At this weekend’s Ivy Championships, Eli swimmers turned in some record-breaking performances which, unfortunately, did not translate into team victory.
Yale finished fourth behind Princeton, Brown and host Harvard, respectively. The Bulldogs were over 250 points ahead of fifth place Columbia and only 101 points behind the victorious Tigers. But it was the showings of their top swimmers, led by Susan Cooke ’03, that highlighted the Championships for the Elis.
Cooke, who finished as the highest point scorer and was named swimmer of the meet, cemented her status as one of the fastest Bulldog swimmers of all time winning three events, breaking two Yale records and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“The next day when I saw what I swam in the 400 IM (4:17.58) I thought that the clock had malfunctioned,” Cooke said. “Being named swimmer of the meet, the Yale records and making NCAAs made all of the training hell worth it.”
Cooke was victorious on all three days of the event. Saturday in the 200-yard breaststroke, she finished a half second ahead of second-place finisher Chrissy Holland of Princeton. Friday, she blew away the rest of the field with a two and a half second victory in the 400-yard individual medley, setting a new Yale record with a time of 4:17.58. This time also earned her a spot in the NCAAs.
Cooke set the tone for her dominance on the first day of the Championships as she raced to a school record and the winner’s circle in the 200-yard individual medley in a time of 2:02.08.
Captain Emily Fain ’02 said she was impressed with the Eli junior’s performance, especially on Friday.
“We are usually a little weaker on the second day,” Fain said. “But this year we performed really well. Susan was amazing that day. She was the star of the meet.”
Heidi Kraus ’03 and Daphna Shafir ’04 also shined for the Bulldogs, in a competition where points were awarded for first through 16th place, with the winner receiving 20 and 16th receiving one.
Saturday, Kraus and her teammates crushed the competition in the 1650-yard freestyle. Kraus won by the sizeable margin of nearly 10 seconds in a time of 16:43.19. Allison Rogers ’05, Adrienne Mossler ’04, Laura O’Brien ’04 and Catey Bradford ’03 all placed in the top seven in the race to earn the Bulldogs a host of points.
“One of the most exciting moments was when we placed five girls within the top seven of the 1650-freestyle,” Kraus said. “For me, winning the race was a moment I will never forget and knowing that four of my teammates were right behind me makes me so proud.”
Kraus also raced to a second place finish and a school record in the 1000-yard freestyle, a new addition to the Ivies this year. Kraus’ time of 10:01.83 was only 1.20 seconds behind Tiger Valeria Kukla.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Shafir posted a strong showing as she placed second in a school record of 2:03.15 behind Brown’s Judy Koonstra.
Despite the Elis strong individual showings, the squad struggled in the relays. In the five relay races, in which teams earned double the points of individual races, Yale recorded one third, two fifths, one sixth and one eighth place finishes.
In diving, Yale’s Melanie Loftus ’05 and Bates Gregory ’03 garnered 62 total points. Loftus took second and third in the 3-meter and 1-meter dives, respectively, while Gregory took fifth and fourth.
Despite finishing fourth overall, Kraus said that the team performed solidly.
“We beat both Brown and Harvard in the dual meet this season,” Kraus said. “So it was a little disappointing finishing behind them in the team points. Despite that, I feel that we had excellent individual performances.”
The Elis will look to take the momentum from the school records set at the Ivies into the ECAC Championships February 28 to March 2 in Pittsburgh.
Only seven Yale swimmers will travel to the ECACs.
“It will be very competitive and fast,” Fain said. “But I think our seven women who are going will be a dominant force. I expect to see them place in the top three.”