Practice makes perfect for swim teams

For most Elis, Sunday was just the middle of a rare three-day weekend. For the Yale swimmers, however, Sunday marked the first day they did not have practice in over three weeks.

This diligence was rewarded over the weekend with three separate victories for both the men and the women. On Friday, half of each team traveled to Fordham University, where the Bulldog women (5-0, 3-0 Ivy) defeated the Rams, 134-98, while the Yale men (6-0, 3-0 EISL) trounced their opponents, 140-92. The remainder of the team stayed at home to take on Fairfield, resulting in a 154-80 victory for the women and a 164-69 triumph for the men. The teams reunited Saturday to overwhelm Lehigh, the Eli men winning 194-114 and the women, 181-127.

Though the Lehigh meet was the fourth of the week, Yale held on to its competitive edge.

“We were racing far better against Lehigh than we were against Navy,” men’s captain Pat Dennis ’02 said, referring to the Navy meet last weekend. “This stretch was the most time consuming and demanding part of the season and all the guys handled it very well.”

The Yale divers began the meet successfully, with Bates Gregory ’03 and Josh Gallant ’04 each taking first place in the 1-meter dive. The Eli swimmers then continued to dominate the Mountain Hawks, placing first in every event up to the 200-yard butterfly.

Several events came down to the millisecond, most notably the men’s 50-yard freestyle. Jack Cooney ’04 came in first with a time of 21:64 — just 4 milliseconds faster than second-place Lehigh.

This race was the closest of the afternoon, however, and most Eli victories were decided by margins of seconds or more.

Women’s captain Emily Fain ’02 swam to one such victory in the 100-yard freestyle.

“I’m impressed, considering that we swam every day since December 28th,” Fain said. “Some people kept improving their times during all the matches.”

Kim Richardson ’03 did not improve her times, but she did win the 200-yard backstroke in 2:09.52 minutes.

“It was a really hard week,” Richardson said. “I stayed pretty consistent, which I was happy about.”

Though both the men and the women eventually beat Lehigh by solid margins — over 50 points — the Mountain Hawks were a tougher opponent than the schools the Bulldogs faced the previous day.

The Yale swimmers split their teams to take on both Fordham and Fairfield at separate locations.

“It gave some people that normally would not have swam three events the chance to get up and race three times,” Dennis said.

The Yale freshman women rose to the occasion. Against Fairfield, Emily Drilling ’05 took the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard fly and Kristin Ophaug ’05 won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle.

Fordham proved a slightly tougher opponent.

“They had a few decent sprinters,” Fain said.

Yet the Bulldogs made up for this difficulty with victories in the longer races. Allison Rogers ’05 won the 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyle while Matt Aldrich ’04 took the same events for the men.

After these three more practice-oriented meets, the Yale swimmers will go up against a more difficult opponent — the University of Pennsylvania — this Saturday. Some on the team are already looking ahead to the crucial Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet in two weeks.

“Penn is a good team and most likely will come to New Haven focused on getting a win,” Dennis said. “HYP’s will be very pressure-filled so it will be good to get in a pressure situation before HYP’s to see how people react.”

But of more immediate importance to the swimmers following their full weekend was their free day Sunday.

“We’ve been with each other so long, day in, day out,” Richardson said. “It’s nice to have some time alone.”

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