With the Ivy League dual-meet season on the horizon, the men’s and women’s swimming teams finished up the toughest training of their respective seasons over winter break.
The Elis took an eight-day training trip to Puerto Rico from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5, where they also competed in the Copa Coqui Invitational Jan. 3. The women dominated the event, winning with 197.50 points to second-place Syracuse’s 109.50. The men had a tougher meet, but came away with the win by 33 points over Harvard.
Yesterday, the men destroyed Maine, 182-109, while a nine-member women’s team eked out a 161-139 win over the Black Bears.
The Copa Coqui Invitational featured a short set of events. Only two relays and seven individual events took place, with no individual medleys or races of more than 200 meters — strengths for both the men and women. But despite the limited scope of the event, the Elis were able to rise to the occasion.
Moira McCloskey ’07 led the women’s team in the invitational, winning both the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes in meet-record times of 1:07.52 and 2:25.66, respectively. Other Bulldog event winners were Chase Butler ’07 in the 100-yard freestyle and Meg Gill ’07 in the 100-yard butterfly; the latter also placed second in the 50-yard freestyle.
The women finished the meet in dominant fashion. To round out the individual events, Laura Aronsson ’08 and captain Caroline Stephenson ’05 came in second and third, respectively, behind McCloskey in the 200-yard backstroke for the 1-2-3 sweep. Bulldog 200-yard medley relay teams then took first and second to finish the meet.
On the men’s side, Geof Zann ’07 mirrored McCloskey’s result, winning the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes in 1:00.85 and 2:14.29, respectively, both meet records.
While Zann was the only event winner, the Elis showed their depth by placing multiple swimmers for points in every event. The highlight came in the 200-yard backstroke, in which Billy Rubenstein ’08, Hugh Sullivan ’08, John Lynch ’08 and Brendan Everman ’06 followed Zann, allowing for an Eli sweep of the top five spots in the event.
The men had not defeated Harvard in any meet for a number of seasons. While the Bulldogs said the Harvard squad was not at full strength, they were happy with the potential the Elis showed.
“We can’t get too overconfident,” captain Dave Lange ’05 said. “We know Harvard has more. But it also shows that we had plenty of talent, and when we have good days we can catch them.”
Both the men and women said they were happy with how well they swam, especially given the tough training.
“We all, amazingly, were able to swim well after hard practice in the morning,” Stephenson said. “In past years we cramped through the meet. Here everyone was a little better motivated.”
Neither the men nor the women took full squads to Maine yesterday. Yale head coach Frank Keefe opted to bring only the men and women who are vying for spots on the travel squad and some freshmen, to give those swimmers a chance to prove themselves against a weak Black Bear squad.
Despite missing their top swimmers, the men absolutely dominated the meet, winning all 16 events. Joe Mack ’05, Sullivan and Doug Scott ’08 led the way with two individual wins each. Mack took the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes while Sullivan won the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes. Scott won both the 1- and 3-meter diving competitions, followed by Jeffrey Lichtenstein ’08 and Pat Hayden ’08 both times in second and third, respectively.
The men’s performance was so dominant that Eli swimmers were not scored for the last four events.
The women had a much harder time of things up in Orono. With only a twelve-member squad — three of whom were divers — nearly every swimmer swam in four events.
Stephenson led the way with wins in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes. She was also on the victorious 200-yard freestyle team. Nicole Swaney ’08 and Ali Jones ’08 were both two-event winners, Swaney’s wins coming in the 100- and 1000-yard freestyles, while Jones won both the 1- and 3-meter diving competitions.
The women said they were proud of their ability to overcome their clear lack of numbers to get the win.
“They had sheer numbers against us,” Erin Carlstrom ’05 said. “We were fighting to get first and second, first and third a lot. We led by only five, six points the whole meet.”
The annual trip to Puerto Rico is meant to be extremely intense. Both the men and women swam 15,000-20,000 meters daily in two practices. But even the rookies recognized that the training has put the swimmers in a good place.
“The training trip was a new experience,” Nicole Swaney ’08 said. “It was really tough and really tiring, but it got me in shape. I’d never experienced anything quite like it.”
With the most important meets of the season coming up and the toughest work behind them, both the men and women feel like they are ready to compete.
“Everybody’s up, both guys that raced [at Maine] and the others, and itching to race,” Lange said. “This is the best part of the year, where we get to see what we have against the rest of the Ivy League. We’re pretty optimistic and ready to roll.”
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