CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - In 1914, the beaver was selected as the mascot of the MIT Engineers because of its mechanical skills and habits of industry. Had the selection committee seen the institute's current swimming and diving program, it would likely have cited an additional similarity: expertise in the water.
In the latest poll conducted by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) and CollegeSwimming.com, both MIT swimming and diving teams shot up in the Division-III national rankings as the men's team landed at No. 5 and the women settled at No. 6.
With Dawn Dill leading MIT and Kathy Milliken at the helm of No. 2 Kalamazoo College, the poll created history as it marks the first time two men's teams, coached by women, have been ranked in the top five of the same poll in any NCAA sport.
On Friday, January 8, the men and women will square off in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) competition against the Lyons of Wheaton College in the Zesiger Center pool.
Entering this week, MIT's men hold the best times in the NEWMAC in 17 of 18 swimming events. Nationally, nine Engineers hold individual top-20 times in D-III, including senior Rastislav Racz, who ranks third in the 100 Breast (56.46). MIT also ranks top-5 in four relays, including the division-second-best time in the 200 Free Relay (1:22.26). Wheaton diver Jonathan Gold will have the opportunity to pick up points for the Lyons, as the diving well has been difficult for the Engineers to master this season.
On the women's side, freshman Anna Kokensparger has dominated the pool with conference-leading and national-top-20 times in six events. In the relays, MIT is one of only four D-III teams to rank top-10 nationally in all five races. Wheaton's Dania Piscetta will be the Engineers' biggest challenge, as the junior has the top NEWMAC time in the 200 Free and runner-up times in three other events.
For the first time, fans will be able to catch MIT swimming and diving action online, as the meet will be webcast through MIT's partnership with B2 Networks. The cost to view the event is $7. Action kicks off at 5 p.m.