This weekend, the women’s swimming team held its two-day team qualifier. With only two weeks left until the start of the season, the results from the qualifier will play a large role in determining which members of the team will travel to Columbia on Nov. 14 for the first dual meet.

Yale’s team qualifier was a slight change from the practices of previous years. Formerly, the Bulldogs held either a time trial or a Blue and White meet — an intrasquad meet. This year’s qualifier, which covered every individual championship event except for the 1650-yard freestyle, was aimed to motivate swimmers to perform well.

“[This format] is a little more interesting,” head coach Frank Keefe said. “It’s individuals trying to amass as many points as they can. Individual point scoring gives you something to do, a reason to wake up on Saturday morning.”

The meet was scored by comparing swimmers’ times to Yale record times, with bonuses awarded to swimmers who broke records. This format not only encouraged swimmers to swim their best to accumulate points to beat their teammates, but also allowed for a means of comparing the men’s and women’s teams. In fact, the male swimmer who amassed the most points this weekend, captain Alex Nash ’04, beat the female leader, rookie Cristina Hession ’07, by only one point.

While many freshmen competed in the University of Connecticut Invitational Scrimmage on Oct. 18, this was the first opportunity for the entire team to swim together in a competitive setting.

“This was a chance for the freshmen to see what the upperclassmen can do,” Keefe said. “It was their first chance to see the Alex Nashes, the Paige Harazins.”

Last year, Harazin ’04 received first- and second-team All-Ivy honors for the 200-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle relay, respectively.

Rounding out the top five swimmers from the qualifier after Hession and Harazin were Moira McCloskey ’07, Chase Butler ’07 and Kirsten Cartoski ’07.

“When you look down the list of results, you see freshman, senior, freshman, freshman,” Keefe said. “There’s a lot of freshmen; it’s an eye-opener.”

In addition to the freshmen, Yale will look toward its divers for support. Melanie Loftus ’05 and Kathleen McKeon ’04 were, respectively, first- and second-team All-Ivy last year. The divers also have a new leader in recently appointed head coach Ryan Moehnke.

“The divers — Melanie Loftus, Kathleen McKeon, Emily Cardy [’04] and Liz Foglesong [’07] — always make a tremendous contribution to the team, and we’re looking towards them to do it again this year,” Amy Hancock ’04 said.

Many Elis were pleased with their performances this past weekend, a fact that is especially meaningful given that the team was run-down after an extremely difficult autumn filled with intense training.

“I was very happy with how I did this weekend, considering how tired I felt,” McCloskey said. “I don’t really feel [that this weekend] can be an indicator of confidence since it wasn’t really a dual meet atmosphere and we were all broken down, but I don’t think that it hurt our original confidence.”

With the start of its season on the horizon, the team sounds ready to take on Columbia. Twenty-seven Elis will compose the team that races against the Lions, with approximately seven or eight swimmers staying home.

“Losing to them last year was really disappointing, and the team is really pumped up to race them again,” Hancock said. “It’s at Columbia this year, so we’re especially excited to take them on at their own pool.”

As for whether or not to be optimistic at this point, McCloskey wasted no words.

“I see no reason not to be,” McCloskey said.

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