Two weeks removed from its most physically grinding event yet, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team will travel to Storrs on Saturday to continue its march toward the Ivy League Championships.
As most Yale students went home for the Thanksgiving break, the Bulldogs travelled to Christiansburg, Virginia for a grueling three-day meet that featured some of the best teams in the country. Now, the Elis will face off against the University of Connecticut and Boston University in their fourth meet of the year, the antepenultimate against non-conference opponents.
“I think the break was [an important] mental break in terms of getting away from school and stress,” Derek Kao ’18 said. “At the same time, we had to keep up our training because we’re mid season, so it’s no time to stop swimming.
Yale emerged in fourth place at the H2Okie Invitational, behind host Virginia Tech, Purdue and Navy and barely ahead of William and Mary. Despite the continuous onslaught of events over the course of six sessions, a deviation from the typical dual meet format of collegiate swimming, Yale athletes performed up to expectations, winning an event and medaling in five others.
Those swims were enough to earn the Bulldogs 466.5 points, ahead of the Tribe’s 431 and behind the Midshipmen’s 641.5. Since the purpose of participating in such a competitive meet is to gain race experience and not necessarily to claim overall victory, these results are an encouraging sign for the Elis.
This weekend, however, the Bulldogs will have a sole goal in mind: winning. Yale will be looking for its 1096th and 1097th all-time dual meet victories against the Huskies and the Terriers. Moreover, only two meets remain before a nearly month-long break during the holidays.
When the Bulldogs return to action in January, they will be racing teams almost exclusively from the Ancient Eight. A win this weekend and next week against Southern Connecticut State University would give the team a boost in momentum to carry them through the break.
The Elis will be the resounding favorites this weekend. The Huskies were also in attendance at the H2Okie Invitational, where they scored just 230 points, less than half the Bulldogs’ total.
In only four events did the best UConn swimmer or diver outperform the fastest from Yale, indicating the large number of events Yale can hope to win in a dual meet format. The Huskies’ best chances will come in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes as well as the diving competitions.
William Kearsey was second in the 100-yard backstroke in Christiansburg in a time of 48.90, more than a second and a half faster than Ed Stolarski ’19. Divers Spencer Beaulieu and Kyle Kennedy outperformed their Yale counterparts two weekends ago and would seem to have the advantage again. However, the Bulldogs have the distinct advantage in the remaining 12 events, which will put them in the driver’s seat.
Boston University will have a tough time challenging the Elis as well. Though they have earned a 3–1 dual meet record so far, the Terriers only loss came against the UMass Minutemen, whom the Bulldogs eviscerated on Nov. 5, 225-75.
History is not on the side of BU either: Yale is 8–0 all-time in dual meets with the Terriers, including victories in each of the last three seasons. That advantage, plus the extra racing experience gained at Virginia Tech, would seem to make the Elis the odds-on favorites this weekend.
“Knowing how to race the guy next to you is an extremely important skill and one that can only be taught through practice,” captain Alex Goss ’17 said. “We’ve had some nail biters over the past couple of weekends, and the team has grown up a lot because of it.”
Competition will commence at the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium at 1 p.m.