Swimming teams generally taper for big meets, training less and resting more so that they can race as fast as possible. The Yale women’s swimming team will taper for the HYP meet and Ivy League championship, meets that will be held several weeks from now — meaning the Bulldogs are supposed to get even better.
The Elis returned to league competition in a big way this weekend, posting a 174.5-124.5 win over Navy and a 205-94 throttling of Ivy rival Cornell in the tri-meet held Saturday in Annapolis. The Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) won half of the eight events competed en route to the double victory.
The 111-point victory over the Big Red (2-5, 1-4) is more than three times last year’s margin, when the Elis won 166-131. And the Midshipmen’s (10-1) loss is their first of the season.
“I think the team is really happy,” Megan Bailey ’06 said. “That we’re racing really well and we came off really strong. We’re right on track.”
Three Bulldogs led the way with a pair of wins each. Laura Aronsson ’08 won the 400- and 800-yard meter freestyler, Moira McCloskey ’07 took the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes, and Melanie Loftus ’05 swept the diving events, besting Cornell’s 2004 first team All-Ivy diver Kristin Rayhack in both the 1- and 3-meter competitions.
But despite the individual wins, team depth took center stage Saturday. Eli swimmers took at least two of the top five spots in every individual swimming event. Twice, Bulldog trios swept the top three spots in an event.
“We don’t really have any weaknesses,” Aronsson said. “Everyone contributes. Even though we’re small, we have a lot of strength.”
The highlight of the first half of the meet came in the 200-meter butterfly, when Liz Berger ’07, Tory Nelson ’07 and Katelyn Kane ’08 completed a Bulldog sweep.
The other major display of Eli power came just after the halfway point in three consecutive events. First, in the 200-meter backstroke, Christine Yurechko ’08 and Bailey came in just behind McCloskey for the second Bulldog sweep of the day. Captain Caroline Stephenson ’05 and Kirsten Cartoski ’07 hit the wall first and second in the 200-meter breaststroke. And Nicole Swaney ’08 followed classmate Aronsson to take second in the 400-meter freestyle.
The Bulldog performance is even more impressive considering the absence of Cristina Hession ’07. Hession, arguably the team’s strongest middle and long-distance freestyle swimmer, is taking this semester off from swimming. In addition, several members of the team were also sick, including Caroline Dowd ’08 and Kane.
But the Bulldogs did benefit from a return as well. Bailey, a backstroke and medley swimmer, suffered a partial tear of the biceps tendon of her shoulder weight lifting on the second day of practice this season, and returned to action for the first time the earlier this month against Maine. This weekend, Bailey placed third once and fifth twice, including her part in the 200-meter backstroke sweep.
“She swims a lot of events,” Aronsson said. “She’s key. She has a lot of versatility.”
Next up for the Elis is the Penn-Dartmouth tri-meet. Dartmouth (1-4, 1-3) is having a weak season, but Penn (3-3, 2-3), led by senior freestyler Katie Stores, may give the Bulldogs a challenge. Last year, the Elis eked past the Quakers by just one point, 150.5-149.5. Regardless, the Bulldogs seem very confident.
“I think coming off the win when everyone swam really fast, especially for this point in the season, we’re really motivated,” Holly Mazar ’06 said. “I don’t think it’s a question, we’re totally going to dominate.”