Men’s swimming and diving opened up its season with victories over both Army and Penn this past weekend.
While head coach Jim Bolster chose to limit the Light Blue’s roster in its first competition against Army, it still tallied a 168-129 victory. The next day against Penn, Bolster unleashed the team’s full lineup, and the Lions responded with a decisive 198-102 victory over the Quakers.
The highlights of the weekend included first-year diver Jon Suckow’s record-setting performances. Suckow’s debut with the three meter springboard event on Friday against Army not only demolished the pool record, which was previously set by senior diver Jayden Pantel, but also set the varsity record.
“Team ambience is very special to me because my performance is not the only one that counts,” Suckow said of his record-breaking performance. “It’s really about the team doing well and not just me ... but I have to go back to work.”
The next day against Penn, Suckow went on to better his own record and concluded the weekend with a jaw-dropping score of 425.03. Pantel and Suckow tag-teamed all four diving events throughout the weekend, earning gold and silver respectively.
The Light Blue divers started off the weekend in high spirits, and the swimmers were quick to capitalize on that energy as the first-years and returners showed impressive times to start off the season.
While the meet against Army let the first-year Lions wet their feet in collegiate competition, Bolster backed several of his prominent swimmers out of the later half of the meet in an effort to let them rest up for Saturday’s meet against Penn. Last year, the Light Blue (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) barely defeated Penn with a 152-148 victory, but this year they began the meet with an impressive first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, and continued to dominate in every event, ultimately finishing the day 198-102.
Senior Michal Zyla took home the gold in the 100-yard backstroke clocking in at 49.53. Paired with sophomore Cole Stevens, who touched the wall at 50.18, these Lions could be the duo to beat this season as they went one and two in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events.
The Light Blue also dominated in the breaststroke events this weekend, with senior Jae Park, junior Jack Smith, and first-year Eric Tong all scoring in the points. Tong barely edged out Park in the 100-yard breaststroke as the pair finished with a 55.93 and 55.96, respectively.
This coming weekend, the Lions will have their work cut out for them against Yale (1-0, 1-0 Ivy), whom they lost to 148-152 last year during the dual meet season. The Bulldogs finished just behind Columbia at the 2017 Ivy League Championships, and two of Yale’s returners, Aaron Greenberg and Kei Hyogo, are defending individual Ivy League Champions.
Although Columbia had a strong showing against Penn and Army, Bolster looks ahead to a tough season but commended his first-years on their ability to contribute in their first weekend of dual meet competitions.
“I thought it was a good opening weekend for us,” Bolster said. “I think the freshmen got a nice introduction to what Ivy racing is all about and what racing for Columbia is all about. Hopefully they will continue to build on that, because we’re certainly going to need them.”
This Saturday at 1:00 p.m., the Lions will take on the Bulldogs at Uris Pool.