Despite recording its best performance against No. 23 Harvard since 2014, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team fell to the Crimson for the 25th consecutive year on Sunday, 225–128.
The Bulldogs were overmatched from the beginning, recording just 58 points to Harvard’s 123 on the first day of competition. The Elis put forth a stronger Sunday effort and scored 70 more points, but it was not enough to overtake the Crimson, which coasted to victory on the back of a deeper squad.
“[I’m] encouraged. We swam in most cases faster than we have all year, in some cases faster than we swam last year at the end of the season,” head coach Tim Wise said. “We need to spend the next two and a half weeks getting better. We need to come in here every day focused on training and working hard and doing the little things right. … We took a big step forward this weekend.”
Competition began Saturday evening and saw Harvard assert its dominance from the get-go. In the opening 200-yard freestyle relay — one of four all-important relays that award extra points to the winner — the Crimson easily took the top spot, its A relay team finishing 0.71 seconds ahead of Yale’s. Eli swimmers hung tough in the ensuing 200-yard freestyle, with Kei Hyogo ’18, Jonathan Rutter ’18 and Adrian Lin ’19 taking second, third and fourth, respectively. However, none could match the astonishing speed of Harvard’s Dean Farris, who roared to a time of 1:34.01 — the eighth-fastest time in the country this season. Subsequently, Harvard showed its mettle in the stroke events, taking the top two spots in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke as well as the top four places in the 200-yard butterfly.
Aaron Greenberg ’18 nabbed first in the 50-yard freestyle while Hyogo took gold in the 200-yard IM and the 1650-yard freestyle, winning swimming’s longest event by a mere 0.39 seconds, but the Crimson could count on racking up enough points among the lower finishers to counter all of Yale’s gains. By the end of the evening, Harvard led by 65 points, more than double the Elis’ total.
“I’m really proud of the way we competed this weekend even if the final outcome wasn’t what we wanted,” captain Alex Goss ’17 said. “Looking ahead to the end of the month, we had a lot of individual successes over the past two days, which bodes very well for our season finale.”
On Sunday, the swimmers and divers returned to the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool for another nine events. Once again, Harvard began with an overpowering relay performance, taking first by more than two seconds. Yale, however, put forward a series of impressive showings on the second day. Hyogo and Rutter took gold and silver in the 400-yard IM, leading to an outburst of cheers from the Yale section. Rutter later claimed the top of the podium in the 200-yard breaststroke. Nonetheless, the Crimson held on to its massive lead, cruising to a 225–128 victory.
Despite the uneven scoring, the excitement remained on the pool deck, particularly during a riveting 500-yard freestyle. With just 75 yards remaining in the race, Hyogo found himself battling three hard-charging Crimson swimmers in a four-way battle for the top spot. Fans from both teams exploded into deafening cheers as the swimmers crashed towards the finish, but it was the Yale fans that got their wish as Hyogo barely edged Harvard’s Brennan Novak at the end by 0.09 seconds.
“I was able to see Brennan the whole way,” Hyogo said. “I was quite fatigued after the 400 IM, so I wasn’t too sure if I could hold on until the end. Luckily, I was able to hold him off at the end, but he put up a good fight. It’s going to be an interesting race come Ivies.”
Diving was highlighted by two third-place performances by Chris LaBella ’20 in the 1-meter and 3-meter events with scores of 297.52 and 299.93, respectively. Wayne Zhang ’18 just missed the podium with a fourth-place finish in the 1-meter.
The Bulldogs conclude their dual-meet season with a record of 9–2, second in the Ivy League to Harvard’s 10–0. All that remains on the schedule are the Ivy League Championships, the NCAA Zone Diving Championships and the NCAA National Championships to which Yale only sent two swimmers last season: former captain Brian Hogan ’16 and Hyogo. The Elis will look to improve on 2016’s fourth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships, now a likely scenario after a season during which they felled every Ancient Eight opponent other than the Crimson.
The Ivy League Championships will commence on Feb. 22 in Cambridge.