Julia Henry

Over the weekend, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team dueled with Columbia, its second Ivy League opponent of the season. Backed by a strong teamwide performance, the Bulldogs emerged from the water victorious and undefeated.

The Elis grabbed first place in 12 out of 16 total events, including gold-medal performances in 10 swimming events and wins in both diving divisions. These impressive numbers allowed the Bulldogs to defeat Columbia by an aggregate score of 176–113. Clean sweeps in seven total events highlighted the depth on the Yale roster.

“It felt great winning our fist home meet in a pool with so much Bulldog history,” Heidi VanderWel ’18 said. “Our performance last weekend was another step in the right direction.”

The Elis wasted no time in jumping out to a quick and significant lead Saturday. Yale swimmers and divers combined for a staggering 12 consecutive first-place finishes to start the day, all but securing an Eli victory.

In the diving portion of the competition the trio of Talbott Paulsen ’19, Lilybet MacRae ’17 and McKenna Tennant ’18 combined to sweep the top three spots in the 3-meter dive, with Tennant’s third-place score besting the closest Columbia competitor by almost a 30-point margin. Later, the same trio capped off an impressive day for the Yale divers in the 1-meter event, sweeping the podium once again. Through two weeks, Yale’s divers have been dominant, capturing gold in every possible event.

“The six women divers all have a terrific, hardworking attitude,” head diving coach Chris Bergère said. “They have extraordinary special awareness and courage. Looking forward … we will train and battle all season to make ourselves and teammates better. The journey together is our reward. We will always be grateful for our time spent working together.”

In the first swim event of the day, the 200-yard medley relay, the Bulldogs A and B squads took first and second. Clean sweeps from Cailley Silbert ’18, Kendall Brent ’20 and Carrie Heilbrun ’19 in the 1,000-yard freestyle and from Kina Zhou ’17, Lili Margitai ’20 and Sophie Fontaine ’20 added to the Bulldogs’ lead.

Yale’s dominance continued with VanderWel’s and Charlotte O’Leary’s ’20 large margins of victory in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke, respectively. From there, victories from Bella Hindley ’19 in the 50-yard freestyle and Zhou in the 100-yard freestyle accompanied three more Yale podium sweeps in the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard backstroke and the 200-yard breaststroke, with golds going to Sydney Hirschi ’17, Destiny Nelson ’19 and O’Leary.

The Lions were able to capture wins in the four remaining events — the 500-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly, the 400-yard IM and the 200-yard freestyle relay — but it wasn’t enough to surmount the early Yale onslaught.

In total, the Bulldogs gathered 12 first-place, eight second-place and 11 third-place finishes. For the second-straight week they received strong performances from underclassmen, including Nelson, a University of Southern California transfer.

According to Nelson, her early experience as a member of the Yale squad has been positive.

“Coach [Jim] Henry and the entire team has made the transfer from USC to Yale as smooth as possible,” Nelson said. “I have had so much fun training alongside my new teammates thus far and am very blessed to have the opportunity to represent Yale University. I am very proud of what our team has been able to accomplish in regards to our recent meets, but I truly believe there is much more to come as we near the championship time of our season.”

The Elis return to action on Nov. 17 as they travel to Ohio State and Virginia Tech for invitational meets.