Lehigh freshman diver Megan Fennell dives into Jacobs Pool during a meet against Lafayette Nov. 17, 2017. The women’s swimming and diving team finished the season 6-2 and the men finished 5-5. (Matt Bonshak/B&W Staff)

Lehigh swim teams focus on upcoming Patriot League Championships

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Lehigh men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ended their regular seasons on Jan. 27 and switched their focuses to the upcoming Patriot League Championships at Navy in mid-February.

Coach Rob Herb said this year’s teams are tough, unified and committed.

“They really value and care about each other,” he said. “They train hard together, and they call each other out in positive, constructive ways so that they can achieve more.”

The women’s team finished with a 6-2 winning record for the second year in a row and a 4-1 Patriot League record. The men’s team improved on last year’s losing record with a 5-5 overall record and a 3-2 league record.

Herb attributed much of the men’s success to several standout seniors, including Jimmy Davey, Dean Shafritz and Zach Tieke. Herb said the trio’s leadership was instrumental in helping the talented group of underclassmen adjust to the team’s culture.

Tieke said he mentored several younger teammates in the weight room and gave advice about managing the stresses of being a student athlete at Lehigh.

Tieke praised freshman diver Tyler Keller for the impressive start to his athletic career at Lehigh. Tieke said Keller’s accomplishments during his first season diving for Lehigh helped the men’s team achieve its final record.

Tieke, a school record-holder in the 400 and 800 free relays, said he was proud of the his team’s performance throughout the season, particularly in the Mountain Hawks’ 155-133 victory over Bucknell University at Lehigh’s senior meet on Jan. 20.

“We won the first medley relay (at the Bucknell meet),” Tieke said. “Everyone was really excited after that, and so when we won, the energy really carried through the team through the rest of the meet.”

Lehigh finished fifth in the league in scoring with 343.5 points this season, one place after Bucknell.

The women’s team also earned important wins this past season, finishing third in the league in scoring with 528 points for the year.

The women’s team claimed wins against Boston University, 174.5-125.5, on Oct. 7, 2017, and Army, 153-147, on Jan. 9.

Senior Sydney Bornstein’s first-place performances in the 200 butterfly were critical to both wins. Bornstein went on to be named the Patriot League female swimmer of the week for the week of Jan. 30.

“I think it was a really big accomplishment to beat Army this year,” Bornstein said. “There was a great energy going into it. Everyone was cheering and rooting for the team, and it got people really pumped up for their races.”

Herb said seniors Julianne Koch and Meghan Thompson were also important to the team in meets against competitive opponents.

Bornstein said the underclassmen played a role in the outcome of the women’s season, and she commended their adjustment to the program’s rigorous schedule.

Herb said the women’s noticeable dedication to both school and athletics throughout the year impressed him and will benefit the women as they shift gears and focus on the upcoming championships.

“We focus on the (Patriot League Championships) as ‘our’ meet,” he said. “From the beginning of September, this is the focus of our season: preparing for the championships.”

Bornstein also exhibited confidence in the team and cited its training as a reason for the Mountain Hawks’ progress so far. She said if the team keeps up its training, its success will carry through to the championships.

Heading into the last league championships of his collegiate swimming career, Tieke said the meet will likely be different, but his attitude toward it wouldn’t change.

“It’s a bigger stage than some people may be used to,” Tieke said. “I really just want go out with the best times and score a lot of points for the team. End on a high note.”

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