It was a battle of undefeated teams, an afternoon of thrilling races and pool records. Even the fastest Bulldogs were challenged. Despite a myriad of determined, solid performances, the Bulldogs could not prevent Navy from handing them their first loss of the season, 161–139.
“We lost not because we swam worse than normal but because they were just a better team,” Athena Liao ’12 explained. “We knew winning would be really hard, so I’d say we held on pretty well.”
The Bulldogs were lead by Molly Albrecht ’13, who continued her stellar sophomore season — she won all three of her individual races — and by divers Rachel Rosenberg ’12 and Paige Meneses ’13, who posted personal-best scores to take first and second in both diving events.
Meneses won the 1-mtr diving event with a personal-best score of 282.53. Rosenberg was second with 264.00 points. They then switched places in the 3-mtr event as Rosenberg won with 305.48 points, her personal-best on the board. Meneses comfortably placed second with 282.68 points.
As the divers were outscoring Navy in the diving well, the swimmers were engaged in a heated battle at the other side of the pool.
The Bulldog swimmers got off to a rocky start when their ‘A’ relay was disqualified when Cynthia Tsay ’13 false started at the beginning of the race, leaving all the pressure on the ‘B’ relay team of Albrecht, Chelsea Dunlap ’14, Allison West ’14 and Michelle Huang ’14. The Bulldog ‘B’ team could not keep up with Navy’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ relay teams and ended up finishing third, leaving the Bulldogs in a 15-2 point deficit after the first event.
But the Bulldogs quickly rebounded. The next event, the 800-mtr freestyle, leveled the meet at 18–18 as Joan Weaver ’13 and Abby Nunn ’12 easily outpaced the rest of the competition to place first and second respectively. Courtney Randolph ’14 had a spectacular finish in the race, gaining four seconds on Haley Nowak of Navy in the final 150 meters to touch just ahead of Nowak for third place with a time of 9:12.00.
“That was a really great finish,” complimented captain Annie Killian ’11. “We were so excited. That was a great event for us all around.”
Albrecht gave the Bulldogs another boost in a thrilling 200-mtr freestyle race. Trailing by nearly a second, then half a second, then two hundredths of a second, Abrecht finally overtook Allison Ranzau of Navy in the last few meters of the race to win the event in 2:03.45. Ileana Lucos ’11 stoically swam through a shoulder injury and placed third in this event in 2:06.30.
Albrecht also won the 400-mtr freestyle with a time of 4:23.70 and remained undefeated this season in the 200 backstroke, winning the event this weekend in 2:16.58.
“I was really pleased with my swims,” Albrecht said. “Because the pool was in meters, we didn’t have anything to compare our times to. So, it was fun to forget about times for once and just focus on racing.”
The meet was held at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, Md., a short course meter pool. This is the Bulldogs’ only meet this season in a short-course meter pool. All the other meets are at short course yard facilities. Some swimmers said there is little perceptible difference between yards and meters, but others said the extra distance results in a few extra seconds of unwanted exhaustion.
Even if the Bulldogs were a bit more tired than normal in the final few seconds of their races, they did not show it. Like Albrecht, Hayes Hyde ’12 steadily gained on her opponent Toni Paruso who raced out to an early lead in the 200-mtr butterfly. Hayes caught Paruso in the final few strokes but Paruso dove for the wall just ahead of Hyde to win the event in 2:16.43. Hyde finished only a few hundredths of a second behind with a time of 2:16.52.
“I am little frustrated I couldn’t catch her,” Hyde said. “I outsplit her on the last 50 by 1.5 seconds. I didn’t even think at the 150 that I was going to catch her but I’m glad that I came as close as I did. I split the race really well.”
Hyde finished second to Paruso again in the 100-mtr butterfly. Paruso set a pool record of 1:01.51 as Hyde touched in 1:03.36.
“The hundred was a bit different,” Hyde continued. “I know speed for me always comes with a taper so if I’m capable of going that fast unrested, then I’m really excited for Ivies.”
Liao, who has won all her events the past two weekends, had a much more challenging meet this Saturday. Her formidable opponent was Navy’s Laura Gorinski, who smashed two pool records as she went on to win the 100-mtr breaststroke, 200-mtr breaststroke, and 200-mtr individual medley ahead of Liao.
“Every time I was behind the blocks for my races, there was always the same person standing next to me,” Liao said in exasperation. “She raced me every time and she beat me every time. It was a bit frustrating.”
After the meet, the swimmers and coaches converted the short course meter times from the meet to short course yard times that they are more familiar with. They said they were pleasantly surprised with what they saw.
“The times were comparable to where we want to be at this point in the season,” Teuscher said. “We’re looking good.”
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs look back on this meet as valuable preparation for next weekend’s showdown with Harvard and Princeton. They plan to treat this upcoming meet as any other regular season meet but recognize that it is a great opportunity to see how well they match up against their toughest Ivy League opponents before the Ivy League Championships in February.
The two-day tri-meet meet with the Crimson and Tigers will take place at home at the Kiputh Exhibition Pool. The diving events begin on Friday at 2:00 p.m. and the swimming events begin at 6:00 p.m. Diving will recommence on Saturday at 10:00 A.M. and swimming at 12:00 p.m.