Both men’s and women’s swimming and diving opened their seasons with strong performances in New York this past weekend, but only one of the squads left the pool victorious.
The men’s team suffered a close 151–149 loss to Columbia on the last event of the meet, while the women dominated the Lions 199–101, winning every event until the last two.
The men’s meet came down to the 400-yard free relay, with Yale needing to take first and third at the least in order to leave New York victorious. Columbia coach Jim Bolster settled on losing the battle in order to win the war: he split up members of his top relay squad, creating two more balanced squads capable of shutting the Bulldogs out for the second and third places. His strategy worked — although the Bulldogs won the event, the Lions placed second and third, securing their overall victory.
“It was disappointing to lose by so few points,” diver Eric Olson ’11 said. “But this is the start of the season and only a dual meet — we play Columbia again in the Ivies and we’ll be a much better team by then.”
Yale started out the meet strong with a one-two finish by Drew Teer ’10 and Olson in the three-meter boards, giving the Elis a commanding 15–4 lead after the first event. This lead, however, was short-lived: Columbia responded quickly with a one-three finish in the 200-yard medley relay, a win in the 200-yard freestyle, and a one-two finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. Even with Bulldog wins coming from Matt Lee ’11, captain Tom Robinson ’10 and Scott Shinton ’12 in the 1,000-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard butterfly, respectively, and a two-three finish from Lugar Choi ’11 and Kyle Veatch ’11 in the 200-yard freestyle, Columbia held a slight lead, 78–72, heading into the second diving event.
When Columbia took first and second place in the 1-meter boards, widening their lead to 91–78, the Blue finally woke up and seized the momentum.
“When we fell behind halfway through the meet we knew we had to make a comeback,” Olson said. “We did, and now realize that we can step it up when we need to and be competitive.”
To start the comeback, Veatch and Choi again went two-three in the 200-yard freestyle and Robinson continued his domination with a win in the 200-yard backstroke by recording a time of 1:50.98. A pair of two-three finishes helped keep Yale in striking distance of the Lions. Lee’s win in the 500-yard freestyle, his second win of the day, coupled with Goksu Bicer’s ’12 win in the 100 -yard butterfly, gave Yale back-to-back victories that propelled them into the final event with a strong chance of overall victory. Unfortunately for the Yale, their victory in the 400-yard free relay was not enough.
All three players interviewed said they were discouraged by the loss but acknowledged that there were certainly some positives that came from Saturday’s close contest.
“Our last half was strong so we know we can close out a meet,” Lee said. “Now we just have to focus on staying out of the hole from the start. If we can start strong and stay strong, we will be tough to beat.”
Despite the loss, Robinson mentioned how proud he was of the team coming together this early in the season.
“We did considerably well considering what we had lost,” he said. “Yale had the best class of senior swimmers in the Ivy League last year, and the freshman did a great job stepping up on Saturday.”
The women’s swimming and diving team decided their outcome long before the final event, dominated Columbia early and often and finishing with a 199-101 win. Led by senor Susan Kim ‘10 and freshman Alex Forrester ’13, the Bulldogs appeared to leave everything on the table, breaking five pool records in the process.
“We lost to Columbia last year but this is a new team with young talent,” Kim said. “Meets with Columbia are usually exciting and close, so we wanted to come out with a fresh dynamic start.”
The women’s diving team was especially strong, as it swept both the one-meter and three-meter. Rachel Rosenberg ’12, Lisa Andrekovich ’12 and Paige Meneses ’13 placed in the top three for both, with Rosenberg winning both events while Andrekovich and Menses each took a turn in second and third.
The Bulldogs will travel to Boston next weekend to compete at the Terrier Invite.