In its last action prior to winter break, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team improved to 6–0 on the season, exerting its will over an inferior Southern Connecticut State squad.
Thursday’s proceedings turned out to be somewhat peculiar in that swimming and diving events occurred in multiple locations, at SCSU and Yale, respectively. Plagued by academic obligations, not all Yale team members were required to attend the meet. Still, the Bulldogs persevered, defeating the Owls by a definitive 157-–83 margin. Shorthanded, and with a shuffled lineup reminiscent of last weekend’s competition, the Bulldogs still captured nine out of an 11 possible first-place finishes and swept the podium in both diving events.
“The team did an excellent job competing tonight in all of the events,” head swimming coach James Henry said. “There wasn’t one swim where the women were not engaged in racing. I am extremely impressed with where we are at this point of the season. It is great to be 6–0, but I am confident our best is yet to come.”
Highlights of the evening’s meet began, as many of the previous meets have, with Yale dominating the relay events. In the first event, Heidi Vanderwel ’18, Paulina Kaminski ’18, Sydney Hirschi ’17 and Mackenzie Franklin ’17 were able to capture gold in the 200-yard medley relay. From there, Destiny Nelson ’19 more than comfortably grabbed first place in the 1000-yard freestyle, winning by a staggering margin of 17.50 seconds.
Yale then swept the podium in the 200-yard freestyle — Hirschi, captain Michelle Chintanaphol ’17 and Franklin touched the wall one after another — and the 50-yard freestyle, thanks to top finishes from Amy Zhao ’18, Kate Rogers ’18 and Vanderwel.
Throughout the rest of the meet Elis who may not garner regular week-to-week attention posted impressive individual results. A plethora of swimmers including Chintanaphol, Franklin, Rogers, Elizabeth Felix ’19, Caroline Heilbrun ’19, Isla Hutchinson Maddox ’17 and Alexa Kalandiak ’18 captured top-three finishes, further exhibiting the Bulldogs’ depth that has been on display all season.
According to head diving coach Christopher Bergere, the Bulldog divers entered the meet with a decisive talent advantage over SCSU. The true test for the Eli divers, however, was whether they would be able to remain consistent and focused in a competition that likely would not require their best performance for victory. Bergere cited the “battle within” as the principle challenge in the sport of diving, highlighting the importance for Yale to strive to improve no matter who they take the water against.
Competition in the quiet atmosphere of the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool, separate from the commotion of the swim events taking place at SCSU, the Bulldogs heeded coach Bergere’s advice on their way to utter domination of the Owls. Yale’s divers swept the podium in both the 1-meter and 3-meter iterations with first through third finishes from Lilybet MacRae ’17, McKenna Tennant ’18 and Hannah Walsh ’19 in the 1-meter and Tennant, MacRae, and Olivia Loucks ’17 in 3-meter. Not only did the Elis crush their opponent, but MacRae’s gold score of 317.55 in the 1-meter registers as the best for the Eli’s all season in that event, and Tennant’s 313.35 is her top personal score in either diving height during this campaign.
“I think we all did really well, and I was really proud of the way we performed, especially considering that this past week was a pretty rough one with everyone having a lot going on,” Tennant said. “The whole team will definitely be putting in a lot of good training for the next meet in Florida on our training trip.”
Similar to most winter sports squads, the Bulldogs will have an abbreviated winter break. Following roughly a week away from campus, the Yale swimmers and divers will travel to Florida for a week of strenuous training and a tri-meet with Florida International University and Cornell. Then Yale will return to New Haven for two more meets prior to the beginning of the spring semester.
According to Walsh, though the Elis will miss precious time at home, the early return to competition and campus is very valuable.
“Some of our hardest training of the whole year occurs over our training trip, so it helps to be in a beautiful place like Florida,” Walsh said. “Working hard during these [winter] months is crucial for success at the end of the season. … Sure it would be nice to have more time at home, but the bonding that happens over winter training is unmatched, especially since no one has schoolwork.”
The Bulldogs return to action on Dec. 29 for the tri-meet with Florida International and Cornell.