Harry Browne

After a dominating win over its cross-town opponent on Thursday, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team heads into winter training as one of just two Ivy League teams still undefeated in dual meets on the year.

Just a few miles up the road at Southern Connecticut State, the Bulldogs swam to a 125.5–67.5 victory over the Owls to move to 6–0 in dual meets this season. At 3–0, Harvard is the only other unbeaten squad from the Ancient Eight. Now, the Elis have a month to prepare for their tri-meet with Penn and Dartmouth, a week of which they will spend on a training trip to Ft. Lauderdale.

“I think this year has started off very strongly,” Jonathan Rutter ’18 said. “With every win we get closer as a team and more intent on our goals for the season. There are several meets coming up that will test us more than the past six, and I’m confident we’ll step up to those challenges.”

Thursday’s meet seemed like a mismatch on paper. The Owls had dropped each of their four dual meets in 2016, with their closest battle coming in a 27-point loss to Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Meanwhile, Yale entered Hutchinson Natatorium at an impressive 5-–0 and coming off 200–100 and 221.5–78.5 wins over Connecticut and Boston University, respectively. The historical record favored the Elis as well, who stood at a perfect 23–0 against SCSU dating back to 1965.

Yale asserted its prowess over the Owls from the opening event. The Bulldogs took first, second, third and fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, with Yale’s D-relay finishing more than nine seconds ahead of the Owls’ A-relay.

From then on, Bulldog swimmers swam events outside their usual repertoires, still winning with ease. Backstroker Tristan Furnary ’20 claimed the top spot in the 1000-yard freestyle, while distance swimmer Kei Hyogo ’18 took gold in the 50-yard freestyle.

Rutter, usually a breaststroker, sped to victory in the 200-yard backstroke in a time of 1:53.84 while butterfly specialist Duncan Lee ’20 won the 100-yard freestyle. Across the board, Eli swimmers kept the pedal to the metal, pummeling their opponents en route to their third consecutive victory.

“The 50 [freestyle] is pretty much the opposite of what I usually do so in terms of race strategy,” Hyogo said. “It was definitely a challenge. As a distance swimmer, getting my tempo up is something I struggle with, so it was interesting testing that aspect of my swimming in an actual event. But at the same time, it was pretty fun and definitely less painful than distance events.”

Thursday’s meet was the last competition for the Bulldogs in 2016. Their next opponents, the Quakers and the Big Green, will make the trek to New Haven on Jan. 7 for what will be Yale’s first home meet in two months. Penn is 4–1 in dual meets this season, with its only loss coming 152–148 to Columbia.

As the Bulldogs only bested the Lions by the same margin on Nov. 12, their showdown with the Quakers will likely come down to the wire. Dartmouth, however, will not be as imposing a threat. The Big Green are 0–2 in 2016 and most recently came in last at the Big Al Invitational in Providence.

The tri-meet will be the first in a quick succession of competitions leading into February’s Ivy League championship. Yale will also race Penn State, Rutgers, Cornell, Harvard and Princeton in dual meets all in the span of just one month. With the flurry of competition in sight, it is critical for the Bulldogs to make the most of their winter break training in Ft. Lauderdale.

During its week in Florida, Yale will focus on improving its conditioning and fitness in order to survive its brutal 2017 slate and stay competitive in the Ivy League title race. However, head coach Tim Wise said the trip’s length and the quick turnaround before facing Penn and Dartmouth will prove challenging.

“Years ago, [the winter break] trip used to be about two weeks long,” Wise said. “The amount of training you could do in those weeks was pretty significant. Now it’s only a week, so while we do a significant amount of training, we’ll have a dual meet right afterward. We still have to be cognizant of that meet, so there’s a limit on just how broken down you can get.”

If Yale defeats both the Quakers and the Big Green in its next meet, it will move to 1,100 all-time wins since the Bulldogs first swam in 1899.