The Yale men’s swimming and diving team fell to Columbia by fewer than 30 points on Saturday, breaking its three-year win streak over the Lions.
The Bulldogs traveled to Columbia’s Uris Pool to take on their second conference opponent of their 2017–18 campaign. Yale did not give up easily, winning seven of the day’s 16 events and earning top-three finishes in several others. The Elis shined in Saturday’s freestyle events, but ultimately fell 164–136.
Columbia has presented intense competition for the Bulldogs in recent years. Yale eked out a four-point victory against the Lions last year, and Columbia’s win over the Elis in 2013 was decided by just six points.
“Columbia is always a tough opponent,” associate head coach Kyle Schack said. “They have a talented group of athletes and are very well-coached. Their diving program performed very well, and credit [to] their swimmers for pulling off some big wins … There were some tough battles in close races where Columbia came away with a win, and we were able to bounce back to win the next event.”
The Lions kicked the meet off strong with victories in the first two events. Columbia dominated in both the one-meter and three-meter diving events, with star first-year Swiss diver Jonathan Suckow winning both. Columbia’s Jayden Pantel, last year’s Ivy League diving champion, followed in second.
However, Yale’s Christian DeVol ’21 stayed close behind, placing third in both the one-meter and three-meter dives.
“Going in, I knew it was going to be incredibly tough competition. It was by far the two best divers in the Ivy League,” DeVol said. “It’s definitely helpful to watch divers of that caliber because you can kind of see the things that they do, just little techniques to try to make yourself a better diver, and learn from it.”
In the first swimming event of the meet, Columbia took first and third places in the 200-yard medley relay. Although Yale posted a second-place finish in the event, the Lions tallied 29 points from the opening diving event and the medley relay, leaving the Bulldogs playing catch-up from the start.
After conceding the opening two events to the Lions, the Bulldogs bounced back with a victory in the third event, as Kei Hyogo ’18 claimed the 1000-yard freestyle. Hyogo set the tone for the remainder of Saturday’s freestyle events, as Yale triumphed in all but one. Aaron Greenberg ’18 not only won the 50-yard freestyle but also set a Uris Pool record for the event with his time of 19.96. Greenberg went on to add the 100-yard freestyle to Yale’s list of victories, and Hyogo bested Columbia opponents to win the 500-yard freestyle.
“Breaking the pool record in the 50 freestyle was really exciting, and it is a memorable feat that I’ll never forget,” Greenberg said. “I’m very happy to be improving on my season best time week after week, and hopefully, next week at Ohio State will be even faster.”
The Bulldogs rounded out their dominance in the freestyle events in the final race of the meet by claiming first and second places in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Yale’s A relay — comprised of Hyogo, Greenberg, Henry Gaissert ’20 and Max Bottene ’20 — took first place at 3:01.00. Yale’s B relay — comprised of Philippe Marcoux ’21, Adrian Lin ’19, Tyler Harmon ’21 and Ryan Huizing ’20 — followed behind to place second.
“[Head] coach [Jim] Henry is a big believer in racing hard until the meet is completely over, so despite having already lost the meet, we wanted to end on a good note, and I believe we did just that,” Bottene said.
Although the Elis found success in the freestyle events, Columbia dominated in much of the rest of the meet. The Lions’ highlight came in the 100-yard breaststroke race, when they swept the first, second and third place finishes. Columbia also took home both first and second places in the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard breaststroke.
“Going on the road is never easy, and Columbia did not give us any breaks,” Greenberg said. “Dual meet season is difficult, and we need to be able to perform week after week, no matter where we are in the training cycle. This was a very tough loss for a program going through a coaching transition right now, but I believe that we will rebound from it [and] learn from our mistakes.”
The Bulldogs will have to recover quickly, as they will be back on the road to travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the Ohio State Invitational this weekend. The meet will begin on Friday at 10 a.m. and come to a close Sunday evening.
Selena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org