In the final competition for the 2014–15 Yale women’s swimming and diving team — the Ivy League Championships — the Bulldogs took home third place after an intense back-and-forth meet with Princeton and Harvard.
“The meet has never been so close for us — the leading team changed event by event,” Isla Hutchinson-Maddox ’17 said. “At one point we were leading and then Princeton, and then Harvard. It made it a very tense meet until the very end.”
The three-day competition was held at Harvard, and day one began with the 200-yard freestyle. The Eli team of Kina Zhou ’17, Amy Zhao ’18, Maddy Zimmerman ’18 and Danielle Liu ’18 took second behind Princeton. Eva Fabian ’16 followed up with a third-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle. Lilybet MacRae ’17 led the Yale divers, placing second overall in the one-meter dive behind Caitlin Chambers of Princeton. The Elis’ first victory of the day came in the 400-yard medley relay, in which Heidi VanderWel ’18, Paulina Kaminski ’18, Zimmerman and Zhou set a pool record with a time of 3:39.09. At the end of the day, Harvard, Princeton and Yale were all within 50 points of one another, far ahead of the rest of the Ancient Eight.
Yale’s victorious 400-yard medley team won in the 200-yard medley relay to start day two, setting another pool record at 1:40.34 in the process. Success continued to pour in for the Bulldogs as Fabian placed first in the 1,000-yard freestyle, followed by teammate Cailley Silbert ’18 in second. In the 400-yard IM, Sydney Hirschi ’17 placed second, and Zimmerman won gold in the 100-yard butterfly. Zhou continued her impressive campaign, placing second in the 200-yard freestyle, while Kaminski won the 100-yard breaststroke by a tight margin of 0.1 seconds.
The final event of the day came in the form of the 800-yard freestyle relay and Yale’s team of Liu, Zhou, Olivia Jameson ’17 and Fabian placed second, less than one second behind Princeton. The point totals at the end of day two put the Elis ahead of Princeton by only one point, and behind Harvard by nine points.
With the totals being so close, the Bulldogs had to maintain another strong day of performances to maintain their lead over Princeton and to keep the possibility of overtaking Harvard. Fabian and Silbert led the way, placing first and second in the 1,650-yard freestyle — over 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the competition. In the 200-yard backstroke, Michelle Chintanaphol ’17 placed fourth, while Zhou swam to victory in the 100-yard freestyle sprint.
Kaminski continued her impressive freshman year performance, winning the 200-yard breaststroke. Hutchinson-Maddox and Hirschi combined for a three-four finish in the 200-yard butterfly to follow.
For the divers, the three-meter dive finished in much of the same fashion of the one–meter, with MacRae taking second behind Princeton’s Chambers. The final event of this year’s competition, the 400-yard freestyle relay, saw the Elis fall behind into sixth place. Competition ended with Princeton in first at 1,423 points, Harvard in second at 1,401.5 and Yale in third at 1,377.
But the Bulldogs actually ended up having the most first-place finishes of the competition with a total of eight — Harvard finished with five and Princeton with seven. The difference in points instead came from Harvard and Princeton’s athletes consistently placing in the top three spots — all of whom brought in additional points for the team total.
Zhou commented on the team’s strength this season and how the Ivy League Championships were finally an opportunity for the team as a whole to show how hard they have worked.
While the swimmers and divers were all striving for the overall first-place victory, the strong performances — especially by the younger Bulldogs — give the team a positive outlook for next year.
“I think only losing by 20 to 40 points to Princeton and Harvard gave us a new drive for next year,” Hutchinson-Maddox added. “I think we all are united now behind the common goal to win Ivies next year, and I think that will help us immensely next season during training.”
Besides Ivy League competition, the team will focus on individual performances for the remainder of the season in order to prepare for NCAA qualifications.
“We were looking to improve upon our placing from last year, and to qualify as many athletes for NCAAs as we can,” Fabian said.
The NCAA Diving Zone competitions begin on March 9 in Piscataway, New Jersey, while the NCAA Championship Meet begins on March 19 in Greensboro, North Carolina.