This weekend marked a historic victory for the Yale women’s swimming and diving team, which finished its season undefeated in Ivy dual meets. The triumph over Harvard and Princeton in New Jersey represents a new epoch of success for the Bulldogs, marking their first victory in the HYP meet in 19 years.
Yale came away with overall scores of 167–133 against Harvard and 173.5–126.5 against Princeton. The Elis started off with a slight lead against both teams after the first day of competition and sealed the win on Sunday with first-place finishes in four of the last five events in the meet.
“I’m so proud of this wonderful team and I’m so happy to come away with a win at HYP and an undefeated Ivy dual meet record for the first time since ’97,” swimmer Pauline Kaminski ’18 said. “This is an encouraging sign for the rest of the season and it looks like our hard work is paying off.”
The dual meet opened up with an extremely tight 200-yard medley relay in which all three schools’ A-squads finished within half a second of each other, meriting a third-place performance for Yale. The missed points were quickly recuperated, though, in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Cailley Silbert ’18 and Eva Fabian ’16 out-touched the third-place Harvard swimmer by over six seconds, and Danielle Liu ’18 snagged fourth place to earn additional points to put the Bulldogs up early.
“Eva and Cailley crushed their individual events,” Kaminski said. “They were head-to-head throughout all their races pushing each other, which helps them do so well.”
Bella Hindley ’19 pulled in points for the Bulldogs as well, with a win in the 50-yard freestyle sprint and a second-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke event. Fellow freestyler Kina Zhou ’17 also brought in a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, and the pair kicked off the second day of swimming with a 1–2 finish in the 100-yard event.
The divers finished the first day of the meet with the 3-meter event, racking up some necessary points for the Bulldogs to maintain an 81–69 lead over Harvard and 79–71 over Princeton.
Lilybet MacRae ’17 won the event by 15 points, with freshmen Talbott Paulsen ’19 and Hannah Walsh ’19 taking fourth and ninth. The trio continued their dominance on Sunday with a first-place finish in the 1-meter for MacRae, and fifth and eighth for Walsh and Paulsen.
“Overall I am happy with my performance, but there are a few dives I know I can do better,” MacRae said. “The rest of the team dove well too and we all have things to work on in the next few weeks as Ivies approach. Our freshmen [Walsh] and [Paulsen] dove really well, especially compared to the Harvard and Princeton freshmen.”
The Bulldogs kept up the heat on Sunday with strong finishes in many of the individual events. Three top-eight times in the 200-yard backstroke helped the Elis net more points, and a win from Maddy Zimmerman ’18 in the 100-yard fly helped widen the margin between the teams.
“I was really pleased with my swim, especially because the meet was still very close at that point,” said Zimmerman, the 100 fly champion at last year’s Ivy League Championships. “It has given me confidence for Ivies and has given me things to work on from now until then so I can be at my best.”
The last event of the meet stood in direct contrast with the meet’s opener, as Yale’s 400-yard freestyle relay squad out-touched its Princeton opponent by almost two seconds to seal the victory in not just the race, but the entire meet. The Yale B-squad grabbed third to put up some more points, but it was already over. The Bulldogs had snapped a 19-year losing streak.
“The entire team was hyped for the meet as we knew it was possible that we could win,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone swam well and fed off the energy in the pool to pull out big wins and touch other girls out. It was a very exciting meet, and now we’re even more eager to win Ivies.”
The team will take a break from meets and taper in practice until Feb. 18, back at Princeton, where the Bulldogs will take on the entire Ivy League in the three-day conference championship meet.