Times are changing for the swimming and diving team, which finished fifth in league play last year but hardly looked like a fifth-place team as it crushed Columbia for its first conference victory of the season.
Yale (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) won a decisive victory against the Lions (1-1, 1-1) last Friday in what was a complete turnaround from the last time the teams faced each other. This time around, the women and the men both trounced the visitors, 169-123 and 171-129, respectively. Last season was a different story, as the women lost 161-139 and the men stumbled 191-128.
The men’s team reached the wall before Columbia in 11 out of 14 races, including the opening 200-yard medley relay. Alex Righi ’09, Geof Zann ’07 and Andrew Foss ’07 all won multiple races. Righi outswam Lion racers in the 200-yard IM, the 100-yard freestyle and the 50-yard freestyle. Zann won in the 200-yard and 100-yard backstroke. Zann and Righi also swam legs of the winning 200-yard medley relay, and Foss recorded wins in the 500-yard and 200-yard freestyle.
“It was a great feeling, because last year against Columbia I got beat in an event I thought was one of my best events,” Righi said. “[The first win] just carried through to the other two; I just worked hard and was having a lot of fun.”
Columbia swimmers beat the Bulldogs in just two individual events and the concluding event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, but by then the Elis had already racked up enough points to ensure the win.
The Eli women swimmers, who won all but two of their 14 events, racked up 169 points as they also disposed of the Lions. Moira McCloskey ’07, Meg Gill ’07, Jane Kim ’10 and Susan Kim ’10 all finished first in more than one race, and Gill and McCloskey contributed to the 200-yard medley relay team’s victory.
Freshmen Jane Kim and Susan Kim both recorded the fastest times the Yale women have seen in over a year in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively. Jane Kim’s 1:51.34 time in the freestyle topped Chase Butler’s ’07 1:52.69 mark, the fastest finish of 2005-’06. Last season’s breaststroke record, held by Marilee Kiernan ’09, was overtaken by Susan Kim’s 2:18.27 race. Caroline Dowd ’08 said the two girls were the standouts of the meet.
“The times that they went were right at the top of the Ivy League,” she said. “That was really awesome.”
Bulldog divers were not as successful as the racing squad, but their showing earned the team enough points to solidify a Yale victory. The men received good scores, coming in second to the Lions in both the one-meter and three-meter dives. Douglas Scott ’08 finished second with 277.57 points to Columbia’s Justin Reardon (279.97) in the one-meter dive. Reardon earned a second victory for the Lions in the three-meter dive when he topped Pat Hayden ’08 289.5 to 285.67.
Ali Jones ’08 finished second by a 16.51-point deficit to the Lions’ Shannon Hosey, who scored 251.17, in the one-meter dive. The Bulldogs did not finish in the three-meter dive because of three disqualifications, giving Hosey another win.
Even though the Eli divers were defeated in all four events, the overpowering showing by the swimmers compensated for any lost points. The Bulldog 200-meter medley relay teams alone, which both finished first, more than made up for the diving losses.
“[Winning early] was a crucial step to gaining confidence,” Righi said. “It always hurts a lot when you start off the meet with a loss but once you get into a positive momentum you can really ride that through.”
Ancient Eight competition will resume in January after the Bulldogs compete in several tournaments and invitationals. Righi said the Ivy League has changed since last season because Cornell, who finished third last season, beat Harvard, the former Ivy leader, in their recent meet. Gill said she was happy with the result of the meet against Columbia and the team will be ready to face other Ivy League rivals.
“We really came out ready to win and ready to race,” she said. “I think that our energy at that meet is going to carry us through to our next meets. Everyone realized how good it felt to beat our rival, and we’re going to continue to race and get stronger.”