual meets as stepping stones for the December 2016 Liberty League championships where we hope to improve on last year’s team performance.” The Brewers hope to improve upon last season’s performances and use those meets to prepare for the upcoming championships, especially the Liberty League Championships, which are merely one month away.