In a meet that featured the likes of six-time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, Yale’s top swimmer made his own wake.
In the Short Course National Championships held in Atlanta, four members of the women’s and five of the men’s team qualified to compete in the highly competitive event, but only Alex Righi ’09 contributed to Yale’s fifth place finish, earning all of Yale’s 35.50 points himself.
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“It was good for us all to race against such high level competition,” captain Caroline Dowd ’08 said. “It gets you more excited for your races because it’s a more intense atmosphere.”
With a pool full of potential Olympic competitors and United States record holders, Righi held his own in all three of his events, earning enough individual points to place him 18th individually among more than 100 other point-earning swimmers.
In the 100-yard freestyle event, Righi swam a 42.97 to come in fifth place behind first place finisher Phelps, who completed the swim in 42.14. Righi came in sixth place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.61, only .30 seconds behind the first place finisher. He also finished ninth in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 47.82.
While nine swimmers represented the Elis in Georgia, a majority of the men and women’s swim teams hosted eight schools in the annual Nutmeg Invitational at Payne Whitney.
“It’s a meet where you can focus on your individual races,” Katelyn Kane ’08 said. “You can see where you are before we go into very heavy training.”
Being one of the teams with the most representation at the meet allowed the Bulldogs to dominate several races both in numbers and times. The meet was split up into two days worth of competition.
On Saturday, Ilya Byzov ’09, Matt Sweitzer ’09 and Lugar Choi ’11 all nabbed first place in their respective events.
Byzov won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:46.04. With a time of 58.94, Sweitzer finished first in the 100-yard breaststroke, and Choi won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:44.61.
In Sunday’s competition, three more men’s swimmers dominated their races. Paolo Benvenuto ’09 finished first in the 1650-yard freestyle, and Colin McCarthy ’10 won the 200-yard backstroke, finishing ahead of five Bulldogs who placed second through sixth in the race. In the 200-yard butterfly, Tyler Scheid ’09 beat out Reid Madden ’08 for first place by .65 seconds.
Blake Walsh ’09 came out strongly for the women’s team on Sunday, winning the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:10.81. Walsh also finished third in the 200-yard breaststroke and sixth in the 200-yard backstroke events.
“Our times were a little bit up, but it was a good meet to see where and how we are at this point in the season,” Craig Steen ’10 said.
Before the teams head to Puerto Rico for their winter training, they will first face off against Fairfield and Southern Connecticut State in a tri-meet this Friday at home.