After a preseason full of preparation, the men’s and women’s swim teams finally got their feet wet over the weekend.
Both squads traveled to New York to compete against Columbia for their first meets of the season. The men started off strongly by defeating the Lions, 164-136, placing first in nine of the 16 events. The women lost the opener, 173-127, but still captured first place in five of their events.
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In the second meet of the weekend, the Bulldogs hosted Southern Connecticut State in their home opener at the Robert Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool. The men’s team dominated in a 144-72 victory, while the women’s team rallied from the loss Saturday to win 131-101.
The trip to Manhattan represented the only Ivy League dual meet for the Bulldogs until Jan. 12, when they face off against Cornell.
“Columbia has always been a very competitive meet, simply because both Yale and Columbia have been fairly evenly matched,” Alex Righi ’09 said. “We knew that to win we would have to get ahead in points early, and that’s what we did.”
In the Columbia meet, Righi — along with teammates Thomas Robinson ’10, Matt Sweitzer ’09 and Chris Pool ’09 — swam in the 200-yard medley race and nabbed first place with a time of 1:32.67. The win, which came early in the meet, was crucial to building strong momentum for the rest of the competition, Righi said.
“Robinson, Sweitzer, and Pool all swam really well and were committed to winning,” he said. “We were ahead the entire time and were able to win by a fair amount to start the meet off on the right foot.”
The combination of the four swimmers easily won the medley relay, and each of the four found similar success in their individual events over the weekend.
In his individual races — the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle — Righi continued to demonstrate why he is an Olympic Trial qualifier by easily bringing home a pair of wins.
Sweitzer also won the 100-yard breaststroke by finishing in 58.09, and Robinson came out on top in both the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke races with times of 51.43 and 1:51.20, respectively. Pool came in second in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly races.
Making an impact in one of his first meets, Matt Lee ’11 swam a 9:35.14 1,000-yard freestyle race to win first place.
The dive team gave the Bulldogs an early lead in the meet Friday, with diver Jeff Lichtenstein ’08 taking first in both the three-meter and one-meter dives. Yale dominated in the diving arena, placing in all three top spots in both dive events.
In the Southern Connecticut State meet, Lichtenstein again won — and broke school records — in both of his events.
“The three-meter requires more finesse and the one-meter more power,” Lichtenstein said.
The women’s team found less success in their first competition of the season, but came out Sunday with a strong performance to start the season 1-1. In the Columbia meet, the team fell behind early and struggled to catch up with the rest of the competition.
“I think we all learned how important the mindset was,” Ileana Lucos ’11 said. “Getting up and ignoring whoever won the race is something that needs to be worked on, but other than that everyone swam well and cheered each other on well.”
Rookies Lucos and Brittany Iacouzze ’11 showed their prowess by winning in three of the squad’s five first-place races. Lucos won the 200-yard butterfly event by over three seconds, with a time of 2:05.16. Iacouzze took first in the 500-yard and 1,000-yard freestyle races, winning by margins of over three seconds in both events.
Other first-place finishers included Alexis Mann ’09 in the 50-yard freestyle and Susan Kim ’10 in the 200-yard breaststroke.
In Sunday’s meet, the dive team made a stronger showing, winning the one-meter and three-meter dive events. Marisa Poverman ’10 and Ali Jones ’09 claimed the two first-place spots to boost the team’s overall points. Captain Caroline Dowd ’08 outperformed the competition by over eight seconds in winning her 200-yard breaststroke event.
Katelyn Kane ’08, Blake Walsh ’09 and Kristin Darwin ’11 also contributed to the win with first-place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard butterfly, respectively.
The meets over the weekend united the team in a competitive atmosphere for the first time this season, which helped motivate the swimmers, Iacouzze said.
“The team atmosphere and camaraderie is unbelievable,” she said. “There is nothing more motivating than looking on the side of the pool to see 15 of your teammates cheering you on. Those are the people who helped you get there, and you want nothing more than to do it for them.”
The men and women’s squads will both head to North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Nike Cup.