SWIMMING | Elis shatter eight records, but place fourth at Ivies

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Photo by Brianne Bowen.

Fourth place at the Ivy League championships does not tell the whole story of the 2011-’12 men’s swimming and diving team.

At the Ivy League championships in Princeton, N.J., from March 1-3, Yale’s 678.5 points were not enough to top Princeton’s (7–0, 8–0 Ivy) 1,049.5 points, Harvard’s (6–1, 6–2 Ivy) 944 points or Columbia’s (4–3, 7–4 Ivy) 715.5 points. Although the Bulldogs (5–2, 6–2 Ivy) earned the same fourth-place finish as last year, they broke eight school records, a clear indication of the team’s continued improvement.

“It was happy but bittersweet,” Mike Dominski ’13 said, “We were very happy with the team performance, [but] we were disappointed we didn’t get third.”

While Dominski said the Elis had hoped to place in the top three in the Ivy League, Andrew Heyman ’15 explained the Ivy League as a whole is improved from last year. Four teams from the Ivy League will be represented at the NCAA championships, a greater number than in recent years, Heyman said. Although Yale will not send any swimmers to the NCAA championships, members of the team point toward an improved dual season record as a sign of a successful season. Yale’s record jumped from 2–5 last year in the Ivy League to 5–2 this year.

The swimmers also smashed eight school records — in the 500-yard freestyle, the 1,000-yard freestyle, the 200-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breastroke, the 200-yard breastroke, the 800-yard freestyle relay, the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley.

The Bulldogs beat times that had been the standard for 20 or 30 years, Rob Harder ’15 said. The sheer number of school records broken is rare, even for the Ivy League championships, Heyman said, when swimmers taper to achieve faster times.

“Hopefully [the broken records] will attract further recruits as we enter into the buliding stage and try to break into the top thre in the Ivy League,” Harder said.

Dominski added that he cannot remember another meet in his Yale career that contained as many broken records.

Harder had a strong individual meet and placed second in all three of his events. He broke the school record of 4:24.81 in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:20.66 and the record of 9:07.43 in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:04.64, and then continued his strong performance with a time of 15:17.50 in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

“That’s a pretty impressive performance by a freshman,” Dominski said of Harder’s effort. Fellow freshman Alwin Firmansyah ’15 placed third in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:47.17, which took down a school record of 1:43.31. He also placed third in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:46.21.

On March 9-10, Rachel Rosenberg ’12 represented Yale in the Zone Diving Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., but did not place high enough to receive a bid to nationals. Rosenberg took 10th on 1-meter with a score of 483.75 (final scores at the Zone Diving Championship combine scores from the preliminary and final rounds) and sixth on 3-meter with a score of 563.25.

“I had a decent meet, but the goal was to get first or second on 3-meter,” Rosenberg said, “[so] I certainly wasn’t happy about it.”

She added that if she had performed dives, such as her reverse two-and-a-half, to her fullest potential, she would have been in contention to place in the top two spots and qualify for nationals.

Rosenberg still retires after a phenomenal final season at Yale. She won first on the 3-meter at every dual meet, placed first on the 3-meter at Ivy League championships and scored top 10 finishes in both the 1- and 3-meter events at the Zone Diving Championships.

This year’s strong freshman and sophomore classes, as well as a promising group of recruited swimmers, gives the swimming and diving teams hopes for an improved season next year.

“There were many school records broken [in the past], but not by a majority of freshman,” Dominksi said. “That’s good for next season and the upcoming years. This freshman class has a chance to do a lot.”

Heyman called the record-breaking at the Ivies an indication of a “change in culture the team’s going through” for the men’s team that could break the Elis into the top tier of Ivy League swimming and lead them to place higher in coming years.

On the women’s team, Alexander Forrester ’13 competed last weekend at NCAA Championships in Auburn, Ala. The highlight of the meet was her performance in the 100-yard butterfly. She headed into the meet seeded 16th, but finished an impressive sixth overall. Her time of 51.93 bested her own Yale record of 52.35.

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