Without a doubt, this weekend will be the most exciting weekend for the Yale men’s swim team this season. Not only are they on the road, but the Elis are on the road to square off against both No. 23 Harvard and No. 25 Princeton.
In their last meet on Jan. 24, the Bulldogs pulled off an impressive performance against Penn and Dartmouth at Philadelphia, winning 10 of the 14 events. Captain Alex Nash ’04 and Jack Cooney ’04 combined for five top finishes across the backstroke, freestyle, and butterfly sprint events in addition to the 200-yard individual medley.
“It is always great to win a lot of events,” Nash said. “But the way the scoring is organized, you can win 10 out of 14 events and still lose the meet. It is really important to get a lot of seconds and thirds.”
But it might not be easy even to get second and third place this weekend — Harvard and the Princeton are ranked in the top 25 in the country. The Crimson is well-rested after its last win over No. 21 ranked North Carolina on Jan. 10. Their star sophomore David Cromwell had four wins for the Cantabs and will match up against Nash at the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke races, while leading the Crimson’s medley relay team off the block.
Meanwhile, Princeton defeated Dartmouth 167-114 on Jan. 25, a day after the Bulldogs’ own victory against the Big Green. In addition to being ranked among the top 25, the Tigers boast 12 swimmers who are nationally ranked in the CollegeSwimming.com Top 100.
Princeton displays depth and all-around dominance in the league. The Tigers have three swimmers from each of the four classes and senior Juan Valdivieso was one of Princeton’s double winners against Dartmouth. Yale’s Nash and Jimmy Veazey ’04 will have to overcome Valdivieso in the 100-yard butterfly.
But the Elis are sure they will put up a decent challenge, despite all the odds that might seem against them. Cooney, who will be representing the Bulldogs in 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard individual medley, has a lot of confidence in both himself and his teammates.
“Harvard-Yale-Princeton is going to be our toughest challenge of the dual-meet season.” Cooney said. “But both teams [Harvard and Princeton] are vulnerable this year due to graduated stars and current major contributors taking leave to train for the Olympic trials.”
For the rookies on the Yale team, this weekend also marks their first HYP event and a taste of what Ivy-League swimming is all about.
“Excited — that is the only one word to describe how I feel right now,” Geof Zann ’07 said. “[The HYP meet] will be the fastest meet the freshmen have ever been to since coming to Yale, and it is going to be breathtaking.”
Zann will swim in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke as Yale’s No.2 behind Nash.
The HYP weekend will commence this Friday night at the DeNunzio Pool located in Jadwin Gymnasium at Princeton.
“[This weekend] is a physically and emotionally taxing weekend, and if we want to come out of it with a win or two, we are going to have to bring our best.” Cooney said.