On Friday, the women’s swimming and diving team opened its regular season at Columbia with a 177-123 loss. The Lions decisively defeated the Elis, winning 10 of the 16 events that were held. But despite the early setback, team members did not seem to be worried.

“Columbia always swims very well early in the season, but they don’t swim much faster at the end of the season,” captain Amy Hancock ’04 said. “We, on the other hand, swim a little faster each time we race.”

The Bulldogs have been training extremely hard all fall, swimming roughly 50 miles a week over a span of eight practices. Only after their team qualifier, held at the end of the October, did the team begin short-course training in preparation for their meets. Many team members cite the difference between their training regimen and what the Columbia team does to prepare for dual meets as the reason for the loss.

“Last year, Columbia began a tradition of being shaved and rested for our dual meet, which teams traditionally do only for championships at the end of the season,” Paige Harazin ’04 said. “That gives them a huge automatic advantage.”

Veteran diver Kathleen McKeon ’04 echoed her teammates’ lack of concern for the early loss.

“The way the Columbia team trains, they go fast early in the year, but they won’t go any faster later in the year,” McKeon said. “I’m sure this year will be a repeat of last year when we lost to them at the dual meet in November, but then we killed them at the Ivy Championships.”

Last season’s results corroborate McKeon’s sentiments. Last November, in what was also the first dual meet for both teams, the Lions beat the Bulldogs by a score of 182-117.5, winning 12 of the 16 events — an even greater margin of victory than that of Friday’s meet. But at the Ivy League Championship meet, held three months later, the Bulldogs soundly defeated Columbia by a score of 513 to 384.

Despite the loss, several Bulldogs swam extremely well. Harazin ’04, a first-team All-Ivy swimmer last year, led the Bulldogs with victories in two individual events. She won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 0:51.87 and the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:53.90. She also anchored the victorious 400-yard freestyle relay squad. The other Eli winners were Becca Knicely ’05 in the 100-yard butterfly (0:58.61), Moira McCloskey ’07 in the 200-yard backstroke (2:04.02) and Melanie Loftus ’05 in the 3-meter diving competition (259.275). Loftus’ victory was especially impressive, in light of the fact that the divers had to practice for several weeks without a 3-meter board.

The meet also showcased the strength of the class of 2007. Aside from her victory in the 200-yard backstroke, McCloskey also placed second in the 100-yard backstroke and was the leadoff swimmer on the victorious 400-yard freestyle relay team. Cristina Hession ’07 placed second in the 1000-yard freestyle, third in the 500-yard freestyle and was also a member of the 400-yard freestyle relay team. All told, eight freshmen gained points for the Bulldogs on Friday.

“The entire class of ’07 performed really well, which is especially noteworthy since this was their first ever Ivy League meet,” Harazin said.

The Bulldogs compete next weekend at the University of Maryland Invitational. “People are very excited for the meet,” Hancock said. “Maryland has a really fast pool and the Invite will provide a lot of great competition.”

Knicely added that the meet has the added benefit of allowing the team to acclimate to a different competitive format.

“This meet is a great opportunity for the team to get used the 3-day conference meet format with prelims and finals,” Knicely said.

In terms of what needs to change in order for the team to win, team members were adamant in expressing that everything that the team needs to win is already there.

“Nothing whatsoever [needs to change],” Harazin said. “We have a winning team, and all we need to do is keep our focus and move onto the next challenge.”