By Steven Siegel
At the end of Columbia’s dual meet victory over Yale Friday, the Uris Pool’s electronic scoreboard flashed “Columbia is on fire.” But given the eye-opening performance of Yale’s freshman class the next day against Maine and Southern Connecticut, the Lions’ fire may very well be extinguished come March.
The Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) opened their season with a 161-139 loss to the Lions (1-0, 1-0), winning only five of 16 events. But the next day, the Elis rebounded against the University of Maine (4-1) and Southern Connecticut State University (1-4), winning 186-110 and 219-75, respectively. Despite starting the season with an Ivy loss, team members said they were unconcerned and were particularly impressed with the freshmen.
Moira McCloskey ’07 turned in a winning time of 57.89 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke, more than two seconds better than the nearest competition. That race was followed immediately by Marilee Kiernan ’09 winning the 100-yard breaststroke by over three seconds.
The Bulldogs’ momentum continued into the 200-yard butterfly, with Blake Walsh ’09 and Liz Berger ’07 finishing first and second. Alexis Mann ’09 lost by less than a tenth of a second in the 50-yard freestyle, but Liz Foglesong ’07 was able to add another Yale win right after in the 1-meter diving competition.
McCloskey garnered her second win of the night in the 200-yard backstroke, but the tide turned in Columbia’s favor with a win in the 100-yard butterfly. Foglesong missed a dive to fall into second in the 3-meter competition, and the Lions extended their lead with after the 200-yard individual medley. Walsh led at the midpoint only to fall behind in the breaststroke and eventually finish second.
“We need to stay fresh for the second half,” McCloskey said. “We sort of fell off to Columbia. Normally second halves are our strong point.”
Wins against Columbia early in the season have proven elusive for the Elis. Last year saw a 177-123 Yale win, but the Bulldogs had dropped the two prior Yale-Columbia dual meets.
But the Bulldogs are consistently stronger by March. In last year’s Ivy Championships, Yale finished fourth with 980 points to Columbia’s sixth-place 746.
The Elis’ performance was particularly strong considering their recent training regimen.
“[Yale head coach] Frank [Keefe] works us really hard the first few weeks of the season — a lot of distance, a lot of yardage,” captain Holly Mazar ’06 said. “Our goal is not to beat Columbia, it’s to win at Ivies.”
Friday’s meet was not decided until the very end, but Saturday was anything but close. Team members said they were not surprised with the overall results, but they were still pleased with the team’s showing.
“Maine and Southern Connecticut aren’t our biggest competition, so it was really impressive to see our team get out there so fast with only competition from our teammates,” Christina Person ’09 said.
The Bulldog divers set the tone in the morning. Foglesong took first in the 1-meter, with Ali Jones ’08 coming in second. The pair flipped places in the 3-meter competition, with Rachel Litt ’08 adding a third-place finish.
Jones is a Staff Reporter for the News.
The swimmers’ domination was apparent from the first event, with the Eli 200-yard medley relay team leading from start to finish. The 1,000-yard freestyle was nothing more than a match between Megan Bailey ’06 and Walsh, who both outstripped the third place SCSU swimmer by six body lengths by halfway through the event. Bailey eventually won the race.
The Class of 2009 has already made its mark in Yale sports this fall, and women’s swimming is continuing the trend. On Saturday, Katie French ’09 won the 100-yard breaststroke, Mairen Foley ’09 took the 50-yard freestyle, Kiernan won the 200-yard breaststroke, and Laura Strittmatter ’09 narrowly won the 500-yard freestyle over fellow Eli Laura Aronsson ’08.