Not everyone went to Cambridge for The Game.
The men’s and women’s swim teams headed in the opposite direction to compete at the Terrapin Cup Invitational hosted by the University of Maryland in College Park from Nov. 16 to 18. The men’s team finished fourth out of 15 teams on the first of three days and maintained that position for the entire weekend. The women’s team was 10th at the end of the first round of competition, but steadily improved each day, finishing in eighth place at the end of the invitational.
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Swimmers from both the men’s and women’s teams said they were not that concerned with their placement at this invitational because the coaches emphasized the focus on individual improvement. Because of the high level of competition, the Bulldogs said, they were pleased with their respective fourth and eighth-place finishes and their individual times.
“As far as the competition goes, it was a really solid meet with a lot of fast teams,” women’s captain Meg Gill ’07 said. “A lot of the teams were rested and shaved and wearing fast race suits, but we’re an Ivy League [team], so our season started a little later, and we weren’t rested for this meet. It was a great chance to compete at a big meet even though we were tired from training hard.”
Members from both teams said this year’s Maryland invitational was considerably faster than the George Mason Invitational in Virginia, where they competed last year. Last weekend’s meet featured more high-powered Division I teams that send many top swimmers to the NCAA meet. The exposure to non-league high-level swimming upped the Elis’ performance, team members said.
Alex Righi ’09 said the invitational allowed the Bulldogs to see how fast they were after two months of training and gave them goals for the rest of the season.
“This invitational helped us refresh ourselves and get back to training so that we could see the tangible results of our work, which will help us focus on what we need to do come January,” he said.
Righi had very successful races at the invitational, coming within hundredths of a second of his own Yale records for the 50-yard freestyle (19.83) and 100-yard backstroke (47.75). He finished first in both events.
For both teams, the 400-yard freestyle relays at the end of the meet turned out to be two of the most notable events of the invitational. Gill said it was remarkable that the women’s relay team’s time (3:27.79) at a competition this early in the season was faster than Yale’s time at the Ivy League championships last year. The relay team consisted of Jane Kim ’10, Alexis Mann ’09, Andrea Clifford ’10 and Gill.
“For the 400 free relay, which was the last event on the third day of the invite, everyone was really tired and ready to go home, but the four of us in the A-relay team got really fired up and excited to swim it,” she said. “We were only a second slower than the winning time at Ivies last year, so we have lots of confidence that we can win relays at Ivies this year, which we weren’t able to do last year.”
The men’s 400-yard freestyle relay team was not as fortunate as its counterpart in the last relay, and they were disqualified due to a false start. Had they beaten UConn in this event, the Bulldogs would have edged out the Huskies for third overall in the invitational.
Despite the current training obstacle — Yale’s main practice pool has been closed since October due to poor air quality — the Elis have shown that they are still able to stay in shape and perform well against solid competition.
“We really emphasized that the situation with our pool was something we couldn’t control, so in terms of the obstacle with the pool, we made it a non-issue for this invitational,” said Moira McCloskey ’07, who finished first in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:01.23. “This meet was a really great indicator that we adapted to the situation at home and that we haven’t let it affect our swimming.”
Swimmers from the men’s and women’s teams will be racing at the U.S. Open qualifying meet this upcoming weekend. Because it is a national-level meet, members said, there will likely be tougher competition. The Bulldogs will also be competing at the Nutmeg Invitational, which will mainly attract teams from the northeast, presenting a good opportunity for regional racing.