Swimmers run into first roadblock of 2006-’07

Old rivalries die hard, but they also make for exciting competition, which came as promised at a swim meet that brought together three of the oldest rivals in the country.

Despite strong individual performances, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ended their dual-meet season with tough losses to Princeton and Harvard. The women lost to the Tigers (192-127) and the Crimson (172-147), and the men placed third against Princeton (228-125) and Harvard (184-169). The Tigers won the meet overall on both sides by beating both Yale’s and Harvard’s teams.

Though they lost, the teams are very encouraged by the huge improvement from last year’s meet. At H-Y-P just a year ago, Princeton and Harvard dominated the pool and earned more than double the Bulldogs’ overall score. In contrast, swimmers said this year’s meet was full of strong races, as evidenced by relay records and personal best times.

Team members also said that the scores do not reflect the training and preparation leading up to the meet.

“I think we’re all really happy because swimming-wise, we were right up there with them,” Moira McCloskey ’07 said. “We had some tough losses during the meet, but we held our own against them.”

The women had extremely impressive races in the relays, beginning and ending the meet on a strong note. In the first event of the competition, the 200-yard medley relay, the Bulldogs showed the Tigers and Crimson that they were a force to be reckoned with. Their winning time of 1:43.73 was more than a second faster than the previous school record, set at last year’s Ivy League championships.

The Bulldogs continued their strong relay swims and almost broke another school record in the 400-freestyle relay, coming within tenths of the previous record, which has stood since 2001, when the team boasted extremely strong swimmers, including Meredith Bryarly ’01, an Olympic hopeful at the time. Because they finished four seconds ahead of Harvard’s second-place team and came so close to a record, the team is optimistic about even faster races in the upcoming championships, McCloskey said.

One of the standout individual performances of the meet came from Susan Kim ’10, who broke the school record in the 200-yard breaststroke event. In a sport where every hundredth of a second counts, Kim beat the 1998 record by an entire second.

“I was really excited because I wasn’t shaved and completely tapered for this meet, so I didn’t have too high expectations,” Kim said. “I just wanted to swim well and win some points for the team, so it was really surprising to get a personal best and break the school record.”

Team members said Princeton and Harvard’s diving teams posed a challenge for the Bulldogs. In addition to having two of the strongest diving teams in the league, they also have the biggest and deepest teams. While the Tigers have 10 divers on the team, the Bulldogs only have five, posing a challenge in terms of sheer numbers. Yale’s divers started their competition on a rough note with their top performances on the 1-meter coming from Marisa Poverman ’10 and Ali Jones ’08 in 10th and 11th place, respectively.

“We didn’t perform our best on Friday, and we just weren’t able to put in a dive like we needed to,” Jones said. “After feeling like we had not dived up to our potential, we came back stronger on Saturday. There’s definitely room for improvement.”

After the first day of competition, the men’s team held a narrow lead over Harvard, 94-92. The Bulldogs’ overall score was helped by three wins from Alex Righi ’09, who had first place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke and the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events. Tom Robinson ’10 also contributed to the point total by making up time on the last lap of the 200-yard backstroke to win the event.

Captain Geof Zann ’07 said the team was expecting a very high level of competition at this meet due to the format and the intensity that surrounds H-Y-P. Though they did not win, the fact that the team minimized the point difference, especially against Harvard, shows that the Bulldogs are in the best shape that they have been in for the past couple years, he said. Zann said that the winning times at the meet were at the international qualifying level, and they expect the competition to be at the same level at their upcoming Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League championships.

With its dual-meet season wrapped up, the team will be gearing up for the Ivy League and EISL conference meets, as well as the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships next weekend.

“This weekend was one of our best performances in all my four years at Yale, and it gave us a lot of confidence because we’re only going to be faster at Ivies,” captain Meg Gill ’07 said. “There’s going to be a high level of competition, and it’ll be an opportunity for us to step up and race ­— it’s our time to shine.”

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