On the cusp of an undefeated regular season with only two meets remaining, the No. 24 Yale women’s swimming and diving team is set to square off with Central Connecticut State Friday in the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.
The Elis are fresh off of a winter break that featured a plethora of training and three competitions, including a trip to Florida, Ivy League matchups against Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn and victories over Big Ten opponents Penn State and Rutgers. It appears that the added time together paid major dividends for Yale. After demolishing their break opponents by an average margin of victory that exceeded 157 points, the Bulldogs find themselves ranked in the latest version of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America rankings, marking the first time all season that Yale has been recognized in the national poll.
“We all received about one week worth of time to return home … and then immediately flew into Deerfield Beach, Florida, for training camp,” swimmer Destiny Nelson ’19 said. “We used this time to get in some tough endurance practices, but the week also allowed us the chance to really get to know each other. From doing cardio on the beach together to even just having every meal with your teammates, we were really able to bond as one unit rather than all being spread out over campus.”
Looking at tonight’s matchup with the Blue Devils, the Bulldogs have a clear advantage on paper. Of the teams’ 19 common swimming events, Yale reigns supreme. The Elis’ top time in all but one event trumps CCSU’s best time, usually by a significant margin. Yale holds an even greater advantage in the diving portion of competition. In the 1-meter diving iteration, the top six Bulldog divers have posted a higher score than any Blue Devil, and in the 3-meter dive, Yale’s top four competitors hold better scores than the best diver from CCSU.
For all of Yale’s supremacy, one of matchups favors the Blue Devils. CCSU’s Maddison Garber is the only Blue Devil to best a Bulldog so far this season, as Garber’s time in the 100-yard breaststroke of 2:14.55 narrowly edges the top times of 2:14.76 and 2:15.07 from Yale’s Paulina Kaminski ’18 and Cha O’Leary ’20, respectively. With all three swimmers posting “B” NCAA qualifying times, this event will likely be the most competitive tilt of the evening.
“We are definitely keeping the upcoming Harvard and Princeton meet in mind as we prepare for the Ivy League Championships,” Kaminski said. “They’re both great teams with a lot of depth, so having some good competition with CCSU is great preparation for what we should expect in the breaststroke events [against Harvard and Princeton].”
Looking ahead, the crescendo of the Bulldogs regular season looms with the aforementioned annual Yale, Harvard and Princeton meet on Feb. 3 and 4. Harvard is currently tied with Yale atop the Ivy League standings with an undefeated intraconference record, and Princeton tags close behind with only one defeat at the hands of Brown.
As the HYP tri-meet and the Ivy League Championships inch closer, redemption is definitely on the Bulldogs’ mind. Last season Yale was able to defeat Harvard en route to an undefeated regular season in the Ivy League, only to have the Crimson come out on top when it really counted — at the championships.
“We’re really focusing on taking the rest of the season one day at a time — each practice, each weight session, each meet until Ivys and NCAAs,” swimmer Isla Hutchinson-Maddox ’17 said. “Dethroning Harvard, who has won the Ivy League Championship the last two years I’ve been at Yale, would be a dream and one that we hope to accomplish together. It’s been a huge rivalry on and off deck, so its fueling our fire.”
The meet against CCSU begins at 5 p.m. on Friday.