While their classmates watched the Crimson climb back from a 21-3 deficit in the third quarter of the Yale-Harvard football game and eventually win it, the members of the women’s swimming team were busy making their own comeback.

In third place after one day of competition at the Patriot Invitational, the Bulldogs (3-1, 0-1 Ivy) rocketed into first on day two, where they stayed until the end of the meet. The Elis continued their success last Tuesday with a decisive win over Johns Hopkins (1-3), 189-72.

The Bulldogs were winless on the first day at the Patriot Invite, held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Nov. 18-20. Moira McCloskey ’07 led the 200-yard individual medley through the first 150 yards, but Duke’s Katie Ness slipped ahead to win over the final quarter of the race. One day in, the Bulldogs stood at 171 points to Duke’s 206 and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s 198.

The next day saw the Elis jump to 530 points, with Duke and UMBC behind at 487 and 456, points, respectively. McCloskey continued her impressive run with a first place finish in the 100-yard backstroke. She also contributed, along with Marilee Kiernan ’09, Meg Gill ’07 and Alexis Mann ’09, to the 200-yard medley relay team’s win.

McCloskey netted another win on the final day in the 200-yard backstroke. When the dust had cleared at the end of the meet, Yale found itself with 770 points to UMBC’s 738.5 and Duke’s 691.

Despite her standout performance, McCloskey said she gives credit for the victory to the entire team.

“Everyone swam really well,” she said. “Duke looks pretty strong again, but everyone swam to their potential and we put it together. I think the morale was a lot better this year. Everyone stayed up and ready to go.”

The win was especially sweet considering the competition.

“Duke is an ACC school, so to beat them is a lot of fun,” Katie French ’09 said.

Last year’s Patriot Invite started similarly for the Bulldogs, who trailed Duke after the first day. But the Elis were not able to recover, ending in second with 726 points to Duke’s 863.

The Patriot Invite was structured as an NCAA competition would be, aiding the Elis’ preparations for the post-winter break Ivy season.

“This is our last chance to get our conditioning down,” Caroline Dowd ’08 said. “After winter break it’s a lot of meets and racing.”

Coming off the win in Virginia, the Bulldog swimmers headed north to Baltimore for a dual meet with Johns Hopkins. While it took two days for the Bulldogs to reach their peak at the Patriot Invite, the Elis were able to dominate the Blue Jays right from the start. Of 14 events, Yale won 12.

Once again, McCloskey won both the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes. But she was not alone among the Elis in her success. Emily Cole ’09 took the 500- and 1000-yard freestyles, and Kiernan won the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes. Other winners included Nicole Swaney ’08 in the 200-yard freestyle, Blake Walsh ’09 in the 200-yard butterfly, Gill in the 100-yard butterfly, and Megan Bailey ’06 in the 200-yard individual medley.

Starting the season with a roster full of rookies seems to have paid off, or at least to have done no harm.

“We are a young team, but we’re proving ourselves and swimming fast,” said captain Holly Mazar ’06. “We were nervous graduating so many fast swimmers, but now we have more confidence in ourselves.”

The entire team will next compete this Saturday and Sunday with the Nutmeg Invitational at home. Meanwhile, McCloskey will travel to Auburn, Ala., for the US Open Friday through Sunday. The meet attracts some of the best swimmers from around the country and boasts a competitive field. McCloskey will be swimming the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and the 200-yard individual medley. She said head coach Frank Keefe is sending only those men’s and women’s swimmers — seven men will also travel to Auburn — who qualified for U.S. Nationals.

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