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Half a second. That’s all that stood between the Elis and victory in seven events during Saturday’s meet against Dartmouth and Penn.

The women’s swimming and diving team (7-2, 2-2 Ivy) had a busy weekend, dominating Fairfield (5-7) 182-89 on Friday at home and then traveling to Hanover, N.H., where the Bulldogs beat the Big Green (2-5, 1-5), 221-79, but fell to the Quakers (6-4, 3-4), 151.5-148.5. The Elis won seven events outright on Saturday but lost too many close races to beat Penn.

Though Yale participated in two meets this past weekend, much of the team was as well-rested as they could be for any meet this time of year. Friday’s Fairfield meet saw plenty of Bulldogs swimming off-events and many of the next day’s standouts not participating at all.

The Stags were not expected to bring much competition to the table, but the Bulldogs stepped up anyway, winning all the events. The last two events were not scored for the Elis due to their significant margin of victory.

“I think people surprised themselves,” Caroline Dowd ’08 said. “They got personal best times without any competition.”

Even before the Penn/Dartmouth meet, team members said they knew it would be close.

“Basically on paper we mirrored each other with respect to times and events,” Moira McCloskey ’07 said.

Yale’s wins included the 200-yard medley relay team of McCloskey, Marilee Kiernan ’09, Meg Gill ’07 and Alexis Mann ’09. Both McCloskey and Mann won events on their own — McCloskey in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events and Mann in the 50-yard freestyle. That race saw Elis in both first and second place as Gill narrowly missed out to Mann. The two flipped positions in the 100-yard freestyle, and they were joined by yet a third Bulldog, Chase Butler ’07. Ali Jones ’08 won the 1-meter diving competition in between the two freestyle sprints.

Jones is a Staff Reporter for the News.

Kiernan earned the Yale women’s last win of the day in the 200-yard breaststroke.

But for all the team’s successes, the Quakers hung onto their lead throughout the meet. The Elis began the meet with lackluster results, but turned the corner with the 50-yard freestyle. After five consecutive Yale wins, Penn held the Bulldogs to four second place finishes in a row. The margin of victory in those last four events never reached three-quarters of a second.

The recent history of the Yale-Penn match-up has been mixed. In January 2004, Yale won by just one point, but in 2005 the margin was considerably wider — 99 points wider to be exact. For at least the last five years Yale had not fallen to the Quakers, a fact that weighed heavily on the team after the meet.

“We were disappointed that we lost to Penn,” Mann said. “We thought we could have won the meet.”

This Saturday’s loss was not for lack of trying.

“I guess the most frustrating part of the meet was in the close races — we just weren’t getting our hands to the wall fast enough,” McCloskey said. “We dominated some races, and Penn dominated some, but in the close races we just didn’t win them.”

After a weeklong break, Yale will travel to Cambridge, Mass., to take on the Cantabs and Princeton Tigers on Feb. 4 and 5 in the H-Y-P, the annual meet between two titans of league swimming and the underdog Elis. Though there is little chance of Yale reaching above third place, the meet should give the swimmers a chance to see how far they have progressed this season.

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