The Yale men’s swimming and diving team proved its mettle in close races Saturday, defeating Brown 177.5–122.5 in Providence.
The Bulldogs outscored the Bears in a close meet that featured four races decided by 0.04 seconds or less. The University of Massachusetts also participated in the meet, losing to the Elis 225–75 and to the Bears 224–76. Of the 16 events, Yale was victorious in nine and shared the title with Brown in the 10th.
“Brown has greatly improved over where they were a year ago,” head coach Tim Wise said. “[It was] a really close meet; maybe the score wasn’t as close as the races indicated.”
From the opening race, it was clear that Brown was not going to go down without a fight. In the 200-yard medley relay, Brown anchor Jack Nee made up more than half a second on Yale’s Henry Gaissert ’20 to finish in a tie for first place.
But any momentum Brown may have hoped to gain from Nee’s efforts were quickly squashed by a dominant performance by last season’s Yale team high-point winner Kei Hyogo ’18, who claimed the 1,000-yard freestyle by more than 10 seconds in the next event. Following Hyogo’s 9:14.76 effort, the Elis grabbed three of the top four places in the 200-yard freestyle, with Scott Bole ’19 taking gold in 1:39.42. After the shaky start, the Bulldogs suddenly were in firm control.
Yale remained in the lead despite a series of close finishes that went both ways. Shawn Nee ’18 took the 100-yard backstroke by just 0.01 seconds, but Hyogo missed the top finish in the 200-yard butterfly by a mere 0.02 seconds just two events later. However, the Bulldogs asserted themselves with a podium sweep in the 100-yard breaststroke to all but assure victory over the Bears and the Minutemen by the competition’s halfway point.
“I’m really happy about [our performance],” captain Alex Goss ’17 said. “All the guys on the team are as well. Heading into the first meet of the season, there are a lot of nerves, but judging by what we saw there are a lot of things to be excited about. … Coach Tim says that if you want to win all of them, you have to win the first one.”
Over the final eight events, Eli swimmers continued to dominate close races. Aaron Greenberg ’18, returning to the team after a year spent trying to make the Israeli Olympic team, out-touched Brown freshman Cody Cline in a dramatic 100-yard freestyle. Coincidentally, Bole and Gaissert tied for fourth place in that race, 1.21 seconds behind Greenberg.
With its second podium sweep in the 200-yard breaststroke and a one-two finish in the 500-yard freestyle — an event featuring an almost five-second victory by Hyogo — Yale easily coasted to victory over both the Bears and the Minutemen.
Though a strong performance to open conference competition will give confidence to the Bulldogs, the road ahead will challenge the team at every turn, including in this weekend’s home opener against Columbia. The Lions competed in West Point, N.Y. on Friday, beating both Army and Penn. Meanwhile, Ancient Eight powerhouses Harvard and Princeton have yet to begin their seasons, so their ability remains unknown. But the Yale swimmers are not bowing to the pressure, especially after such an encouraging start to the season.
“I’m confident in our team’s performance going into the meet this weekend,” Derek Kao ’18 said. “We showed up strong against Brown and UMass, and I know we will show up strong again to race Columbia.”
Last Saturday’s wins bring the Elis to an all-time total of 1,094 dual meet victories. They will try for their 1,095th at 2 p.m. this Saturday at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.