Take all the intensity of the Harvard-Yale sports rivalry. Add “that other school in New Jersey” swimming at home. Mix in three records at the very top of the Ivy League standings.
What you have is the most anticipated dual meet in Ivy League women’s swimming.
This weekend, the Elis and the Cantabs will trek down to Princeton for the annual HYP swim meet. The two-day meet holds half of the events on Saturday and the other half on Sunday. After an intense training season, most of the Eli swimmers have begun to taper off this week in order to be rested and hopefully put up their best times of the season.
Yale (6-2, 3-1 Ivy) will have its hands full. The Tigers (7-1, 4-0) had their 47-meet win streak cut short Jan. 5 against Pittsburgh but then rebounded with a strong victory against Dartmouth Jan. 25. Princeton has won the last four HYP meets. Last year, the Tigers beat Harvard and Yale by 79 and 115 points, respectively — a dominating performance.
The Crimson (6-0, 5-0) is not only unbeaten, but also untouched. Harvard has won all but one of its meets this season by more than 90 points. The Cantabs have also had the opportunity to rest since Jan. 10.
The meet will be the Elis’ toughest competition thus far, but that has been the theme of the season throughout the winter.
“The whole season has been a progression,” Yale head coach Frank Keefe said. “Penn was tougher than Lehigh. Lehigh was tougher than Cornell. Harvard and Princeton will be the hardest, and Brown could be even harder.”
While he admits the strength of the Crimson and the Tigers, Keefe by no means anticipates a one-sided meet.
“We’ve got good individuals: [Paige] Harazin [’04], [Moira] McCloskey [’07], [Cristina] Hession [’07], the divers,” Keefe said. “We’ll be in the thick of the competition; no one’s going to blow us away.”
Harazin was a member of the 2003 first team All-Ivy last year for the 200-yard freestyle. Rookies McCloskey and Hession have been dominant all season in the backstroke and distance freestyle events, respectively. Divers Melanie Loftus ’05 and Kathleen McKeon ’04 were first and second team All-Ivy, respectively, for the one-meter dive.
The Elis have also recovered slightly from the maladies and injuries that plagued them all season. Harazin returns this week after illness prevented her from competing against Penn and Dartmouth. Kirsten Cartoski ’07, the team’s fastest swimmer in the 100-yard breaststroke, will return this weekend after a month-long absence due to mononucleosis. Her return also frees up Caroline Stephenson ’05, one of the team’s top individual medley swimmers, who has been filling in for Cartoski at breaststroke.
All in all, the Bulldogs seem confident and ready to perform well this weekend.
“We’re probably the most confident [about the HYP] we’ve been since I was a freshman,” Harazin said. “Our team is very talented, and we’re looking forward to racing well.”
Also, while the meet will undoubtedly be stressful, there are elements of fun and excitement that come with such an important meet.
“The [HYP] meet is definitely fun,” captain Amy Hancock ’04 said. “There is a lot of team spirit, and everyone is very excited. And there is nothing more fun then swimming fast.”