Saturday’s meet against Lehigh was more than another scheduled matchup. In the wake of Friday’s tragic car accident, the event was a chance for the Yale men’s (7-0) and women’s (6-1) swimming and diving teams to pay tribute to their fellow former athletes.
“We decided to swim against Lehigh as a way to bring our lives back to some type of normalcy and as a way to honor those athletes that passed away in the accident,” said captain Greg Palumbo ’03. “It was extremely difficult for us, but the team did a good job considering the circumstances.”
Distance freestyler Heidi Kraus ’03, sprinter Nicoletta Ruhl ’06, breaststroker Susan Cooke ’03,and butterflyer Greta Mazner-Gore ’06 helped the women cruise to a 197-106 win, with two individual victories each. In the men’s 181-119 triumph, Alex Nash ’04 and Jack Cooney ’04 were both double winners. Though both teams emerged victorious, their thoughts were clearly elsewhere.
“It was the quietest bus ride home I have ever had,” said head coach Frank Keefe.
With renewed focus, the teams concluded their nonconference and home schedule on Wednesday against Army. In the most significant training stretch of the season, however, a mid-week meet was not going to interfere with their workout.
“We had to get 6,500 yards in,” Keefe said.
Thus, those participating in the first half of the meet swam their event and then hit the practice pool for a workout, while those swimming in the second half swam the workout first. The strategy was successful, as both teams won — the men, 162-79, and the women,166-72.
“A win against Army is a great final home meet for the team and for the seniors,” said Kraus.
Now, the Yale swimmers and divers turn their attention to the their double-dual meet Ivy League schedule. First up: Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania tomorrow — perhaps a more difficult meet for both teams than originally expected.
“Penn should be a good meet for us,” captain Catey Bradford ’03 said. “They are a very strong team again this year, and we should definitely be challenged by them. We’ll really need everyone to swim well in order to win.”
Though they approach this meet as a tuneup for H-Y-P, this weekend Yale swimmers and divers — in the unfamiliar role of underdog — will be taking nothing for granted.