A week away from their last and perhaps most difficult regular season meet, the Bulldogs trounced Central Connecticut State to maintain their perfect season in dominant fashion.
Friday’s competition pitted the Elis against an inferior Blue Devil squad, which provided the opportunity for head coach Jim Henry to alter his lineup and race many swimmers in events other than their specialties. Despite the lineup shakeup, Yale still cruised to a 158–80 victory in which the team captured 10 first-place finishes, nine second-place finishes and six podium sweeps out of a possible 13 events. The comfortable 78-point margin of victory fit the narrative of the Bulldogs’ season thus far, during which their average margin of victory stands at 127.4 points.
“The meet on Friday was a great chance for the team to just get in and race,” Bella Hindley ’19 said. “After a few weeks of really tough training and with our championship meets coming up, it was nice to not worry about our times and just have some fun. Most people were swimming their ‘off’ events, which again takes the pressure off and allows us to work on racing. We are really looking forward to [Harvard-Yale-Princeton] at home in two weeks, and to go undefeated all season would be incredible.”
Yale’s divers kicked of the meet with a fast start in the 3-meter diving competition. McKenna Tennant ’18 secured first place with a score of 306.68, marking a season best in the event for the junior. Both Samantha Traina ’20 and Olivia Loucks ’17 also scored points in the event as they grabbed third and fourth place, respectively.
Later in the meet, the trio of Talbott Paulsen ’19, Lilybet MacRae ’17 and Hannah Walsh ’19 dominated the 1-meter dive. Paulsen took first with a score of 336.48 followed by MacRae’s 311.83 and Walsh’s 302.63. The scores from the sophomore duo also established the pair’s new season highs in the Yale podium sweep.
“The divers had an incredible meet against CCSU and believe that it really showed that the hard work we have been putting into training is paying off,” Tennant said. “Right now, we are definitely focusing on the near future: predominantly HYP and then Ivy’s after that. However, I’m definitely taking each meet at a time.”
In the swimming portion of the meet, the Elis quickly established their superiority over CCSU. The Bulldogs began with a podium sweep in the 200-yard medley relay with the team of Jacquelyn Du ’19, Sophie Pilkinton ’19, Heidi VanderWel ’18 and Kate Rogers ’18 grabbing gold. They were immediately followed by a landslide victory in the 1,000-yard freestyle by Kendall Brent ’20, a podium sweep in the 200-yard freestyle by the trio of Bebe Thompson ’20, Danielle Liu ’18 and Mackenzie Franklin ’17 and a third podium sweep in the 50-yard freestyle from Amy Zhao ’18, Ashley Pales ’20 and Du.
The remainder of the swimming highlights included, a gold medal from Lili Margitai ’20 in the 400-yard individual medley and podium sweeps in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle from Hindley, VanderWel and Isla Hutchinson-Maddox ’17 and Destiny Nelson ’19, Sophie Fontaine ’20 and Lilla Felix ’19, respectively. Rogers also recorded a first-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke.
In the few events where Yale was unable to capture first-place finishes, CCSU took advantage of Bulldog disqualifications; the Blue Devils captured first, second and third in the 100-yard breast stroke and 200-yard freestyle relay on Yale disqualifications in addition to winning the 100-yard freestyle outright without disqualifications.
Next weekend, Yale will not race as it prepares to conclude the regular and Ivy League seasons against Harvard and Princeton at home in the annual HYP meet. The Bulldogs said they are confident that the tight-knit bond they have cultivated as a team will be a major asset going forward in a quest to defeat Crimson in both the regular season and the Ivy League Championship.
“Never in my 15 years of swimming have I been a part of a more cohesive and one-minded team and that makes us a force to be reckoned with,” VanderWel said. “If I was on the outside looking in, I definitely wouldn’t take a single member for granted. [HYP] is going to be one hell of a competition.”
Yale returns to action on Feb. 3 in its final home meet of the season against the Crimson and Tigers.