A three-day battle of the Ivies took place this past weekend at Yale’s own Robert Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool as the Bulldog swimmers took on their longtime rivals, Harvard and Princeton.
The Eli men (12-1, 6-1 EISL) claimed their 1,000th all-time victory Saturday, triumphing over the Tigers 177-176. Though Harvard bested the Bulldogs, 194-159, the women (10-1, 4-1 Ivy) avenged their counterpart’s loss by prevailing 175-144 over the Crimson Sunday. The Princeton women, however, also evened the score with a 184-143 win over Yale.
The women began their meet Saturday evening in a pool area festively decorated with such slogans as “Nobody Comes into our Doghouse and Steals our Bone.”
Laura O’Brien ’04 felt the atmosphere contributed to Yale’s energy.
“I love our pool,” O’Brien said. “When a lot of people are cheering, we get really excited.”
Despite Eli enthusiasm, the Princeton women dominated most of the night, taking all three freestyle events, including a 9:58.16 time that set a new pool record in the 1,000-yard freestyle.
The evening did, however, end on a positive note for the Bulldogs. Susan Cooke ’03 won the final event of the night, the 400-yard individual medley, with a time of 4:24.31.
The breakup of the match over a space of two days was a mixed blessing for most swimmers.
“You think about all the stuff you have to do,” O’Brien said. “But it’s easier to concentrate on each event.”
Going into Sunday’s competition, the Bulldogs had a lead over the Crimson, 90-79, but were trailing the Tigers, 105-64. With an initial victory by Bates Gregory ’03 in the 3-meter diving, the swimmers took over the action.
Of the next seven events, Cooke won both the 200-yard breast stroke and the 200-yard individual medley.
O’Brien, whose time in the 1,000-yard freestyle the day previously was Yale’s fastest, continued her success with another Yale high finish in the 500-yard freestyle.
“I did a lot better than I expected,” O’Brien said. “I wasn’t feeling that good in the water a few days before the meet. But I trust my coaches.”
Along with the coaches, the Eli men, who had recently completed their own two-day meet, lined the stands.
The Yale men came out strong Friday, winning the first event, the 200-yard freestyle relay, with a time of 1:21.81. Josh Gallant ’04 followed up this victory with a triumph in the men’s 1-meter diving.
Much of the rest of the meet was characterized by strong individual performances.
Atticus Leblanc ’02, Yale’s front-runner in the 200-yard breast stroke, finished fourth in the event.
“The [HYP] meet is always really competitive. Almost everyone on the team swam as well as they could,” Leblanc said. “But I thought Princeton would be better than they were.”
Overall, Yale took first in six of the 19 events. Gallant contributed again with a victory in the 3-meter diving and another sophomore, Alex Nash, was the winner of both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke.
One of the biggest Yale success stories was Mike Schulte ’02, who swam his way to a lifetime-best of 15:06.80 in the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle, just .66 seconds behind the Harvard victor. With this time, Schulte qualified for the upcoming NCAA championships.
“It was something I was working towards for quite a while,” Schulte said. “Ever since I got to college.”
Despite Yale’s individual successes, the meet against Princeton came down to the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. Three members of the team that began the meet with a win in the 200-yard relay — Jack Cooney ’04, Jimmy Veazey ’04 and James Cocks ’03 — were part of the Yale A team in this deciding event. They proved they could finish out a meet as well, taking first and clinching the victory over the Tigers.
After this marathon of intense Ivy competition, the Bulldogs have only one Ancient Eight meet left before the Ivy Championships. The swimmers will take on Brown this weekend at home.
“Brown is really tough,” Schulte said. “But they’re coming into our pool, and we don’t want to lose our last meet at home.”