This season the Mountain Hawks are fortunate enough to have everybody, including team walk-ons, compete at the Patriot League Championships in less than two weeks.
“This season the numbers just work, allowing everybody to compete,” senior freestyle swimmer Sean Daugherty said. “This gives everyone a chance to compete at their highest level, and we’ll see a lot of personal best times across the board.”
It’s not a guarantee that a team will have its entire team competing in the championships, but for Lehigh, this will be the case.
There are high expectations for the Hawks to finish at Patriots near the top this season, as three school records were broken on the opening night of the Patriot League Championships last season. During this time last year, more than three seconds were taken off Lehigh’s 200 medley relay, two seconds were taken from the women’s 800 free relay and a new school record was set in the men’s 800 free relay.
While the women’s record improved from 6-4 to 7-2 compared to last season, the men’s record went from 6-5 to 5-5, which includes the cancelled meet against Bucknell University. Because of this improvement, there’s the possibility that Lehigh will continue to break school records at Patriots this year, as it has been preparing all season for the upcoming meet. However, while the teams’ records have improved, what has more importantly helped the team succeed this year has been their mutual support.
“This season the teams have done an especially impressive job of staying committed to our goals and supporting each member on an individual level,” Daugherty said. “It’s the first year in a long time that there’s been a diving team, and there’s a huge show of support for the diving events. Overall, there’s just been a more conscientious effort to supporting every part of our team, which has led everyone to improve.”
Daugherty said this kind of support has really helped the team improve in terms of individual times.
Throughout its season, the men’s and women’s teams have had successful performances across the board from sprint events to distance events, Daugherty said. This season strong performers include key sprinters, junior freestyler Jamal Willis; junior freestyler Justin White; and junior Jacob Moyar, who competes in distance and butterfly races.
Earlier this season, Willis, White and Moyar all traveled to Washington D.C. where they competed in the U.S. AT&T Winter National Championships with a chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials this summer. Both White and Willis qualified in the 50-meter freestyle.
On the women’s team, competitive sprinters include junior freestyler Kaitlyn Ruffing while sophomore freestyle and butterfly swimmer Sydney Bornstein, junior freestyler Cora Summerfield and senior freestyler Courtney Patterson have consistently helped the Mountain Hawks rack up points in their events. Junior free/butterfly/IM swimmer Kelly Carroll recently had wins in both the 100 butterfly and the 200 IM, second place in the 200 butterfly and the 200 medley relay team, all of which helped the women’s team defeat Drexel University 182-117.
Although both teams saw a number of victories this season, one of the biggest meets, as Daugherty said, was against Lafayette College.
“It’s consistently a great opportunity to see fast swims and great competition,” he said. “The energy level of the team helped us secure another win for the record books.”
While the women’s team defeated the Leopards 210.4-85.6, the men’s team beat Leopards 167-124.
However, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams has shown more than just excellence in the pool, but in the classroom as well. In January, both of Lehigh’s swim and dive programs were named Scholar All-America teams. The award is given to teams who achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher for either the fall or winter semester.
The Mountain Hawks will head to Annapolis, Maryland, on Feb. 17, where they will compete in the Patriot League Championships. The first meet begins at 2 p.m.