Arguably the most animated aspect of this weekend’s men’s swimming competition occurred Saturday night, in the stands overlooking the far end of the Kiphuth Memorial Pool. Wearing tank tops and speedos borrowed from members of the men’s team, members of the Yale women’s volleyball team cheered their fellow Bulldogs on. When the women stood, letters printed on their tops spelled out a less-than-proprietous message concerning what little of the men’s physiques was covered up.

While the crowd was rowdy, the action that took place in the water gave the Eli faithful much less reason for amusement.

This past Saturday and Sunday, the Bulldogs (4-5, 2-4 EISL) fell to both Harvard (7-0, 7-0) and Princeton (6-1, 4-1) in the annual H-Y-P tri-meet. The Crimson rolled to a convincing 252-99 win over the host Elis, while the Bulldogs lost by a slimmer margin to the Tigers, 221-132.

Mike Slater ’07 was the only Eli to take an event in the meet, clocking in at 2:06.23 in the 200-yard breaststroke — nearly seven seconds faster than his time in the previous weekend’s Penn-Dartmouth tri-meet.

Despite the lack of point-production, no major problems emerged for the Bulldogs this weekend. The lopsided losses came at the hands of extremely strong Harvard and Princeton squads.

“We were beaten by two teams that were better than us,” captain Dave Lange ’05 said. “So we have to tip our cap to them and look forward to the opportunity to race them again at the end of the year.”

The Eli swimmers said the way they swam puts them in a good position at this point in the season, regardless of the final team scores.

“A lot of people swam faster than they had all season,” Billy Rubenstein ’08 said. “This sets us up really well for Easterns.”

The breaststroke events were one of the stronger areas for the Eli men this weekend. Robert Schotter ’05 and Tom Hardy ’06 followed Slater in the third and fifth spots, respectively, at the 200-yard distance. And in the 100-yard breaststroke, Schotter and Hardy took third and fourth, respectively.

Last week, against EISL bottom-dwellers Dartmouth and Penn, no Bulldog swimmer broke into the top three in either of the two breaststroke events.

The other strong point for the Elis was the middle-distance freestyle events, thanks to the duo of Quinn Fitzgerald ’05 and Andrew Foss ’07. While the pair was unable to repeat its recent performances — they had gone one-two in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyles in each of the two previous meets — they did give the Bulldogs and their fans something to smile about.

In the 200-yard freestyle, both men were near the back of the pack at the halfway point. But Foss charged to catch all but one swimmer, including his senior teammate, as the pair took second and third with times of 1:38.89 and 1:39.21, respectively.

But Fitzgerald gained the upper hand in the 500-yard freestyle, taking second in 4:29.95 while Foss cruised to fifth in 4:32.34. John Atkinson ’05 came in sixth, with a time of 4:35.67.

While Foss and Fitzgerald were the only Elis to garner second-place finishes, a slew of Bulldogs put up strong performances to claim bronze: Ben Dzialo ’07 in the 200-yard butterfly, Geof Zann ’07 in the 200-yard backstroke, Doug Scott ’08 in the 1-meter dive, and both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.

And strong performances were not limited to the Bulldog all-stars. With his cheering teammates crowding the pool deck, Aaron Kessler ’07 touched the wall in 1:59.74 in the 200-yard butterfly. While the time was only good for 18th in the event, Kessler’s mark qualified him for the ECAC meet in late February — a feat he had been unable to accomplish until this weekend.

Kessler also made an ECAC “B” cut in the 100-yard butterfly with his time of 55.50 seconds.

Crimson and Tiger swimmers acknowledged that while the scores left little to the imagination, a month of training and tapering could lead to entirely different results when the squads next lock horns — at the EISL Championships, to be held at Harvard in early March.

“We still have another month’s work to put in,” Cantab captain John Cole said. “In no way, shape, or form is our season over yet.”

The Elis said the numbers on the scoreboard are a poor indication of what the team takes away from this weekend’s action. The Bulldogs are not demoralized, and are looking forward to building on this weekend’s results in their upcoming contests — including another tri-meet this weekend against Columbia and Brown.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Slater said, speaking at the end of Saturday’s session. “We came here wanting to put our best foot forward, and we did. We’re in a good position and we’re having a good time.”

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