Sixth Man: Swimming (and Diving)

Ryan Saenger ’16 celebrates his second-place finish in the 500 freestyle

My almost-favorite comedian Demetri Martin has a joke that goes as follows: “Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it to have fun, and other times you do it to not die.” Well played, Demetri. But he failed to consider the third possibility — sometimes you swim so that you can prove that you are faster at it than someone else (at least in a heavily chlorinated 50 m x 25 yd tub of water and in very specific ways that dictate the direction and path in which one must rotate one’s arms). This option is known as “competitive swimming,” and Cornell sucks at it in the same way that Cornell sucks at [insert any noun or action verb here]. It is thus no surprise that our very own Brown University Bears Swimming and Diving Team scheduled Cornell for its Senior Day last Saturday.

Both the Cornell men’s and women’s teams were 0-6 in Ivy meets going into the day; Brown men were 1-4 and women were 2-3 (my swim team sources tell me that Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are the best; I guess the best swimmers like to be rich and successful and soulless after college). We’ll get the bad news out of the way now — the women suffered a narrow upset, losing by a mere six points that probably should be attributed to scorekeeping error (the men won by a million points). The good news is that almost every event I personally watched — alright, so I didn’t stay for the whole meet, sue me — was won by Brown, so as far as I’m concerned we won. Anyway, whatever, you’re here to hear about the actual happenings at the meet (actually you’re probably here to read the Spring Weekend lineup and accidentally clicked this post instead, then navigated back about a paragraph and a half ago).

The weirdest thing about swim meets is that, in order to appease the hoards of diving-obsessed fanatics that swarm the Nelly just for the chance to glimpse scantily clad young men and women prance off springboards, there is diving happening at the same time. And the diving counts toward the score of the meet. Just for argument’s sake, let’s say that really the only similarity between swimming and diving is they both happen in a pool and require the wearing of Speedos (that wasn’t really for argument’s sake, it’s completely true). By the same logic, then, shouldn’t we score hockey games in combination with figure skating meets (shows? events? skate-a-thons?), since they both happen on ice? Or have football/soccer doubleheaders, highest cumulative score wins? The swimming-diving combo makes no sense to me. It just seems like a big middle finger to the swimming and diving teams, like a “you’re not important enough to be teams unto yourselves” kind of thing.

Anyhow, I don’t actually have anything to say about diving because I was too far away from the diving well to feel it was impolite to pay absolutely no attention to the diving. As for swimming, the most surprising bit to me was that swimmers in outside lanes kept placing in the top two or three, which means that a lot of people were either adding or dropping a lot of time in one of the last meets of the season. Yeah, that wasn’t really funny or interesting, sorry. But just for example, proud Champlin Champions representative Ryan Saenger ’16 came in second in the 500 freestyle (an otherwise boring seven-trillion-lap race) while swimming in lane two. OK, still not that interesting. But go Ryan! Also a quick congrats to the graduating Brown Swimming/Diving class, of whom there are too many to name in a non-tedious way in this post, but of whom I’m sure every single one made a unique and important contribution to the Brown swim program.

Alright, let’s be honest, I’m basically out of material. I actually like swimming (and even coach it over the summer, although if it wasn’t clear from the rest of the post, I have almost no idea what I’m doing) and really enjoyed the meet. If you had fun watching Olympic swimming (and who didn’t? Michael Phelps! Missy Franklin! Ryan Lochte! Jeah!), you would have fun at a Brown swim meet. You missed the boat a little bit this year, but next year’s meets are right around the corner. See you then.

Image via.

Leave a Reply