In the literal sense, Kiphuth Pool is no bigger than any pool Fairfield swimmers are accustomed to, but in Friday’s dual meet with the Yale men’s swimming and diving team, it must have seemed that way. And on Saturday in Hanover against Dartmouth and Penn, Yale once again proved themselves to be the bigger fish.
Over the weekend, Yale (7-2, 3-2 EISL) followed up a 201-56 win over Fairfield (1-8) with a dominant performance at Dartmouth, posting a 172-71 win over the Big Green (0-7, 0-7) and a 159-84 win over the Quakers (6-6, 1-5). Saturday, diver Jeff Lichtenstein ’08 set a new Yale record 3-meter dive on his way to winning both the 3-meter and 1-meter events. Alex Righi ’09 set a pool record in the 100-yard backstroke, and also took the 50 free. Dennen McCloskey ’09 posted three first place finishes, in the 1000 and 500 freestyles, and the 200-yard individual medley.
Although Fairfield is a weak regional opponent and Dartmouth and Penn are currently holding down the bottom of the conference, the Elis had no trouble finding motivation for the weekend’s meets. Veteran breaststroker Colin O’Brady ’06 said the weekend’s events and dual meets with Harvard, Princeton and Brown two weeks from now are some of the last opportunities to post times to make the 17-member team that will represent Yale at the EISL Championship. Those not competing in Easterns will have the opportunity to end the season strong at the ECAC Championship.
“This is a pretty important time of the season for us,” he said.
Since getting back from break, the team has been training exceptionally hard for the end-of-season meets and is working well amongst itself.
“Team unity is high,” said Righi. “We’re looking strong as a team, meshing well, and we’re all working off each other.”
The goal of the meets against weaker opponents was to reach season-best times and post victories. 12 individuals managed to take their events against Fairfield, while Andrew Foss ’07 (200 free), Chris Pool ’09 (200 fly), and Geof Zann ’07 (200 back) joined Lichtenstein, Righi, and McCloskey in winning at Dartmouth.
The 400 medley relay team of Righi, O’Brady, Ben Dzialo ’07, and Pool also managed a first place showing. It was in this race that Righi shattered the nearly two-year-old pool record for the 100 back, posting a 49.57. The former record, owned by Cornell’s Stefano Caprara, was 50.20.
Adding a huge boost in both meets, as they have all season, was the diving trio of Lichtenstein, Pat Hayden ’08, and Doug Scott ’08. Making up the entirety of the men’s diving team, these sophomores swept both boards on Friday. Lichtenstein won both events on Friday and Saturday. Scott took third in the 1-meter and second in the 3-meter on Saturday.
Besides helping out in the point standings in dual meets, Lichtenstein said he believes the divers give the team a mental edge.
“When we do well, it definitely helps out psychologically,” he said. “The swimmers have told me that it helps them get up for the meet.”
Although he didn’t know it until well after the meet, Lichtenstein had scored better in two of the six dives, the reverse and the back, than he ever had before. This personal marks lead to the Yale-record 344.75 in the 3-meter dive, almost 45 points ahead of Scott, the second place finisher.
“All the pieces that we’ve all been practicing finally lined up, although it didn’t feel that special at the time,” Lichtenstein said of his record-breaking dives.
Yale coaches hope something special will arise out of two upcoming weeks of hard practice before meets versus Ivy League opponents Harvard, Princeton and Brown.
“As our coaches say, once we get to Easterns, it’s anybody’s game,” said Righi, “We have a great opportunity to make some headway in the points standings from last year.”
Now at 7-2, Yale hopes to go 3-0 in the upcoming meets to show tougher Ivy League competition that it belongs in the bigger pond with the best teams in the East.