CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Sporting tie-dyed shirts made especially for the occasion, the women’s swimming and diving team spent the weekend trading cheers with Harvard and Princeton during the annual H-Y-P meet. But all the sideline spirit was not enough to overcome the top two teams in the league.

Yale (7-4 2-4 Ivy) fell to No. 23 Harvard (10-0, 7-0) and Princeton (5-2, 5-1), 252-67 and 231-88, respectively. It was an expected result, with the unrested Bulldogs racing against the perennial league powerhouses. No Bulldog swimmer won an event over the two-day meet.

This season’s 200-yard medley relay team of Moira McCloskey ’07, Marilee Kiernan ’09, Meg Gill ’07 and Alexis Mann ’09 has been hard to beat all season. But the Crimson and Tigers were up to the task, leaving Yale’s A relay team in third, more than three seconds off first-place Harvard’s time. McCloskey, arguably the strongest Yale swimmer, fell in the 100-yard backstroke to Harvard’s Lindsay Hart, last year’s ninth-place finisher at the Ivy Championships. McCloskey’s near miss was matched by Kiernan’s third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The Elis would not break the top three again on Saturday. In three events, no Eli placed in the top nine.

But one lackluster result is slightly deceptive. Though the Bulldogs were held to no higher than tenth place in the 1000-yard freestyle, four of the six Yale swimmers in the event swam an extra 650 yards so they could have entry times for the 1650-yard freestyle for the Ivy Championships. While the extra 650 yards were only recorded for exhibition purposes, the slower pacing required led to higher 1000-yard times.

Sunday brought a new start, but not drastically different results.

Lindsay Hart would beguile McCloskey yet again in the backstroke, this time at the 200-yard distance, wresting away a win in the event McCloskey won at the Ivy Championships last year. McCloskey’s time of 2:00.91 was fast enough to beat the NCAA B qualifying time, but Harvard head coach Stephanie Morawski said last year’s NCAA championships had a final cut time of 1:59.40. She said both McCloskey and Hart’s last chance to make that time — Hart turned in a time of 2:00.02 — will be the Ivy Championships in three weeks.

Yet again, Yale swimmers across a wide spectrum of events failed to reach into the upper echelons. Mann and Gill came in sixth and seventh in the 100-yard freestyle to open the day, and the pair of Liz Berger ’07 and Gill posted the same result in the 100-yard butterfly. Kiernan and Kirsten Cartoski ’07 did little better in the 200-yard breaststroke, taking fifth and sixth, respectively.

Distance success eluded Yale again in the 500-yard freestyle, where no Eli placed higher than tenth. In crowded 3-meter diving field that featured nine Tigers, Ali Jones ’08 led the Yale divers but could do no better than eighth.

Jones is a Staff Reporter for the Yale Daily News.

The 200-yard individual medley saw McCloskey in the lead during the backstroke leg and close to the front throughout, but fall to two Princeton swimmers and Hart once again to take fourth overall. The competition ended with a sixth-place Yale finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Even with such a vast margin of victory for Yale’s rivals, team members said they are undeterred by the results. They said the team had treated H-Y-P as a typical dual meet rather than competition on par with championships.

“I think the team’s on the right track,” McCloskey said. “This is always a good experience to get a highly exciting atmosphere and see how fast you can go.”

Whether or not the Bulldogs’ strategy of focusing on championships will pay off remains to be seen, but it certainly colors the Elis’ thinking.

“We’ve been on a steady progression of dropping times and building up to Ivies,” Kiernan said.

Yale will race against Brown at home this weekend, a meet swimmers said would be difficult but possibly less so than in previous years. They said the team is usually still recovering mentally from H-Y-P before the Brown meet, but this year there is less to recover from since the focus is so heavily on championships.