It was simply a fantastic meet, head coach Cristina Teuscher said again and again. Almost every event was an outstanding race for the Bulldogs. With the largest crowd of parents, friends, and alumni supporters of the season, the women’s swimming and diving team embraced the spirit of Senior Day to conclude their duel meet season with a 171–129 win over Brown this past Saturday.
The crowd was on its feet from minute one of the swim meet.
In the 200-yd medley relay, backstroker Cynthia Tsay ’13 established an early lead of 0.91 seconds for the Bulldogs, which Athena Liao ’12 maintained throughout the breaststroke leg. However, as quickly as the Bulldogs had established their lead, it disappeared. Despite a strong butterfly leg from Hayes Hyde ’12, the Bears closed the gap to less than half a second. This week, the freestyle leg was swum by Michelle Huang ’14 who, despite a fast split of 24.00 seconds, could not get her hand to the wall fast enough. The Bulldogs finished second in 1:46.54, a mere five hundredths of a second after the Bears’ squad had finished.
“This has happened to us a few times in that relay,” captain Annie Killian ’11 said of the close loss. “We’ve been struggling to find a freestyle anchor. It pretty much changes each week. It was a disappointing start to the meet, but we moved on.”
Moved on might be an understatement, as the Bulldogs charged ahead to sweep the next event: the 1000-yd freestyle. Joan Weaver ’13 won the event with a time of 10:16.77 followed by her teammates Abby Nunn ’12 and Courtney Randolph ’14, who both finished ahead of the first Brown swimmer. Nunn touched second in 10:21.30 and Randolph finished third in 10:33.73.
The 100-yd backstroke and 100-yd breaststroke were two of the closest races of the day. Versatile sophomore Molly Albrecht ’13 swam the 100-yd backstroke this week, and despite finishing in 57.85 — more than half a second faster than her winning time last year — was out-touched by Catie Pittman of Brown.
“I couldn’t really see [Pittman],” Albrecht explained. “I was just plugging along. But I was really happy with the time. It’s not my favorite race, but I’m happy I got to swim it.”
Liao, too, was out-touched in her race, the 100-yd breaststroke. Stroke-for-stroke, breath-for-breath, Liao and the neighboring two Brown swimmers were separated by just five hundredths of a second at the 50-yd mark. Liao fell just slightly behind on the last lap and finished third with a time of 1:05.08. Chelsea Dunlap ’14, who has been consistently the second Bulldog in this event all season, placed fourth in 1:08.91.
The 200-yd butterfly was once again led by the Bulldogs’ duo of Hyde and Ileana Lucos ’11, who have consistently dominated this event all season. Hyde won the event this week with a time of 2:03.10 and Lucos finished close behind in 2:03.99. Both swimmers had season best times.
The divers, too, had season-best scores and swept both the 1-mtr and 3-mtr events. Before the swim meet began, Rachel Rosenberg ’12 had six stellar dives on the 3-mtr board to win the event with a score of 306.15. This score was a lifetime-best and more than 30 points better than her winning score at this meet last year.
“I had a great meet indeed,” Rosenberg said. “I did all of my really hard dives well. The judges were scoring pretty high so it was a bit inflated. But it was a fantastic final meet and everyone feels ready for Ivies.”
Rosenberg also won the 1-mtr event with a score of 290.92. Paige Meneses ’13 finished second in both events and Christina Brasco ’14 rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs in third in both events.
“Christina has done a tremendous job as a freshman,” Teuscher said. “She’s really improved. I’m so proud of her.”
The second half of the meet was even stronger than the first half for the Bulldogs; they won all but two events. Albrecht won both the 200-yd backstroke and 500-yd freestyle, well ahead of her competition in both events. She finished with times of 2:03.37 and 4:58.71 respectively. In the 500-yd freestyle, Weaver finished second in 5:04.80 and Killian finished fourth in 5:07.17.
“The 500 is always at the end of the meet,” Albrecht explained. “Joan, Annie and I always have a lot before it so it’s hard to make it the focus. I guess it teaches us good strategy and making do with being tired and sore, and just doing the best we can.”
Rebounding from her close loss in the 100-yd breaststroke, Liao easily won the 200-yd breaststroke in 2:17.42 as her closest competitor, Brianna Borgolini of Brown, was disqualified in the final 50 yards. Dunlap and Randolph finished in third and fourth with times of 2:29.27 and 2:29.38 respectively.
Two events later, Liao was back in the pool for the 200-yd individual medley. Neck-and-neck for the first 150 yards with Kristin Jackson, Liao fell behind in the final freestyle leg and placed second with a time of 2:08.19. Angela Lee ’14 and Nunn placed fourth and fifth respectively.
Having scored 160 points — well over the 151 points needed to win the meet — the Bulldogs dove in for the 400-yd freestyle relay, the last event of the day. Lucos, Tsay and Hyde swam the first three legs, trading the lead with the Bears’ squad. Weaver dove in for the anchor leg six-tenths of a second behind, but with a determined last lap, surged into the lead to secure the win.
This Senior Day meet did not end with tears or nostalgia for the seniors — the underclassman, though, may have had slightly different reactions.
“I was on the last relay with two freshmen and I think they were more emotional than I was,” Killian said. “It was a really lovely meet and the underclassman did a great job decorating the pool and making us seniors feel special for our last home meet.”
But there is still the Ivy League Championships to look forward to. With the championship meet less than two weeks away, the team has begun tapering, reducing the yardage and intensity of their training. The meet begins on Thursday, Feb. 24 at Blogdett Pool in Cambridge, Mass.