BETHLEHEM, Pa. – On the heels of a strong performance last weekend at the Princeton Invitational, Lehigh returns home to host rival Lafayette Friday at Jacobs Pool in the annual rivalry meet which serves as a precursor to the football game on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks will be looking to continue their recent success against the Leopards after sweeping the men’s and women’s meets in each of the last three years.
“As a team, we’ve done amazing work training-wise,” explained eighth-year head coach Rob Herb. “Swimming wise this is the best we’ve ever seen. It hasn’t been matched. The training hasn’t been matched, the racing hasn’t been matched. It’s been a great season so far.”
The Lehigh men’s team has had a stellar season thus far, winning all four of their meets handily and earning several top finishes at the Princeton Invitational. Sophomore Demetri Karedis has been outstanding this season, setting a new school record in the 50 free and winning the 100 free at the Princeton Invitational while senior Kevin Shoemaker added two second place finishes at the invitational in the 100 fly and the 200 fly as well.
The Mountain Hawks will look to continue their dominance on the men’s side as Lehigh has won the last 20 meets against its rival.
The Lafayette men’s team will be looking for their first win of the season on Friday. The Leopards finished third in a tri meet with Seton Hall and Loyola in late October and two weeks ago dropped a Patriot League quad meet to American, Bucknell and Navy. They will also be looking for redemption from a 213-85 loss to Lehigh at last year’s dual meet.
“We want to sweep races,” Herb said. We are going to put a good but fair lineup in. Some guys that don’t usually swim are going to be expected to finish first, second or third even though it might not be our top lineup. We have the advantage in the distance events, the IM events and the sprints, but Lafayette has a really good breaststroker and a really good flyer so those are areas where we will want to match them.”
The Lehigh women’s squad has also had a good start to the season, with a 2-2 record so far. Freshman Alyssa Leung has delivered several outstanding performances. At the Princeton Invitational, Leung led the Mountain Hawks with a second place finish in the 100 backstroke, and added strong swims in the 200 and 400 yard IM events.
Leung has been getting help from some of her older teammates as well, including junior Emily DiDonato, who has been strong in the breaststroke events and senior Paola Simon who has excelled in the sprints.
“The women’s side is similar to the men’s but they’re probably a little more matched up,” Herb noted. “Lafayette has some good speed. We chose a sprinting-oriented lineup. We’ve made it a little harder for ourselves but we have a lot to rise up to.”
The Lafayette women have had tough season thus far, placing third of three in their first meet and third of four in their second meet. The Leopard women faced the same opposition as their male counterparts but were able to pick up a win over American back on November 5. In last year’s rivalry dual meet, Lehigh defeated Lafayette 172-128. The Mountain Hawks have won the last three meets on the women’s side.
The expectation is to race fast and have a good meet,” Herb said. “I hate losing to Lafayette only because of the rivalry. Their coach Jim Daley is one of my best friends. We know their kids and they know ours. What it comes down to is just racing in the pool to honor that rivalry.
Herb continued, “Sheer emotion will carry us. The athletes know what it’s about. They don’t want to disappoint the alums or the department or the university so there’s going to be a lot of spirit in that pool.”
Friday’s meet begins with diving events at 3 p.m. with swimming events to follow at 6 p.m. from Lehigh’s Jacobs Pool.