The only time the Elis were off the mark this weekend seemed to be on their ride home.
Though the Yale women’s swimming and diving team (5-1, 1-1 Ivy) was caught in a blizzard on the way back from Ithaca, N.Y., extending the three-hour drive home to eight hours, the Bulldogs made better times in the pool. The Elis won seven events outright as they beat Navy (5-5) and Cornell (2-5, 0-5) 208-92 and 192-108, respectively.
Members of the team said the meet’s tone was set during the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Moira McCloskey ’07, Marilee Kiernan ’09, Meg Gill ’07 and Alexis Mann ’09 combined to bring in first, and the Eli B and C teams took third and fourth places.
The Bulldogs followed up this win with six more, including the 1,000-yard freestyle courtesy of Laura Strittmatter ’09, the 200-yard freestyle won by Blake Walsh ’09, and the 50-yard freestyle by Gill. McCloskey saw an individual victory in the 200-yard backstroke and Gill did the same in the 100-yard butterfly. Megan Bailey ’06 came out on top in the 200-yard individual medley event, which saw Bulldogs take the top three spots.
Besides winning seven events, the Elis had at least one swimmer or diver in the top three in each event. The 100-yard breaststroke revealed particular Yale depth as Bulldog swimmers swept the second through fifth spots. Ali Jones ’08 led the divers with a second-place finish in the 1-meter diving competition and third in the 3-meter.
Jones is a staff reporter for the News.
The victory over Cornell, never a contender in the league, did not come as a shock to the Elis. Considering the final scores, one would expect Navy to have been even less of a threat in the Bulldogs’ minds before the meet. But swimmers said they were surprised — even disappointed — by Navy’s performance.
“We thought we’d have a lot more competition from Navy, but they ended up being really flat,” team captain Holly Mazar ’06 said. “Last year they were more of a challenge to us.”
But Gill said the decisive victory showed how far Yale has come since last season, when the Elis beat the Midshipmen with a narrower margin, 174.5-124.5.
“It showed that the training has really been paying off for us,” she said.
The wins over the Big Red and Navy were more gratifying than telling of how Yale will fare in the Ivy Championships this February, as the former rarely rises above the bottom of the pack and the latter is not a league team for women’s competition. Nevertheless, Eli swimmers said the meet was important, particularly right after a winter break devoid of competition.
“Really dominating someone feels really good,” Mazar said. “Even though they’re not powerhouses, it still boosts our confidence. It’s a good meet to bring us back into the season.”
The Bulldogs host Fairfield (5-5) this Friday, a meet that the team said they expect to win handily. Christina Person ’09 said the meet may give some swimmers an opportunity to participate in off-events, strokes or distances in which they would not typically compete.
The next day the Elis travel to Hanover, N.H., to swim and dive against Penn (4-4, 1-4) and Dartmouth (2-3, 1-3). While team members said Dartmouth should not be a problem, Penn may pose a challenge.
“Penn, two years ago, we won by half a point,” Gill said. “Last year we beat them pretty handily. Looking at the scouting reports, it’ll be a tough meet for mid-distance freestyle and in the breaststrokes. Everywhere else, we’re pretty well-prepared.”