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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

In first year back, swimming and diving takes added weight seriously

Published: November 16, 2012
Section: Sports

The men and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted cross-town rivals the Bentley Falcons last Saturday. Losing by scores of 149-103 and 135-106, for men and women, respectively, the Judges nonetheless achieved a number of winning individual performances.

Max Fabian ‘15, who is in his first year at Brandeis, won a freestyle distance race by finishing first in the 1000-yard event. His time was 10:10.28. Fabian also won a medley event for the day, the 200-yard individual, for which his time was 2:08.75. First-year Brian Luk ‘16 from Hong Kong, led in two races as well, the sprint races comprising the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, with times of 22.79 seconds and 49.08 seconds, respectively.

Brandeis did considerably better hosting Bentley than it did competitively at Providence College the day before. The Friars, a Division I team, outscored the visiting Judges by a much more lopsided 118-70 for the men and 142-5 for the women.

In addition to being Division I, where Providence frequently tests itself against some of the toughest regional squads, the Friars’ home pool is unfamiliar to Brandeis swimmers as it measures in meters.

“The difference between it [and the standard 25-yard pool] is small,” Fabian said. “But it adds up. There are different ways to train and we don’t have the chance to race 25 meters often.” Overall, Fabian, who had the banner day Saturday, said that racing in Providence was “a great opportunity to race against” a Division I team.

Fabian said that not only was Bentley “closer to our level,” but predicted that it would be “a good rivalry in the coming years, the future, a bar for us to meet.”

The Brandeis swimming and diving program is on its first semester back after a necessary hiatus when Linsey Pool closed three years ago.

A member of the women’s team, rookie first-year Theresa Gaffney ‘16, said that her experience on the team is all the more special as it is also the program’s re-birth.

“It’s cool to be a freshman and know that we can start lots of new traditions,” she continued to say, “and we can set the tone for what the program is going to be like.”

Fabian echoed these notions, saying that a large part of the team’s goal this year is to represent the program and lay the groundwork for a successful Brandeis sport.

“This is a completely new shot: it’s a very rare opportunity we have, this weight at our back, to try to rise to the challenge [of being the first in the new program],” he said.

Regarding the team’s mixed success so far this year, with several individual standout performances but large total point losses, both representatives, men and women, said that the size of the crew they could field in races explains much of the disparity.

“A lot of the time, including Bentley’s meet, there are about 15 swimmers just for the boys or girls side,” Gaffney said, “while we have 19 total for both” sexes. When schools can get the points for winning second, third and fourth, for instance, by fielding more racers, meet totals will show the Judges as far behind even if they out-swam in individual events.

Fabian agreed, saying that with only “nine guys” compared to 15, it was much harder even when he won several events to outscore in the grand totals.

“But this first year, we’re not looking at number of wins now, just trying to build the program, and successful swimming we can get,” he said. “We’re working hard, trying to build up and we can only get better from here.”

Coach Mike Kotch leads both the men’s and women’s teams. He said the theme of building the program was accurate and went even further to say it would fit in well with Brandeis’ overarching purposes, describing his squad as student-athletes in the best sense.

“We’re trying to build a culture of excellence, a competitive attitude, being accountable for each other,” Kotch said. “These kids are very driven in the classroom and we expect them to do the same in the pool, the basketball court, anything.”

The Judges have the rest of November off, with a meet at Wesleyan Dec. 1. Kotch said the meet would be a “good opportunity to compete against an established program and practice before we think about coming back to campus next year.” Brandeis will host its next home meet in January.