Lehigh swim team dives into 2023 season


With Lehigh’s swimming and diving season right around the corner, the men’s and women’s teams have begun their full, intensive work schedule to prepare for their upcoming meets.

Both teams kick off their seasons with their annual Brown and White Meet and start their Patriot League season Oct. 7 on the road against Loyola.

Last season, the men’s team finished 2-6 and placed sixth in the Patriot League Championship, while the women’s team finished 5-3 and also placed in the middle of the pack for the championship.

Robert Herb, who is entering his 20th season as head coach, is hoping to see a turnaround this upcoming season.

“The outlook for the season is very strong,” Herb said. “The men’s program is still rebuilding and will see strong moves in the league, while the women’s program is strong and will be back in the hunt for top league honors.”

Though Herb said he has no new strategies going into the season, he believes the main focus should be on team development and ensuring everyone is working harder and smarter as the season progresses.

Sophomore Ben Kisker said he is already feeling the burn from the intense training since returning to campus. He said he is starting to feel in top shape.

A member of the women’s swim team competes in a meet with the butterfly stroke. The team went undefeated at home last season. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

“The first week when classes started we had practice starting right away and hit the ground running,” Kisker said. “We are already up to full training — we have 11 practices a week. We are in full swing already, and that is sooner than we were last year.”

Kisker became the new record holder of the 200-yard backstroke at the end of last season, and he said he looks to improve even more throughout this upcoming season.

“All of us posted great times near the end of the season,” Kisker said. “We are really excited for this season, and we’re all ready to train hard and put in the work again.”

Kisker said he knows the only way the team will improve is if the effort is evident and everyone is trying hard to improve their “craft.”

With the start of the season and first-years joining the team, a lot of change is happening for the team. 

First-year Owen Higinbotham said he has already seen the difference between college-level practices compared to the ones he has previously experienced on his club swim team.

“The Lehigh practices are very specialized to specific skill sets,” Higinbotham said. “When you are in a swimming club you have to accommodate everyone, (at Lehigh) there’s a lot more opportunity to swim with different people who do the same thing as you.”

While the men’s team is optimistic their new recruits can make an immediate impact, Herb said he also has faith in the first-years for the women’s side and how they’ll help the team as a whole.

Member of the Lehigh men’s swim team competing in a freestyle race. The team won two meets while losing six last season. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Herb said graduate student Sarah Hardy and sophomore Mairin Ludwig are two women who will be leading the pack this year. With this, he thinks first-year Eliza Meth will be a major help in solidifying the team’s breaststroke and individual medley events.

Junior women’s swimmer Anushree Ghate said she has also seen the impact made by the new additions to the women’s team.

“I think all the first-years have been bringing their share to the team in the best way possible,” Ghate said. “They’re all so committed and mesh in well with the team. I can’t wait to see how their season goes.”

She also said the team’s practices and lifts have been focused on working toward the meets, which has prepared them for the upcoming schedule.

Overall, both teams carry confidence into this season, knowing their goals and what they are capable of.

“I think the team looks very strong — there is a very tight community within the team,” Higinbotham said. “We all really push each other and help each other and hold each other accountable. I have a really good feeling about this season.”

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