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Today's double meet with Columbia and Army marks the beginning of what most expect will be a very promising season for the men's swimming and diving team.
Last year the team won both the Ivy League and Eastern Regional titles and finished the season by placing 16th at the NCAAs.
The team lost only two seniors last year and picked up two transfer students and six freshmen. Coach Michael A. Chasson said. "On paper we are a better team than last year," he said.
Senior co-captain Karl M. Scheer agreed with Coach Chasson's predictions. "We have an amazing group of transfers and freshmen," Scheer said, "plus all our old guns are back."
Two of those old guns are juniors Brian J. Younger and Eric J. Matuszak.
Younger placed fourth last year in the 1,500 meter freestyle at the Olympic trials. Matuszak set four records at the Eastern regionals last year and qualified for the NCAAs in six events.
"This is definitely going to be our best season in quite a few years," Younger said. "We should beat Army and Columbia today by large margins," he added.
Freestyle relays are a very strong event for the team this year, said junior team member Matthew P. Cornue.
Scheer agreed that freestyle is the team's strong event, but noted that this year the team is very balanced. "We're really well-rounded," he said.
The Crimson's main competition in the Ivy League will be the Tigers, Chasson said. "In recent history, only Princeton has been close to us," he said. "But, this year they have the weakest team they've had in years."
While agreeing with his coach, Scheer was quick to point out that the Tigers should not be overlooked.
"You can't count Princeton out, they focus their season on trying to beat us," he said.
Several swimmers agree, though, that the ultimate goal of the team is to place in the top 10 in the NCAAs. "We hope to qualify 15 or 20 guys for the NCAAs," Scheer said.
Coach Chasson acknowledged that his team has its sights set higher than the Ivy League and is preparing for the NCAAs. "We've structured our training toward the nationals," he said.
The first big meet of the season will be at the University of Virginia on December 7 and includes top-ranked Florida State.
"That meet will give us a chance to go up against some good teams from outside the Ivy League, junior Benjamin T. Odell said.
Since October 1 the team has consistently practiced for 20 hours per week, averaging two practices a day, Chasson said. "We put in as much time as any team on campus," he said.
Senior co-captain David S. Alpert said this year the team members have demonstrated a new desire to better themselves.
"We've raised the intensity of our practices," Alpert said. "We have the talent and the ability. We just have to take it one meet at a time and good Lord willing, things will work out."
Today's meet at Army is just a warm-up for what should prove to be a very long season ending with Nationals during the final days of February.
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