It took the best swimmers in the country to finally stop Alex Righi ’09.
The fastest men in collegiate swimming converged on Atlanta, Ga., last weekend for the NCAA Championships. Righi was among them as Yale’s lone representative, competing in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and the 100-yard backstroke. Though he posted Yale record times and was the fastest swimmer from the Ancient Eight — and from the entire Northeast in the 50 free — Righi did not place higher than fifteenth in any event.
Competition began for the Yale standout Thursday morning with preliminaries for the 50 free. Righi’s time of 19.82 set a new Yale record, barely topping the 19.83-second team record he set three weeks before at Easterns. But even a record pace was not enough to overcome tough competition, and Righi finished the morning in 26th, too low to go on to the evening’s finals. The nearest Ivy competitor, seasonlong foe and Harvard senior David Cromwell, placed 52nd.
Friday saw Righi compete in the 100 back. His morning time was in the top 16, good enough to qualify for finals, but he did not live up to his 13th seed, placing 16th overall.
Righi finished up his inaugural season with the 100 free on Saturday, in which he placed 15th.
Righi, named Male High School Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine last summer, met expectations this year, leading the Bulldogs throughout the season. He posted the only Eli win of the H-Y-P meet, in the 100 free, and notched two victories during an otherwise bleak EISL Championships. Righi set new Yale records in all three events he competed in at the NCAA Championships, breaking a 12-year old record in the 100 free in the process.
Righi’s teammates said his performance as a rookie bodes well for next season.
“He went down there with best times and was able to improve on every single one of them,” Mike Slater ’07 said. “I don’t see why he can’t do that again in the future.”