After suffering incredibly close defeats at the hands of Columbia last season, the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams came back with a vengeance this weekend, dealing the Lions a sound defeat in the Elis’ first home meet of the year.
After falling to Columbia by only six points last year, the Bulldogs won 174–126 on Saturday. The women performed similarly, defeating the Lions 193–107 when they faced off. Yale’s freshmen and sophomores shined, but none more notably than diver Kei Hyogo ’18, who posted the second-best time in the country this season in the 1000-yard freestyle.
“We’re very happy with our performance,” Eva Fabian ’16 said. “Our rivalry with Columbia is always exciting and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The three-meter dive started off the day for the women’s diving team, facing competition for the first time this season because the Bulldogs’ one previous competitor, Southern Connecticut State University, had no female divers. Lilybet MacRae ’17 took home Yale’s first victory by scoring 306.90 points, over 40 points higher than the second place diver, who was from Columbia. Olivia Loucks ’17 and Kelly Sherman ’16 took third and fourth for Yale, respectively.
The first women’s swimming event, the 200-yard medley relay, went to Columbia. Yale’s A-team of Heidi VanderWel ’18, Paulina Kaminski ’18, Maddy Zimmerman ’18 and Kina Zhou ’17 were out-touched by only half a second. Fabian helped the Elis rebound, however, by winning the 1000-yard freestyle by an impressive margin of 16 seconds. The Bulldogs followed Fabian’s first place finish with eight more victories in a row, all by sophomores or freshmen.
Zhou took home three victories on the day in the 200-yard freestyle, the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. Her individual contributions alone gave Yale 27 points.
While Kristine Ng of Columbia took the 200-yard breaststroke over Kaminski by 0.27 seconds, Fabian answered with another victory, this time in the 500-yard freestyle. Columbia’s only other victory came in the 100-yard butterfly, as the Elis took the 200-yard IM and the 400-yard freestyle relay to end the meet.
“I loved competing for the first time at home,” VanderWel said. “Being able to swim in the Yale pool and being a part of a team with so much unity and history is such an honor, and I felt so privileged to be swimming in my pool with my team.”
The men’s team had a similarly successful day, though Columbia took the first two events — the three-meter dive and the 200-yard medley relay. Kei Hyogo ’18 gave the Elis their first win of the day, with a stunning time of 9:03.45 in the 1000-yard freestyle. Hyogo’s time was just 5.22 seconds behind the all-time pool record, set by a Columbia swimmer in 1982.
Teammates Brian Hogan ’16 — who holds the school record in the event at 8:52.88 — and Ben Lerude ’17 took second and third, finishing with times of 9:26.76 and 9:28.18 respectively.
The 200-yard freestyle ended in a photo finish, with the three top times separated by half a second. Rob Harder ’15 ended up with the victory and Jonathan Rutter ’18 took second. Columbia won the 100-yard backstroke, but the Bulldogs took the next two events, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard butterfly.
While Columbia and Yale each won four of the final eight events, the Elis had far more top-three finishers overall, securing plenty of points for a meet victory.
This was the Yale freshmen’s first competition at home, which brought its own mix of emotions for the youngest Elis.
“Swimming often feels like quite an individual sport, but on Saturday every single race was swum for the team,” Rutter said. “And in the end, winning is pretty awesome.”
Rutter also mentioned that competing for the first time at home was a great experience, especially because a lot of fans were there to cheer the team on.
The women’s team has no more competitions until after Thanksgiving break is over, but the men will be heading to the Bucknell Invitational this weekend in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for a three-day meet.
Competition begins on Friday, Nov. 21.