Bella Hindley ’19 highlighted the Yale women’s swimming and diving team’s performance at the Ivy League Championships this past weekend. Hindley’s seven first-place finishes, in the seven races she competed in, came in three individual events as well as four relays. The dominant outing earned her the High Point Swimmer of the Meet award.
As a freshman, Hindley represents one part of a bright future for the Bulldogs, who have not won the conference title since 1997. However, after an undefeated Ivy record, the Elis won the most events of any school — 11 out of 21 — at the Championships, despite finishing second to Harvard.
Ever ambitious, Hindley has her eyes set on improving upon the times she earned en route to her impressive weekend, and possibly even on an Olympic appearance for Great Britain at this summer’s Games in Rio de Janeiro. Hindley, a native of London, sat down with the News to discuss the team’s season, her impressive weekend and her goals moving forward.
Q: You racked up 96 points in the individual events at the Ivy League Championships, making you the most successful swimmer of the competition for any school. How did that make you feel and overall, what was the experience like?
A: So, obviously I was pretty happy with how I swam. It’s great because I’ve never experienced this before, where you have a whole team right behind you. The support was amazing. We had so many alumni there; all of our parents were there. To have the team behind you on every single race was incredible. I was happy, but I didn’t hit the times that I wanted to for NCAAs, which are in a couple of weeks, and I am on the edge of making it. But overall, I am happy with the times and it was great to have good races and first-place finishes.
Q: What did you do to prepare for the competition? Was it a usual routine or something special because it was a championship event?
A: We prepared differently: we rested more than we do before dual meets because this was high-level competition. But [otherwise] no, I just stuck to my usual race strategies and preparation that I do for high-level meets because I have experience with that.
Q: Were you nervous at all?
A: I was nervous because this was my first Ivy League Championship, but I’ve done quite a few high-level meets in the past and I know how to deal with the nerves. At least for the relays, it was amazing to have the support of my teammates for that.
Q: On top of earning three first-place finishes in individual events, you were a member of four first-place relay teams. Is preparing for a relay race any different than for an individual race?
A: Yes, I find that it is because you have so much more adrenaline going into [the race], and you have your whole team on the sideline. It was just amazing and it was so loud. The atmosphere was really good.
Q: As far as that atmosphere is concerned, do you feel like there were people inspiring you — family, coach, friends or teammates?
A: I think it was my teammates who were inspiring me because they were doing so well, and if one person does well then people catch on.
Q: Was there one individual event that meant more to you than the others?
A: Yeah, I was worried about my 200-yard freestyle because I’m usually a sprinter through and through. That’s what I do, but a 200-free is quite a long sprint and my time going in was the fastest in the Ivy League so I felt like there was a little more pressure leading into that race. It was just because it was longer than my other races and it took a lot more race strategy than others do. For me, it’s usually just sprint and hold on, whereas for the [200-free], I needed to pace myself.
Q: How do you feel about this meet in relation to other races in terms of performance?
A: Some of my times were around those [earned at] the Nike Cup meet in November, so obviously that was a little disappointing, but they are still near my best times. Most of my other swims were faster than they’ve ever been before. Also, I am used to swimming meters and these races were in yards so all my best times are from this year because this is the only time I’ve ever swum [in yards] before.
Q: Yale had a really strong season, going 7–0 in Ivy dual meets this season, but the team came in second place to Harvard over the weekend. What was the team’s collective reaction?
A: Obviously because we won HYP, we had so much momentum going into Ivies. We felt like we can actually do it. We’ve proven that we can beat them and we felt like we could beat them again. So coming off of HYP, it was disappointing, but it was still better than we’ve ever done. The last time [Yale] actually won [the Ivy League Championships] was because Harvard and Princeton weren’t there, [in 1997]. So this is the best we’ve done in a while.
Q: Was there a special moment that stands out from the weekend?
A: Kina Zhou [’17] and I came in 1–2 in the 100-yard freestyle and that was a pretty great moment. It was a highlight. We’d been trying to do that the whole time and then finally we did it at the end.
Q: What are you looking forward to for the future?
A: I’ve got [Olympic] trials in a couple of weeks so I am focused on that for now, which is going to be pretty stressful. Next season, though, hopefully we do the same or even better. Hopefully, we win [the Ivy League Championships].