A full day of competition awaited the Eli swimmers this past Saturday at home as the team engaged in a tri-meet with Ivy opponents Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania.
The Eli men (8-0, 5-0 EISL) started off the day at 10:00 a.m., eventually defeating Penn, 170-68, and Dartmouth, 168-69. The women’s (7-0, 5-0 Ivy) afternoon meet was equally successful for Yale, with a 162-99 triumph against the Quakers and a 201-91 win over the Big Green.
Going into the meet, women’s captain Emily Fain ’02 had reason to be apprehensive.
“Penn is a much better team this year than I’ve ever seen them,” Fain said. “They beat Columbia for the first time, and they came pretty close to beating Harvard this year.”
Against such a competitive adversary, however, the women did remarkably well.
“We had an amazing number of season-best times this weekend,” Fain said. “It’s pretty incredible that we had so many season bests, considering that we were unshaved and not fully rested.”
The Eli women dominated from the start, with Melanie Loftus ’05 and Gregory Bates ’03 taking the top two places in the first event, the 1-meter dive. The swimmers took over from there, winning the second event, the 200-yard medley relay, with a time of 1:48.59.
“[It's] a relay we’re not usually that strong in. Going well under 1:50 [is] something that has only happened once this season,” Fain said. “This really set the tone for the rest of the meet.”
Overall, the Bulldog women were strong from start to finish, taking first in 12 of 16 events. Heidi Kraus ’03, the champion in the 500- and 1000-yard freestyles, attributed the performance to both hard work and a more relaxed schedule.
“Not having three meets in a weekend made a big difference,” Kraus said. “We knew Penn would be tough competition, and we had to get really psyched up for this meet.”
The Bulldog sprinters were especially prepared, with Susan Cooke ’03 winning the 100- and 200-yard breast strokes, Paige Harazin ’04 taking first in the 100-yard freestyle, and three Bulldog women, led by Daphna Shafir ’04, taking the top spots in the 200-yard fly.
“Our 200 flyers are usually really good, but Saturday they were all great,” Fain said. “We were not expecting to do this well in the sprint events against Penn.”
The women’s success came on the heels of a similarly satisfying victory by the men.
The Eli men went into their meet knowing exactly what they wanted to accomplish.
“We were shooting to be as fast as we were at our Virginia meet [in November],” men’s captain Pat Dennis ’02 said. “For the most part, we came really close or swam faster.”
Dennis was the victor in the 200-yard individual medley, one of 12 first place finishes for the Bulldogs. The Elis were particularly dominant in the freestyle, a stroke in which Mike Schulte ’02 won both the 500- and 1000-yard events, and Jack Cooney ’04 took the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
Alex Nash ’04 was the winner of the 200-yard backstroke. While he was satisfied with his times, he did not feel the meet was as competitive as was anticipated.
“We were trying to improve every weekend up to this weekend,” Nash said. “[But] Penn was supposed to be better than they were.”
Dennis agreed, adding that the Bulldogs’ true challenge will be this weekend’s upcoming meets against Harvard and Princeton.
“We’ve got a really strong group of guys who want to go into this meet and come out undefeated,” Dennis said.
Fain and the women’s team are equally enthusiastic.
“Being shaved and tapered and taking into consideration the excitement surrounding a meet like H-Y-P, I don’t doubt that everyone will swim even faster and fight even harder in their races,” Fain said.
While Dennis feels the team is prepared going into the season’s most important Ivy meet, he is cautious about being overly optimistic.
“Swimming isn’t like basketball or football. You can’t control the other team’s offense or defense,” Dennis said. “You can only control what you’re doing.”