After three months of intense competition, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team will wrap up its season with the Ivy League Championships this weekend. The Bulldogs head into the meet seated third overall, with Harvard and Princeton tied for first.
The Elis have only lost one meet all season: the HYP meet in which Harvard and Princeton tied for the victory. Though the Tigers and Crimson are ranked ahead of Yale, the Bulldogs have several athletes who have excelled for the team during the regular season.
For the divers, Lilybet MacRae ’17 and Kelly Sherman ’16 have both contributed greatly to the Elis’ success. MacRae has placed in the top three 13 times in the one-meter and three-meter dives, while Sherman has continued to place solidly in the top eight, bringing in points for the team.
As for the swimmers, several have set personal records and more than a few had strong reputations heading into the 2014–15 season. Eva Fabian ’16 was selected for the 2014–15 USA National Swim Team, one of only two Ivy League swimmers to be chosen. Fabian has won the 1,650-yard freestyle in both of her previous Ivy League Championships as well as the 500-yard freestyle in last year’s Championships.
“As a team, we are looking to put forward our best results this year,” Fabian said. “We are looking to improve upon our placing from last year, and to qualify as many athletes for NCAA’s as we can.”
While the Bulldogs are not going into the meet focused on personal records, several swimmers have posted some of the top championship performances in recent years. Fabian has the 14th and 15th best conference times in the 500-yard freestyle in history, as well as holding the fourth-place spot in the 1,650-yard freestyle and the seventh and eighth-best times in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Teammate Isla Hutchinson-Maddox ’17 holds the 10th spot in the same event.
One event that Yale has dominated for the past five years is the 200-yard butterfly. The Bulldogs hold the all-time top eight spots in the event, though Sydney Hirschi ’17 — the defending Ivy champion in the event — is the only current swimmer to possess one of those spots, with the fourth and fifth-best times. MacRae currently ranks second in Ivy League scores for the one-meter dive, only 1.70 points behind the first-place record holder.
Several athletes have stated their excitement for the meet and how ready they are to show what their hard work has done throughout the year.
“The energy at Ivies is unlike any other meet,” Kina Zhou ’17 said. “You feed off of other people’s fast swims and cheerful energy.”
The championship meet, which will be held in Cambridge this weekend, will have a far different lineup than last year’s meet. During the 2013–14 regular season, Columbia went undefeated while Princeton and Cornell were tied with the Elis for third. The only teams heading into the meet in the same standing as last year are the Bulldogs in third and the Dartmouth Big Green in eighth.
Only four Ivy League schools have ever won an Ivy League championship; Princeton has racked up the most wins at 21, followed by Harvard at 11, Yale at six and Brown at five. In recent years, Princeton has dominated the Ivy League, winning 11 of the last 14 meets. The Elis have not won a championship since 1997.
In addition, the meet will be the final team competition for three seniors: Rebecca DeLaFuente ’15, Elizabeth Larsen ’15 and Jacqui Levere ’15.
“The seniors are a bit older and have more perspective on Yale regarding classes, practices and meets, and they’re always able to stay so calm,” Sherman said. “The seniors are fantastic.”
Competition kicks off on Feb. 19 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Preliminary races will begin at 11 a.m.