The Lehigh men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will look to carry last year’s momentum into this season as they begin competition on Oct. 11.
Both the men and women will look to build on last year’s fifth-place finish at the Patriot League Championships. The women finished last year with an overall record of 7-2, while the men completed their 2013-2014 campaign with an overall record of 6-4. The teams had very similar results, with both losing to Patriot League opponents Army and Bucknell University. For the women, those were their only two blemishes on the season. However, the men suffered two additional out of conference losses to West Chester University and Rider University.
Both teams will be returning elite talent, a promising sign for this year’s success. The men welcome back sophomore Jacob Moyar, and the women, junior Courtney Patterson. Last year, Moyar made quite an impact by breaking three school records at the Patriot League Championships. The Virginia native finished seventh in the 500 free race, fourth in the 400 IM and fifth in the 200 fly to finish the tournament with a total of 41 points. Moyar earned All-League honors for his efforts.
Patterson also turned heads last season with her 4:16.73 finish in the 400-yard individual medley, which earned her a first-place finish at the Patriot League Championships. With the win, Patterson became the first Lehigh female swimmer in 11 years to claim the award. During the Patriot League Championships, Patterson competed in five events and set a record in all five.
When asked about the goals for this year’s team, Moyar said, “On any swim/dive team in the Patriot League, the goal will be to place higher in the conference and to set new records (personal and team) by improving from last year’s performances. However, I’d say a goal that is of particular interest to our team would be to try and get more individual Patriot League Champions.”
Along with the talents of Moyar and Patterson, Lehigh will look to sophomores Kaitlyn Ruffing and Jamal Willis. Last year, Ruffing swam a 50.51 in the 100-yard free race, which earned her an individual Patriot League championship title and a Lehigh record.
Willis was also very impressive as a freshman, finishing second in the 50 free race. For his efforts throughout the year, Willis was selected as a second-team All-Patriot League member.
With such deep talent and contributors at all levels, Lehigh’s teams believe that they have championship potential.
“Last year, we had two Patriot League Champions, [Ruffing and Patterson], who will be swimming again this year,” Moyar said. “However, that is just a fraction of the potential champions we have on this team.”
The Mountain Hawks know that this will take a cohesive effort and are pushing each other as a team to reach their goals.
“I think we have more drive this year to improve not only as individuals, but our teammates in the lanes next to us as well,” sophomore Justin White said.
“The goal of each individual on our team is simple: beat their time from last season,” senior Chris Campbell said. “Collectively, this will score us more points at the Patriot League Tournament than the year before and bring us closer to moving up in the league’s rankings. Our second goal, as always, is to beat Lafayette.”
Lehigh’s teams have worked hard to get to this point and credit their intense training for their success. White believes that their offseason cross-training program has made them the most fit team in the Patriot League.
“Preparation for this year has definitely been different,” White said. “A lot of the kids on the team are coming into season in shape from training over the summer, which allows us to become that much better than our competitors.”
Campbell also credits the team’s unique long distance running for the group’s success.
“We’ve added a lot of running into workouts in preparation for the Paul Short race last Saturday,” he said. “We therefore are definitely more aerobically fit than we were at this point last year.”
The Mountain Hawks have not only impressed in the pool, but in the classroom as well. Last year, the men’s team placed 10 student-athletes on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, while the women placed nine. For placement, students must achieve a grade point average of at least a 3.20.
Both the Lehigh men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will begin their season against Boston University on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Boston. Last year, both of the Boston University men’s and women’s teams finished in the top three at the Patriot League Championships.