It was Senior Day for the University of Connecticut swimming teams on Saturday and a pumped up Huskies squad along with an energetic crowd proved to be a tough matchup for both the Eli teams. The men were able to sneak away with a 152-148 victory, by far their closest meet of the year. The women, who are now struggling with multiple injuries, lost their meet 184-116.
Captain Alex Righi ’09 said the team may have come into the meet with the wrong state of mind after last year’s 199-99 drubbing of the Huskies.
“They were excited and they had a lot of fans,” Righi said. “I think we had the idea that we could come in and easily win it like last year. The reason it was so close was due to the energy that UConn brought.”
And it was close from the very start. The 200-yard medley relay, which included Righi, Zak Murez ’11, Goksu Bicer ’12, and Chris Pool ’09, turned out to be the story of the meet. The Bulldogs swam a very competitive race, losing to the Huskies by only one one-hundredth of a second with a time of 1:32.31 to UConn’s 1:32.30.
But strong performances from Pool, Righi, Dennen McCloskey ’09 and Matt Lee ’11 helped keep the Elis in the meet. Righi swam in the 100-yard backstroke (49.22), the 50-yard freestyle (20.14) and the 100-yard freestyle (44.30), setting pool records in all three. Pool and McCloskey also each set pool records in the 100-yard butterfly (49.47) and 200-yard backstroke (1:49.69), respectively.
In addition, Lee took first in both of his events, the 1,000-yard freestyle (9:33.36) and the 500-yard freestyle (4:38.67). Drew Teer ’10 took second in the three-meter diving (289.88), while Colton Staab ’12 took second in the one-meter (281.54).
It came down to the 400-yard freestyle in the end. The Bulldogs needed a strong finish in order to secure their victory over the Huskies, and the team didn’t disappoint: Pool, Bicer, Kyle Veatch ’11 and Lugar Choi ’11 combined for a time of 3:04.49 to edge out UConn, which clocked in at 3:05.76.
“Those kids in the last relay were really conscious of the ramifications of losing and really made sure they went out and swam well,” Righi said.
Although the team may not have been expecting such a close meet, McCloskey expressed optimism about his team’s ability to get a victory in the circumstances.
“It started off pretty tight and I’m happy that we were able to pull off the win,” he said. “It showed that were able to step up. They were there to race, unlike last year. They were there to compete with us and they wanted to win.”
For the women, the team struggled with depth as many of the Elis’ swimmers had to sit out the meet due to injuries. Like Righi, captain Aidan McKinlay ’09 said her team did not expect the Huskies to be as tough this year after their 164.5-133.5 victory over UConn last season.
“We were not expecting UConn to be swimming season-best times,” she said. “It was their Senior Day. This made them extra-motivated and ready to race. We just couldn’t compete with the escalated atmosphere.”
Despite this, Susan Kim ’10 and Caitlin Gallagher ’12 were able to put up impressive performances. Kim set a personal and pool record in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:15.05), while Gallagher set a pool record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.39). For the divers Lisa Andrekovich ’12 took second in the three-meter diving (248.17) while Rachel Rosenberg ’12 took second in the one-meter (245.77).
Several key Eli swimmers have been set back due to injuries, which caused the women to have holes in some areas. Ileana Lucos ’11, who is a top swimmer in the two butterfly events and the 100-yard freestyle, is out with an ankle injury. Another high scorer for the Elis, Emily Dominski ’12, is out with a back injury.
“Injuries have definitely been affecting the team’s overall performance,” McKinlay said. “Without key people in certain events, we lose a lot of points.”
Both teams will have a chance to rest after this week’s meet against Brown next Sunday. They will then compete at the Ivy League Championships beginning Feb. 26 for the women and March 5 for the men. With the break, the women will have a chance to recover from their injuries.
McCloskey said a chance to rest will allow the Bulldogs to swim to their full potential.
“A lot of improvements will come with rest,” he said. “A lot of [our weaknesses] are technical right now because we’re tired — we’ve been continuing to train hard and we haven’t really been resting for meets. You’re not supposed to be resting for meets until the end of the season.”