The Yale men’s swimming and diving team fell to its biggest rivals this past weekend in the yearly HYP meet against Harvard and Princeton, though not without a few standout performances from underclassmen and seniors alike.
Over the course of the two-day, 19-event meet, the Bulldogs were shut out of the top three spots in all but four events. Despite some individual highlights, the team as a whole was unable to compete with the top two squads in the Ivy League — both Harvard and Princeton entered the weekend without a loss in league competition. The final scores for Yale were a 253–98 loss to Princeton and a 263-–90 defeat to Harvard, while the Tigers bested the Crimson 224.5–126.5.
“I think we’re in a really good spot at the moment, which might not be terribly evident from the final score,” swimmer Jonathan Rutter ’18 said. “Harvard and Princeton by and large wore racing suits and shaved, whereas most of us went in with Speedos on and still managed to hold our own.”
The contest featured some noteworthy swims despite the overall lackluster performance in a meeting of last year’s top-three teams at the Ivy League Championships. Yale’s distance swimmers provided a couple of the standout results, including Yale’s sole victory. In the mile swim, Kei Hyogo ’18 earned a first-place finish in the final individual event of the first day. The 1,650-yard race saw Hyogo start strong and begin to pull away from Princeton’s Samuel Smiddy — last year’s winner — and Yale captain Brian Hogan ’16 in the latter half of the race to best the competition by nearly an eight-second margin.
The victory bodes well for Hyogo entering the Ivy League Championships, as he took second place in the event at both HYP and the Championships last year. Hyogo also earned a fifth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle to head all Yale competitors, after finishing second in the 500 at last year’s HYP.
“My performance at the meet definitely gave me confidence for the championship season, and I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with another year of experience under my belt since my first Ivies,” Hyogo said.
Of Yale’s four podium finishes, Hyogo captured two of them, as he also placed well in the 400-yard IM. Dueling with Smiddy yet again, the two exchanged the lead three times in an intense back-and-forth race that wound up with Hyogo placing second, just 0.27 seconds behind first.
On the diving end, the 3-meter resulted in a career-best performance for the Bulldogs. Wayne Zhang ’18, a staff reporter for the News, managed to earn a third-place result with 311.90 points, as one of the three competitors who were able to break the 300-point mark. Zhang, who also led all Yale divers with a seventh-place finish in the 1-meter event, is the first Yale diver this season to break the 300-point plateau.
“All of the divers dove to the best of their abilities on the 3-meter, and it got us really pumped for Ivies, and we demonstrated that we are competitive,” Zhang said. “There is definitely room for improvement on [the] 1-meter, though.”
Multiple underclassmen praised the success of Yale’s seniors at the meet, such as the 100-yard breaststroke by Kendrick McDonald ’16. He took sixth place with a 55.83 time, besting his career record by almost a second.
Swimmers Victor Zhang ’16 and Milan Sandhu ’16 each swam season-bests while swimmer Brian Clark ’16 recorded a career-best over the weekend. The Bulldogs interviewed highlighted those personal achievements as exciting and encouraging moments that kept spirits up in spite of the less-than-stellar final result.
“We had some guys on the team do exceptionally well at the meet, especially some seniors ending their swimming careers with lifetime personal-best times,” swimmer Derek Kao ’18 said. “This really helped boost the morale of the team, despite our losses.”
With the historic three-school meet in the rearview mirror, Yale will turn its attention to Ivies and begin tapering for the leaguewide Championships. Coming into HYP, the three teams had varying levels of rest because of the differences in their competition schedules. Ivies could present a more level playing field with most teams resting for the next few weeks.
“HYP is usually the meet where all three teams come in with different levels of preparation and this year was no different,” Hyogo said. “For those of us that still have a month left in our 2015–16 season, I think the meet gave all of us a good idea of where our rival teams will be in a month from now at Ivies.”
The Ivy League Championships will be held in Providence, Rhode Island starting on Feb. 25.