The Lehigh men’s swimming and diving team will compete in their first meet of the season at Holy Cross Sunday afternoon.
The Mountain Hawks are coming off a successful year in which they went 8-2 in dual meets and placed fourth at the Patriot League Championships.
Even with their success in the past few years, Lehigh has begun to rebuild its team with 18 new freshmen that will get the chance to prove themselves for the first time against Division 1 competition against Holy Cross on Sunday.
The youth of the team is in good hands with a strong group of returning athletes. “We lost some great athletes and leaders, but the leadership and team have stepped it up and will make all others from years past proud,” said eighth-year head coach Rob Herb.
The Mountain Hawks have five seniors on the men’s side, with Kevin Shoemaker expected to lead the way in the butterfly and individual medley events, Angelo DiGiacinto to be a factor in the back and fly events, Chris Toth to produce big points in distance freestyle and Jared Blacker in the breaststroke events. Diver Connor Styles rounds out the five men’s seniors and will lead a diving squad that saw both he and junior Mike Harshman score points at last year’s Patriot League Championships.
Others to watch for Lehigh include junior Alex Aboud, who has set school records in the 400 IM over the last two years, and junior Frank Cuzzola and sophomore transfer Demetri Karedis who should give the Mountain Hawks strength in the sprint events.
Lehigh picked up a 149-89 win at Holy Cross last year and will expect to have similar success this year.
“Our goal is to win the meets,” said Herb. “Our strategy is to put our best against their best and battle it out.”
Although Lehigh aims for a win on Sunday, they will no be satisfied with just that.
“Our expectations are that the team will race hard and start out the season with a lasting frame of mind that will produce historic swims and dives by our athletes,” Herb concluded.
The meet will begin at 1 p.m. at the Hart Center Pool in Worcester, Mass. Both the men and women’s teams will compete in their first home meet on October 29 against Colgate at Jacobs Pool.
Other key dates on the Mountain Hawks schedule include the annual Lehigh-Lafayette dual meet, set for Friday, November 18 at Jacobs Pool. Lehigh has swept Lafayette in swimming and diving in each of the last three years. In addition to the Colgate and Lafayette meets, Lehigh will host Rider November 5, Marist on January 7, and Bucknell in the home finale on January 21. The schedule has been bolstered with tough invitational meets hosted by Princeton in November and Navy in late January. Navy will also host the 2012 Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships, February 15-17 at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, Md.