It’s time for the Eli swimmers to get their feet wet in 2004.

This Friday and Saturday, the men’s and women’s swimming teams participated in the Bulldog Cup. The two-day event is an annual intrasquad contest meant to give the swimmers a chance to race and for the coaches to assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses as the season approaches.

“It’s a break; a chance to get them up and racing,” head coach Frank Keefe said. “They have to race in three weeks — we have to find out where people are.”

The overall winner was Cristina Hession ’07, with 336 points, edging her teammate Moira McCloskey ’07 by one point. Third was Caroline Dowd ’08 and fourth was Andrew Foss ’07, the top men’s scorer.

Each swimmer was allowed to choose two events, and the coaches selected two more. The meet is scored by comparing swimmers’ times to school records and meet records.

Coming off of last season, the women’s team lost 10 experienced swimmers from the class of 2004. The biggest loss for the women was Paige Harazin ’04, who owns the Yale record in the 200-yard freestyle, and was a mainstay on the relay teams. In the 200-yard butterfly, the Elis lost team record-holder Daphna Shafir ’04 and 2004 team captain Amy Hancock ’04, and the graduation of Laura O’Brien ’04 leaves a gap in the distance freestyle events.

But swimmers believe that this year’s team will be able to pick up the slack.

“It was a big hit regarding numbers — a huge class graduated,” McCloskey said. “We realize that, and we know we can step up.”

This weekend’s results should only reinforce the team’s faith in itself. Meet records were broken in 10 of the 13 events swum this weekend.

Highlighting the potential of the Eli squad was the performance of the underclassmen, who took the top nine women’s spots in this weekend’s meet.

The sophomore class showed that it is ready to step up into the void left by the class of ’04 by breaking eight meet records. Hession and McCloskey broke three each.

The class of 2008 also showed that it is capable of filling the holes in events that were hurt by graduation. Dowd broke meet records in both the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes and edged Hession and McCloskey by one-tenth of a second to win the 200 Individual Medley in record-breaking time. The combination of Dowd and Kirsten Cartoski ’07, who missed much of the 2003 season with illness, should give the Elis much more power in the breaststroke events.

Laura Aronsson ’08 won the 1000-yard freestyle, and looks to bolster the distance freestyle events along with fellow freshman Nicole Swaney ’08. Katelyn Kane ’08 performed well in a wide variety of events, and Christine Yurechko ’08 looks to add to the team’s depth in the backstroke after breaking the meet record in the 200-yard distance.

“I didn’t know how the freshmen were going to do,” captain Caroline Stephenson ’05 said. “I was really impressed with all of them. They’re all very versatile — a lot of them will help fill in the spots that the seniors left.”

The upperclassmen made some noise as well. Most notably, Yale record-holder in the 100-yard butterfly Rebecca Knicely ’05 won that event in meet-record time.

The women also add three divers to their already strong program. While the team loses Kathleen McKeon ’04, it still has Melanie Loftus ’05, Yale record-holder in the 3-meter and platform diving categories. The men also have three new divers — the only divers on the team.

The men’s team suffered more from graduation than the women — the class of 2004 accounted for the majority of the team’s points last season. 2004 captain Alex Nash ’04 was a mainstay in the backstroke and butterfly events. Jimmy Veazey ’04 leaves a hole in the butterfly and freestyle events and Jack Cooney ’04 was a very strong and incredibly versatile swimmer.

“We lost Jack Cooney, Alex Nash, [Jimmy] Veazey,” Keefe said. “They all held Yale records, and they’re big losses.”

But as with the women, this weekend bodes well for the 2004 season.

The sophomore class was the most impressive, claiming four of the top six spots and breaking five meet records. Foss led the way, breaking three meet records and placing first twice. Geof Zann ’07 did well in the backstroke events, winning both the 100 and 200-yard distances. Matt Thunell ’07 won the 100-yard butterfly and Kent Garber ’07 performed well in the distance events, winning the 1000-yard freestyle and finishing second at the 500-yard distance.

Several Eli freshmen posted impressive results. William Rubenstein ’08 led the class by winning both the 200 and 400-yard Individual Medleys in record-breaking time. He also placed second behind Zann in both backstroke events. Also head-turning was Colin Stalnecker ’08, who won both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events in meet-record time.

“The freshmen are a hard-working, cohesive unit,” captain Dave Lange ’05 said. “They’ve made a flawless transition to college swimming.”

Other notable performers were senior Quinn Fitzgerald ’05, who won the 200-yard freestyle, and Kieran Locke ’06, who posted top-four finishes in all four of his events — the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyles and the 200-yard individual medley.

With three weeks until the men’s and women’s teams take on Southern Connecticut and Columbia, respectively, both teams feel that this weekend has shown them that they are in a very good place. For now, the teams plan to keep working hard and work towards the beginnings of their seasons.

“We’re going to have two, three more weeks of hard training,” Lange said. “It’s pretty much put your head down and train until [the season starts].”