The Yale women’s swimming and diving team departs tomorrow for invitational meets hosted by Virginia Tech and Ohio State. The swimmers will head off to Blacksburg, Virginia, while the divers will leave for Columbus, Ohio.
The Ohio State Invitational is a 10-team affair featuring schools from five different conferences to race against Yale. Stanford holds the current number one spot in the NCAA rankings, and fellow meet participants Kentucky, Ohio State, Penn State and Washington State all have at least received votes in the national top-25 poll. The meet will offer a refreshing deviation from Ivy League competition and a chance to compete against some of the top teams in the country.
“It’s a nice change-up competing at both the [Virginia Tech] and Ohio State Invites, but we look forward to these meets as challenges and chances to realize our utmost potential,” diver McKenna Tennant ’18 said. We definitely use these meets as good markers to see where we stand mid-season … as well as what we need to improve upon more.”
In addition to the 10 collegiate teams competing at the Ohio State Invitational, seven 2016 Olympians will also take to the water in Columbus. Team USA members Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, both gold-medal winners at the Rio de Janeiro games, will compete for the Cardinal throughout the three-day event.
For the Bulldog swimmers, winners of 20 out of a possible 28 total events in their two meets this season, swimming against Rio Olympians will be a memorable experience, if not a competitive one.
The Olympians pose likely insurmountable matchups for the Elis. Through two meets, Yale’s Cailley Silbert ’18 has been Yale’s best swimmer in the 1,000-freestyle, an event Ledecky also swims for Stanford. Silbert has won gold twice this season, posting a best time of 10:02.87. In comparison, Ledecky’s lone 1,000-freestyle time this collegiate season broke an NCAA record, and bests Silbert’s time by a whopping 52.38 seconds.
“The fact that we have a multi-time world-record holder in the pool with us is just as intimidating as it is inspiring,” Paulina Kaminski ’18 said. “It will be an honor to compete and represent Yale during the competition. We have been putting in some great training in the front half of the season and are excited to see it materialize this weekend.”
So far the Elis’ training has paid dividends in the form of blowout defeats of Ivy League foes Brown and Columbia. The 10 squads in the upcoming invitational raise the bar over that set by the Ancient Eight, however. To this point, out of the 14 events Yale and Stanford have both participated in thus far, Stanford’s best time trumps Yale’s 13 out of 14 times, often by healthy margins.
While the swimmers will travel to Virginia, the Bulldog divers will join the Yale men’s team at the H2Okie Fall Invitational in Blacksburg. The meet also features 10 universities, including No. 24 Virginia Tech and a Purdue squad that received two votes in the most recent NCAA poll.
The Elis look to remain undefeated in both the one-meter and three-meter dive events: the trio of Talbot Paulsen ’19, Lilybet MacRae ’17 and Tennant swept the podium in both events against Columbia last Friday.
Paulsen has not recorded anything other than a first-place finish at any point this season. The sophomore tied for first with MacRae against the Lions in the one-meter dive, and has averaged team-high scores of and 299.55 and 319.7 in the two diving events thus far. She faces stiff competition this weekend, however, as Virginia Tech diver Ashlynn Peters is also undefeated in the three-meter event in all three of her competitions thus far, most recently topping the podium with a 315.45 against Penn State.
“I’m excited for the meet — there are a lot of really good schools here and that means really good competition,” Paulsen said.” This meet is also a way for us to get used to the pool and environment because NCAA [zone championships] will be here as well in the spring.”
The Ohio State Invitational will take place Nov. 18–20, while the Virginia Tech H2Okie Fall Invitational will extend through Nov. 18–19.