Fully rested and reunited, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team took a short drive to Storrs for a tri-meet matchup with the University of Connecticut and Boston University on Saturday. In their second consecutive road meet, the Bulldogs splashed to a decisive victory over both opponents.
In a meet that saw the Elis deviate from the traditional racing lineup they have displayed during the early portion of the season, Yale put on an impressive show, defeating UConn and BU 182–117 and 210–89, respectively. Yale’s swimmers largely lived up to their established prerace supremacy over both opponents. Entering the meet, the Bulldogs held the top spot in all 20 swim events commonly participated in by the three schools.
The weekend’s competition translated into 10 gold finishes out of a possible 14 events, even with the absence of some of Yale’s swimmers from their best events . The divers also contributed key points, registering notable scores in both 1- and 3-meter events in a rematch against an adept UConn side.
“This meet was an opportunity for everyone to swim events that they normally don’t get a chance to swim,” Maddy Zimmerman ’18 said. “Everyone has events that are clearly their best, so they don’t normally get a chance to swim their second-tier events. It was fun to swim in those, and some people even got personal best times. It was a really nice change of pace.”
The meet began with a Bulldog victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Isabella Hindley ’19, Kina Zhou ’17, Lili Margitai ’20 and Kate Rogers ’18 combined for the gold-medal effort, edging out Yale’s other relay team that participated in the race. The Elis also grabbed first place in the 400-yard freestyle relay, with repeated efforts from Hindley, Zhou and Margitai, as well as Olivia Jameson ’17.
To date, relays have been a particular strength of this season’s Bulldogs. In the Ivy League, they possess the top position in the 200-yard freestyle, the 200-yard medley and the 400-yard medley relays. They also own second place in the 400-yard freestyle relay. According to Hindley, this relay preponderance exemplifies the cohesiveness of the Elis.
“I think the reason we have had so much success in relays so far this season is because as a team we are very close,” Hindley said. “No matter how you’re feeling, when you’re standing behind the blocks before a relay you realize you aren’t just doing it for yourself, but for your teammates. These are the people who have helped you through a killer practice or cheered you up at 6:30 on a Monday morning.”
Other highlights in the swimming portion of the proceedings included a smooth victory in the 1,000-yard freestyle by Kendall Brent ’20, first-place finishes in the 50-yard free and 100-yard free, by Hindley and Danielle Liu ’18, respectively, and a gold in the 500-yard free from Cailley Silbert ’18. Zhou and Margitai also grabbed the top spot in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley.
With swimmers crossing over into new events, continuity could be found with breaststroke specialist Cha O’Leary ’20 and her performance in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke. O’Leary captured a first-place finish in both, continuing her consistency that has characterized her freshman campaign.
“It is interesting coming from a club team where we are used to swimming in every event … to college where everything is specialized,” O’Leary said. “I definitely train more breaststroke than those who swim multiple strokes and I specialize in the 100 and 200 at most meets. I was able to achieve personal bests both in my relay split as the breaststroke leg and in the 100[-yard] at Ohio State … I am really excited to see how the rest of the season goes as a team.”
The Bulldogs’ divers also put together a strong competition. Facing UConn for a second-consecutive meet, Yale had a chance to reclaim bragging rights on Saturday. Talbott Paulsen ’19 was able to find the top of the podium again in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events, and Lilybet MacRae ’17 took third in the 3-meter. McKenna Tennant ’18, Hannah Walsh ’19, Olivia Loucks ’17 and Samantha Traina ’20 all registered a top-10 performance in at least one of the events exhibiting tremendous depth of the Eli divers.
According to Paulsen, while the team’s goal is to win, the Bulldogs did not place too much emphasis on the grudge match with UConn.
“I’m actually impressed we dove so well, because school is ramping up and everyone has huge assignments they’re stressed about,” Paulsen said. “UConn has some really good divers. I honestly didn’t think about [the rematch]. When I dive I try to not focus on the competition at all or how anyone else is diving … the only thing I can control is my performance.”
The Bulldogs resume action on Dec. 8 as they travel to Southern Connecticut State for more nonconference action.