Many things changed for the Bulldogs this year — a new coaching staff, a home pool advantage, and a new squad of freshmen — but the results of the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet did not. Princeton won the meet for the fourth year in a row, beating Harvard, 207–73, and Yale, 234.4–65.5. The Bulldogs fell to the Crimson, 217–83.
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The spotlight of the meet belonged to the Tigers, who won all 16 events and setting seven pool records. The smaller Bulldog squad, with 20 fewer swimmers on its roster than Princeton’s, could not keep up.
“I think it was a little intimidating and it overwhelmed people this weekend — especially the underclassmen,” Ileana Lucos ’11 said. “We weren’t going slower than we usually do. The other teams were just so fast and so big.”
While the Bulldogs are none to make excuses, many swimmers mentioned that the Harvard and Princeton swimmers wore racing suits and were rested and shaved for the meet. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, went into this meet unrested, amidst a month of tough training. Cynthia Tsay ’13 posited that even if the Bulldogs had been rested and shaved, the final score wouldn’t have been that different.
“The talent on the other teams far surpassed us,” Tsay said. “They have really, really strong freshman classes. There were times it was pretty rough, but overall I thought we did well and stayed focused and raced well.”
The rough times did not start right away. In the first swimming event, the 200-yd medley relay, the team of Tsay, Athena Liao ’12, Hayes Hyde ’12 and Lucos outpaced the Harvard relay squad to take third behind Princeton’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ relay teams in a time of 1:45.16. Tsay, Liao, and Hyde have swum this race together many times this season, but the fourth swimmer has varied. Lucos stepped in this weekend and was a force to be reckoned with. She anchored the relay with a blistering 23.26 second split to touch seven hundredths of a second ahead of the Harvard squad.
“It was really exciting,” Hyde said. “Ileana did really well. When she touched the wall, the men started chanting ‘no suits, no suits.’ We were definitely motivated after that. We felt we were in the hunt.”
Harvard, however, overtook the Bulldogs in the next event, the 1000-yd freestyle, and never looked back. Molly Albrecht ’13, the top finisher for the Bulldogs in the 1000-yd freestyle, finished in tenth with a time of 10:15.84. Princeton and Harvard grabbed the top nine places.
The 200-yd freestyle did not differ much from the 1000-yd freestyle. Joan Weaver ’13 placed eighth in 1:53.90, followed by teammates Michelle Huang ’14 and Kristin Darwin ’11 who finished 14th and 20th respectively.
In the 100-yd backstroke, Albrecht placed sixth, only eight hundredths of a second ahead of Tsay who touched in 58.55 for seventh place.
“We came in knowing that they were going to go really, really fast,” Tsay said. “There were times when girls in the earlier heats were going faster than my personal bests. I just had to be more concerned with my times rather than my place.”
Liao, too, said she preferred to focus on her own race and was pleased with her 100-yd and 200-yd breaststroke swims. She placed fourth in the 100-yd breaststroke with a time of 1:04.64 and second in the 200-yd breaststroke in 2:17.69. Her second place finish was the highest place of any Bulldog in the meet.
“That time I went in the 200 is what I’ve been doing in the rest of the meets so far,” Liao explained. “Since I race the 200 breaststroke so often, I’m good at internalizing what I need to do. Usually, I can swim the same good race.”
The 200-yd individual medley was not as successful as she had hoped. She was the top finisher for the Bulldogs, finishing 10th in 2:09.96, but said that there remain many aspects of her race to improve.
Hyde continued her consistent junior season, once again leading the charge for the Bulldogs in the butterfly events. She finished third in the 200-yd and sixth in the 100-yd butterfly. Lucos followed close behind in both races, finishing eighth in the 200-yd and 100-yd butterfly.
“The 200 fly felt pretty good,” Hyde said. “I think this is my best time all season without resting and suits. It’s exciting to be at this point since I’m averaging two seconds faster than last year.”
The last event, the 400-yd freestyle relay, was a dramatic conclusion to the two-day meet. After two legs of the relay, only a second and a half separated first from third. With all of the swimmers, divers, and spectators on their feet, Princeton began to open up a slight lead over Harvard and Yale and touched the wall first in 3:22.31. The Bulldogs finished third in 3:28.78.
While the pool records and ultimate victory belonged to Princeton, the consensus of the Bulldog squad was positive. Many said that the Bulldogs swam quite well but simply were overshadowed by the sheer depth of talent that Princeton and Harvard boasted.
“When you look at it on paper, it doesn’t look so good,” Hyde said. “But if you were at the meet, you saw how hard the girls were working and how hard they were trying.”
The Bulldogs will take on UConn at 1 p.m. on Saturday.