Bulldogs continue to rule the pool

In last year’s Yale-Penn-Dartmouth tri-meet, the women’s swimming team pulled out its closest victory of the year, a 150.5-149.5 win over the Quakers. The Elis needed every last race they took, including a tie in the 100-yard freestyle between then-freshman Chase Butler ’07 and Penn’s All-Ivy swimmer Katie Stores, to eke out the dramatic win.

This time around, the Bulldogs showed a distinct aversion to drama.

Saturday, the Elis (8-0, 4-0 Ivy) dominated this season’s installment of the Penn-Dartmouth tri-meet, topping the Quakers (4-4, 3-4) 199.5-99.5 and more than tripling the score of the Big Green (1-6, 1-5), 228-71. The league meet came less than 24 hours after the Elis had demolished Fairfield (6-4), 188-55.

With the victories, the Bulldogs maintain their undefeated season and set up a showdown of the three remaining league unbeatens in next weekend’s tri-meet against Harvard and Princeton.

“We knew this would be our first challenge,” captain Caroline Stephenson ’05 said. “After the first few events, people swam well, and we knew we’d be fine.”

A foursome of double-winners led the Bulldogs, who took 12 of the 16 events Saturday. Moira McCloskey ’07 placed first in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes, winning the two events by more than five seconds combined. Nicole Swaney ’08 took the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, and Stephenson won the 200-yard distances in both the breaststroke and the individual medley.

Finally, Melanie Loftus ’05 swept the diving, winning both the 1- and 3-meter competitions. The diving corps of Loftus, Liz Foglesong ’07 and Ali Jones ’08 helped put the Elis in front early with strong performances on the boards.

The Bulldog swimmers wasted no time in following suit, with the team of McCloskey, Caroline Dowd ’08, Becca Knicely ’05 and Meg Gill ’07 taking first place in the 200-yard medley relay.

After a brief slip-up in the 1000-yard freestyle, the Elis got back on track with a pair of one-two finishes. Butler followed Swaney to the wall in the 200-yard freestyle — with both women beating the talented Penn duo of Stores and Jessica Aiello — and Christine Yurechko ’08 touching second behind McCloskey in the 100-yard backstroke.

The freshman backstroker would come up right behind McCloskey again in the 200-yard distance. All in all, the Elis swept the top spots in four races, and took two of the top three in six others.

The other Bulldog event winners were Gill in the 50-yard freestyle and Knicely in the 100-yard butterfly. Meanwhile, Butler repeated her performance of a year ago, tying Stores for a share in top honors in the 100-yard freestyle.

Several older team members said that the X-factor this season is confidence, especially for the talented class of 2008.

“The freshmen haven’t lost a meet in college,” Stephenson said. “It’s an amazing feeling for them, to be in races and know they’re going fast.”

Despite the large margins of victory, members of both the Quakers and the Big Green asserted that they were happy with their performances.

“We know Yale is a good team, and that they would be tough,” Stores said. “But we didn’t really prepare. Everyone swam well, we’re not disappointed — we’ve been training hard.”

Friday served as an apt prelude to Saturday’s action, with the 133-point margin of victory actually making the meet seem closer than it was. The Stags failed to pick up a single event victory. Laura Aronsson ’08, Katelyn Kane ’08, Allison Rogers ’05 and Jones all won two events each for the Bulldogs.

When the Elis host Harvard and Princeton next weekend, they have what is arguably their best chance in years to take the meet. The Tigers (4-2, 3-0) suffered from graduation, losing such strong swimmers as perennial Ivy distance queen Sarah Fraumann. In contrast, the Crimson (8-0, 5-0), much like the Elis, are a strong, young team hungry to end Princeton’s reign over the Ivy League.

Many onlookers have picked Harvard to emerge victorious this year, but the Bulldogs are not going to give up without a fight.

“I think we’ll do pretty well against Princeton, but Harvard’s really good,” Aronsson said. “But there’s always a shot, especially with us — this team.”

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