As the men’s swimming team expected, it could not catch the powerful squads that had reigned atop the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League throughout the regular season in the EISL championships. But the Bulldogs did give some of the competition something to talk about before hanging up their towels.

The Elis finished up their 2004-2005 season by coming in fourth at the 2005 EISL Championships, held March 3-5 at Harvard. Their mark of 872 points was solid enough to top both fifth-place Cornell (820 points) and eighth-place Navy (686 points) after both the Big Red and the Midshipmen had beaten the Bulldogs during the regular season.

Unfortunately, the Elis fell short of their goal of third place behind Harvard and Princeton. The bronze went to Columbia as the Lions avenged their loss to Yale Feb. 5 at the Kiphuth pool by posting 1,040.5 points.

“A lot of our swims were somewhat disappointing, and losing to Columbia again was disappointing,” Tom Hardy ’06 said. “But even though we didn’t beat Columbia and get third, the fact that we were still able to come out on top of both Cornell and Navy felt good, considering that a lot of us didn’t swim well.”

As had been the case all season, the Bulldog stars were the middle-distance freestylers, particularly Quinn Fitzgerald ’05 and John Atkinson ’05. Fitzgerald swam the best Yale races of the competition, posting a third-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle and a fourth-place finish at the 200-yard distance.

While his places were just short of his classmate’s, Atkinson was the only Eli to place in the top eight in all three of his races. The senior came in sixth in both the 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyles and placed seventh in the 500-yard freestyle.

Despite not placing as high as he was seeded, Andrew Foss ’07 added a fifth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle and a 10th-place finish in the 500.

Fitzgerald, Atkinson and Foss also teamed up, along with Kieran Locke ’06, for the Bulldogs’ best relay finish — third in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

“They’ve been great for us all year,” Billy Rubnstein ’08 said. “We expected it of Foss and [Fitzgerald] since they were scoring all year. It’s great that they stepped it up even more at EISLs.”

The Bulldogs did not begin the meet well, ending up in seventh out of nine teams at the end of day one after putting swimmers in only one event final.

But the Elis jumped into fourth on the second day of competition with a number of strong performances, most notably the 200-yard freestyle. Fitzgerald and Foss took fourth and fifth in the event, marking one of only two times that two Elis placed in the top eight.

The Bulldogs also swam well in the 1,000-yard freestyle, 400-yard individual medley and the 800-yard freestyle relay on day two.

Yale swimmers continued to race extremely well on the final day of competition. Ben Dzialo ’07 placed fourth in the 200-yard butterfly, Atkinson led a trio of distance swimmers who finished in the top 15 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, and Geof Zann ’07, Billy Rubenstein ’08 and Locke placed 10th, 13th and 14th, respectively, in the 200-yard backstroke.

The strong day three performance allowed the Elis to pull even farther away from fifth-place Cornell and the rest of the field below them, but it was too little, too late to catch the Lions.

While the Bulldogs can relish avenging their defeats to Cornell and Navy, the results of the meet indicate a second-straight year that the Elis will lose several of their top point-scorers to graduation.

But most team members said despite the strong showing from the senior class at the championships, this year’s Elis are a very young team with the potential to survive graduation and be even better next year.

“I personally think that this team should get stronger and stronger over the next few years,” Lange said. “If you look at where the majority of the points are coming from, they’re underclassmen, and we have some recruits coming in that should immediately improve this team. I’m extremely proud of the contributions that my class has made to the Yale swimming tradition, but it’s time for [the class of 2005] to move on, and we all realize that.”

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