The Lehigh football and men’s soccer teams are not the only Mountain Hawks facing rivals Lafeyette this week. Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will look to continue their hot starts to the season when they face the Leopards on Friday, Nov. 22.
The men’s team is currently 4-1, while the women’s side enjoys a perfect 5-0 start.
The rivalry between the Lehigh and Lafayette swimming and diving programs has been consistently one-sided, as neither the men’s side nor the women’s side has fallen to the Leopards in over a decade.
Although Lehigh historically dominates matchups against Lafayette, there is high motivation to compete against Lafayette during rivalry week. Jacobs Pool gets crowded with fans from each side every year, which presents an especially exciting venue for the athletes to compete in.
Junior diver Megan Fennell has already broken Lehigh’s one- and three-meter diving records this season. Fennell said she’s excited to compete in a home atmosphere filled with so many alumni who never fail to travel back to Bethlehem to show support for the program.
“It is always a great atmosphere when Lafayette comes to Jacobs Pool to compete,” Fennell said. “We always have a lot of alumni that come back to support us, and it really shows you how big the Lehigh swimming and diving family really is.”
Fueled by the anticipation associated with a rivalry, an extra buzz surrounds Lehigh’s campus every spirit week. Bed sheets poking fun at Lafayette are hung on houses all over campus, while Lehigh’s Marching 97 band travels from classroom to classroom, playing the fight song and generating excitement for the impending matchups.
It can be difficult for athletes to stay focused amidst the thrill, but coach Rob Herb said he feels confident his swimmers will be able to tune out the noise and prepare for the competition ahead.
“The hype is part of the excitement that the athletes use to generate the energy that they credit to the meet.” Herb said. “It really is an exciting meet for the team, and we use the hype to generate energy and it ends up being a very fast meet on both sides.”
Senior swimmer Walker Wilson received Patriot League Swimmer of the Week honors following his remarkable performance against Loyola on Oct. 26. Wilson won all four events that he participated in and helped Lehigh edge out a 147.50-146.50 league win against Loyola.
Wilson said he hopes to use his success against the Greyhounds to build confidence heading into the rivalry meet.
“Loyola was definitely a tough meet, and probably the most exciting meet I have had since I have been here,” Wilson said. “It has been about three weeks since we have competed against another team, so it is going to be nice to compete again this week against Lafayette.”
Both the women’s and men’s teams have had a long break to revitalize and prepare for the upcoming meet against Lafayette.
Following a tedious first half of the schedule, both teams used the extended break to get their minds off of competition and improve mentally and physically, Wilson said.
“We really stress to the team to take the previous three weeks as a mental break,” Wilson said. “Not having to think about how we perform at a meet, but instead fighting through your body being tired and sore, is what will help us now that we are racing again.”
The Mountain Hawks will use this mindset and the competition against Lafayette to prepare for the toughest meet of the year, at the Rutgers Invitational from Dec. 4-7.