SWIMMING | Swimmers nab second at UVA

It was a challenging weekend for the men’s and women’s swimming teams, but the Elis got through it just fine.

The women took second at the University of Virginia Invitational on Dec. 4-6, scoring 817 points to UVA’s 1335. The men’s team also took second place at the invitational, scoring 733 points to No. 13 UVA’s 1447 points, despite competing without three of their top swimmers — captain Alex Righi ’09, Chris Pool ’09 and Dennen McCloskey ’09, who competed at the U.S. Short Course Nationals in Atlanta the same weekend.

At Rutgers University, the diving team competed in the Galbraith Invitational in a non team scored meet. Rachel Rosenberg ’12 finished at the top for the Elis, placing seventh in the 3-meter diving event finals with a score of 231.25. In the one-meter diving event, she finished in eight place with a score of 213.99. Eric Olson ’11 led the men’s team in the 3-meter diving event with a score of 245.13 while Drew Teer ‘10 led the 1-meter event for the Bulldogs with a ninth place finish, 236.40.

At the national meet, which included Olympian gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Matt Grevers, the three seniors were able to hold their own and record impressive performances. Righi was able to come away with an A-cut in the 50-yard freestyle after posting a third-place finish (19.13) in a race that included Grevers, a two-time gold medalist and a silver medalist in this year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

The cuts are certain times the swimmers must reach in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships. An A-cut gets an automatic spot in the meet. Since there are usually 30 to 40 swimmers in each event at the championship meet, the rest of the spots are filled with the fastest B-cut teams.

Righi also took fifth place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 42.31, which was good enough for a B-cut and just .05 seconds off from an A-cut, as well as fifth place in the 100-yard backstroke (47.34). Despite the impressive performance, Righi says he still has a lot of work to do.

“My one major goal going into the meet was to get an NCAA A-cut,” Righi said. “I accomplished that, so it was a successful meet. But realize that I have a significant amount of work to do before the NCAA Championships in late March in order to accomplish my goals there.”

McCloskey, who has been competing at the national meet since high school, took 22nd overall in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 3:58.40, despite being seeded 26th coming into the meet. Teammate Pool also put up an impressive performance in the 100-yard butterfly, putting up a preliminary time of 47.92, while finishing in the finals with a time of 48.80 for 22nd place overall. He also competed in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing with a time of 1:47.13, just missing the B-cut time of 1:46.55.

Pool attributes his performance to feeling more comfortable on the bigger stage after competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer with Righi.

“As soon as we landed in Atlanta I started focusing on racing fast. Dennen, Alex and I fed off of each other’s successes. The attitude at the meet was very positive,” he said.

And positive was all McCloskey could feel.

“I really shocked myself. I swam two best times, an in-season best time, and I had a night swim. I can’t complain,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. So this meet in general was very encouraging.”

457 miles away, the men’s and women’s team were competing at the University of Virginia Invitational.

On the men’s side, the second-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay was the highest for the Bulldogs. The team, which included Kyle Veatch ’11, Goksu Bicer ’12, Tyler Scheid ’09 and Lugar Choi ’11, finished in a time of 3:06.61. The highest individual finisher at the meet was Scheid with a fourth place finish in the 200-yard butterfly, 1:50.58.

“I thought the rest of the team did well at UVA,” Righi said. “Many people swam competitively against one of the best collegiate swimming programs, so that was a major positive.”

For the women, the team struggled against a heavily stacked UVA team.

“The competition at the University of Virginia was challenging,” captain Aidan McKinlay ’09 said. “UVA has a very strong team that is comparable to Princeton in the Ivy League. Our main goal going into the meet was for each individual on the team to swim a season-best time. Considering that we did not rest very much for this meet, everyone’s overall performance was phenomenal.”

McKinlay noted Susan Kim’s ’10 and Hayes Hyde’s ’12 performances as particularly impressive. Both broke Yale records — Kim in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:15.13) and Hyde in the 200-yard butterfly (2:00.94). And Kim’s performance in the 200-yard breaststroke was particularly notable because her time put her just 0.40 seconds away from a B-cut, and a possible spot in the NCAA championships. It was also the only first-place finish for the Elis at the meet.

“For these individuals and their teammates to be swimming lifetime bests at this point of this season builds confidence,” McKinlay said. “With appropriate rest, I project that our team will perform at the end of the season at a higher level than we have in years.”

For the break, both teams will head to Puerto Rico for intense training before heading back to compete against Cornell and Navy in Ithaca, N.Y., for their next competition Jan. 9-10.

“It sounds like a wonderful time on a tropical island but we will be working hard: two workouts a day for nine days straight,” Pool said. “Life down there is essentially eat, sleep, swim, maybe go to the beach every now and then. After going to UVA and the National meet, we know what kind of work we have to put in to swim with the best. The team is swimming well right now and we are all looking forward to Puerto Rico as an opportunity to swim to our full potential.”

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