Perennial powers Harvard, Princeton and Yale battled it out for best in the Ivy League on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the women’s swimming Ivy League Championships in Cambridge, Mass. Although the Elis finished in third place behind the Tigers and the Crimson — the same place Yale earned in last year’s championships — the Bulldogs were much closer this year: They tallied 1,350 points in the meet — only 88 behind Harvard and 115 behind Princeton — after having fallen to the two teams by 296 and 545.5 points, respectively, in 2009.
Susan Kim ’10 and Alex Forrester ’13 led the Bulldogs with a combined five individual event victories and each qualified for the NCAA Championships.
“We wanted to show [Harvard and Princeton] without a doubt that we are a better Yale team than they have ever seen, that we are here to compete and fight for the championship,” Kim said. “Everything came together this weekend. Princeton and Harvard were taking us seriously. It really was a battle.”
The final day of the championship meet consisted of preliminaries in the morning, followed by finals in the evening. The highlight of the prelims was Kim’s dominant performance in the 200-yard breaststroke, as she smashed her own Ivy League record of 2:12.17 with a time of 2:09.38. Not only did she set meet, Ivy League and pool records, but she also earned her first ever NCAA A cut. Spots in the NCAA tournament are awarded either as A cuts, which guarantee automatic bids to the championships, or as B cuts, which mean a swimmer will be given consideration for a spot in the NCAAs.
“Making NCAAs with A-cuts has been a goal all year,” she said. “Now I’ve got a few weeks left to improve a bit more. Alex Forrester and I want compete there, not just participate. We are certainly looking forward to representing Yale and the Ivy League at the highest levels.”
The 1,650-yard freestyle kicked off the evening finals. Due to its length, the event is not raced during the preliminary round, and is not part of the regular dual meet season. Yalies Annie Killian ’11, Abigail Nunn ’12 and Margaret Brown ’13 placed eighth, 11th and 16th, respectively. Molly Albrecht ’13, Athena Liao ’12, Hayes Hyde ’12 and Ileana Lucos ’11 all earned NCAA B cuts in the finals, while Kim took 0.46 seconds off her record-breaking NCAA A-cut time from the morning in the 200-yard breastroke. Forrester also dropped time off her morning’s swim, finishing first in the 200-yard butterfly — her third individual event win of the meet.
Yale proved successful on the diving front, as well. Paige Meneses ’13 earned second in the one-meter event with a score of 253.55, and Rachel Rosenberg ’12, who had won the three-meter event Friday, finished behind Meneses, in sixth.
The Elis were already out of competition for first place heading into the last event of the championship, the 400-yard freestyle relay, but the team of Forrester, Dominski, Tsay and Joan Weaver ’13 took first with a time of 3:20.59, getting an NCAA B cut.
The Bulldogs, who started the final day of the three-day meet in third place, could not make up enough points to catch Princeton or Harvard. Penn, who finished with only 904.5 points, was the next closest team to Yale.
“Even though we came in third, like last year, it was a different kind of third,” said Lucos. “We were a force to be reckoned with.”
The Bulldogs have high hopes looking ahead to next season, Hyde said.
“Next year will be very exciting,” she said. “We only have a few seniors, whom we will miss, but the majority of the team will be returning. With a strong returning team and new recruits, we will definitely grow a lot.”
The NCAA Championships begin March 18 at Purdue University.