The women’s swimming team did not get to see The Game and did not get to go on vacation until Wednesday, but the Elis made the most of a late start to their Thanksgiving break.

The Bulldogs competed in the Patriot Invitational Nov. 19-21 at George Mason University, placing second in a field of 11 behind only Duke. Two days later, the Elis demolished Johns Hopkins 174-84 in Baltimore.

Several swimmers said last week’s action is a good indication that the team is very strong, and said the Bulldogs’ performance provides motivation for the tough training ahead.

“Even though we got second, it doesn’t matter,” Christine Yurechko ’08 said. “People were going best times even though we weren’t rested, and we’ve only been training for a month and a half. And then to go to Hopkins and get twice as many points as them — it’s amazing. It gives us a lot of spirit for the rest of the season, knowing we’re already this fast.”

The best result of the invitational’s opening day came in the 400-yard medley relay. The Yale team of Moira McCloskey ’07, Caroline Dowd ’08, Becca Knicely ’05 and Meg Gill ’07 placed second with a time of 3:55.36.

The Bulldogs also garnered a pair of third-place finishes from Cristina Hession ’07 in the 500-yard freestyle and Chase Butler ’07, Kirsten Cartoski ’07, Knicely and Gill in the 200-yard freestyle relay. At the end of day one, Yale trailed Duke by 67 points.

The second day of competition saw the Elis find the runner-up position four times. Both the 200-yard medley relay team — McCloskey, Dowd, Knicely and Gill — and the 800-yard freestyle team — Nicole Swaney ’08, Hession, McCloskey and Butler — placed second behind Duke relay teams.

Captain Caroline Stephenson ’05 took second in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:29.54 and McCloskey claimed the runner-up spot in the 100-yard backstroke in 56.77.

The Elis scored well more than they did on day one, expanding the gap between them and third-place University of North Carolina-Wilmington to 86. But Duke was able to extend its lead to 135 points, a margin that would change only slightly over the final day of competition.

The Bulldogs would add another pair of second-place finishes to end the meet. In the 200-yard breaststroke, Cartoski, Dowd and Stephenson placed second, third and fifth, respectively. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of McCloskey, Katelyn Kane ’08, Butler and Swaney took the runner-up spot as well.

At the end of the three-day competition, Duke won with 863 points to Yale’s 726, but third-place UNCW was more than 200 points back with 491.

The Elis said that they were very pleased with their result at the invitational, especially since it was the team’s first experience with a multi-day meet with trials and finals.

“We were really happy,” Gill said. “The Duke women are a really strong ACC team. Obviously we wanted to be up there with them, but we were in a good position — second out of 11.”

The Elis garnered the strong finish despite failing to capture any first-place finishes, an indication of the Bulldogs’ depth.

“There are obviously not a lot of weak spots,” McCloskey said. “Everyone is dependable.”

But the Bulldogs would not go home winless. The Elis won 10 of the 14 events to more than double the Blue Jays’ total in Tuesday’s dual meet.

The dual meet was unusual, as head coach Frank Keefe took the opportunity of swimming against a weaker team to let his swimmers race in events that they do not normally compete in. For example, sprint freestyler and butterflier Gill swam the 200-yard freestyle, placing second.

“It was really cool because I got to swim an event that I’m not used to racing, but I have to do in practice,” Gill said. “It was fun to step up and swim something I wasn’t used to. I think everyone had fun with it, even thorugh we weren’t up against much.”

With only the Nutmeg Invitational remaining before winter break, the Elis are ready to begin the most intense training of the season in preparation for the tough Ivy dual meets after the break.

“Now we’re going into the main part of our training,” McCloskey said. “It’s really hard until January, and then we have the dual meets. But the focus right now is training.”

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