Getting into uncharted waters: three freshman swimmers break records in to Lehigh

Matthew Post

On the eve of the annual Lafayette-Lehigh football game, the rivalry took a different form with the Lafayette and Lehigh swim teams facing off on Friday, Nov. 16. Although both the men’s and women’s teams lost to the Mountain Hawks, three freshmen broke school records in dramatic fashion. The Weinstein Natatorium was packed to the brim with fans of both squads, and the school spirit showed with the Lafayette track and crew teams in attendance to support their fellow Leopards.

“All the upperclassmen were telling me that it’s a super fun meet, it’s a big meet, it’s a big deal,” said freshman individual medley swimmer Lauren Lapsley. “The stands were completely filled, it was really loud, people were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to hear the [starting gun] off the block. So it’s just a really exciting and a fun environment to be apart of.”

Despite the poignant energy that the fans provided, Lehigh defeated the women’s team, 224-68, and the men’s team 202-80. Three Lafayette swimmers, all freshmen, contributed record breaking performances. Individual medley swimmer Tara Leininger and Lapsley both broke the 100 yard individual medley record with a time of 1:02.71, narrowly beating the record time of 1:02.96. In the men’s 1000-yard free event, freshman Justin Lloyd shattered an eight year record with a time of 9:34.33, a whopping eight seconds faster than Stephen McCormick’s 2010 mark.

“It was really cool, it was one of my goals going into this year, like I’m going to break this record, ” Lloyd said. “To do that in my first year is really cool, and now we move on and I’m hoping to break some more records.”

Leininger and Lapsley tied in their record breaking performances, a very rare occurrence in competitive swimming.

“Tara [Leininger] and I were both talking about [the race], and we both wanted to go under [break the record],” Lapsley said. “We didn’t expect to tie, that’s super unlikely. Tara actually a couple of days before joked, saying, ‘We should just tie.’”

The rivalry meet concluded the team’s home slate of the calendar year. With only four opportunities to compete in the fall semester, the Lehigh matchup was a source of motivation for the swimmers.

“There was lots of intensity going into the meet,” Lloyd said. “We had been training all semester for this meet and it was really the first big meet of the season.”

The swim team travels to Nassau, N.Y., this weekend for the ECAC Winter Championships, their last competition of the semester.