As the Ivy League season enters its final weeks and championship competition draws nearer, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team is preparing for its final road dual meet of the year.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs will travel west to Ithaca to confront Cornell in their last meet before hosting a showdown with Harvard. The Elis will make their journey only a week after their first loss of the season, a 185–168 game against Penn State. The Big Red will look to earn its second win in what has so far been a disappointing season.
“The last month has been extremely productive for us, and I think we’re going to see a lot of payoff as we head into the final stretch of the season,” captain Alex Goss ’17 said. “We’re doing our best swimming of the year and are all really excited about what the next couple of weeks has in store.”
After earning their 1,100th all-time victory two weeks ago to extend their season win streak to eight meets, the Bulldogs were unable to keep the pace in State College, Pennsylvania, as Penn State overwhelmed them with its depth. The Nittany Lions captured all four relay titles and five out of six medals in the diving events, though Chris LaBella ’20 continued an impressive freshman campaign with a bronze in the 3-meter. The Elis remained competitive throughout, thanks in part to remarkable performances from Kei Hyogo ’18 and Shawn Nee ’18. Hyogo impressed onlookers with victories in the 200-yard butterfly, the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys and the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyles. Meanwhile, Nee claimed titles in both the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes.
However, these performances were not enough to overtake the Nittany Lions, and Yale suffered its first loss since Jan. 30, 2016.
Cornell presents an opportunity for the Bulldogs to get back on track. The Big Red have not won a dual meet since Nov. 11, when it bested Dartmouth 176–123. Since then, Cornell has fallen to Penn and Columbia, both of whom were narrowly defeated by the Elis, as well as Harvard and Princeton. History is also on Yale’s side. Cornell has not beaten Yale in a dual meet since 2011, when the Bulldogs struggled to a 2–8 record. Since then, the Elis have made short work of the Big Red, winning by more than 50 points four times.
Cornell’s best chance for event victories will come in the 200-yard medley relay and the 100-yard breaststroke. Against Columbia, Cornell’s medley relay won in a time of 1:30.33. The same weekend against Penn State, Yale’s relay finished in 1:30.93.
Big Red swimmer Alex Evdokimov won both the 100-yard breaststroke against Columbia in a time of 55.52. In comparison, Yale’s top breaststroker in that event, Derek Kao ’18, finished in a time of 56.75. However, Kao and Jonathan Rutter ’18 were much faster than Evdokimov in the 200-yard breaststroke, likely preventing a Cornell sweep of those events. Otherwise, Yale seems to have the clear edge in this weekend’s matchup.
This meet will represent the Elis’ final tune-up for their competition with Harvard the following week. The Crimson is ranked 23rd in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll and has eviscerated all of its opponents en route to an 8–0 record. Yale has not defeated the Crimson since 1992, but with its depth this year, there is a chance that losing streak might end.
This weekend’s meet with Cornell will give the Bulldogs a final opportunity to hone their race strategy before their most important challenge this season.
“I feel like our team is very well prepared to go into the championship part of the season,” Aaron Greenberg ’18 said. “The team has been working extremely hard all year and I’m excited to see how our team does going into the championship season.”
Yale and Cornell compete Sunday at the Teagle Pool in Ithaca. The meet begins at 12 p.m.