Julia Henry

While many students cheered and jeered in the Yale Bowl as they watched the Elis demolish Harvard in The Game, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team was busy securing a fifth-place finish at the 13-team Ohio State Invitational.

After driving nearly 650 miles from New Haven to Columbus, Ohio, the Bulldogs ditched the bus for the pool in the three-day meet. This competition featured a number of high-powered teams including No. 12 North Carolina State, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 18 Notre Dame and host No. 23 Ohio State.

When the ripples settled, Kentucky took home first with 733 points while the other nationally ranked teams placed second through fourth, all with over 600 points. Finishing 349 points behind fourth-place Ohio State, Yale still took home fifth place with a score of 293.

“Earning a fifth-place finish among the teams that were present at the Ohio State Invitational is an incredible feat,” captain Paulina Kaminski ’18 said. “The teams that scored points above us are all powerhouse teams ranked in the top 25 teams in the nation. It is encouraging to see that we did so well in the middle of the season, but we hope to improve on the performance by working to be a little better day by day.”

Bella Hindley ’19 continued her strong season and made the A-Final for the 100-yard freestyle. Following her preliminary time of 48.99 seconds — the top time in qualifying — Hindley impressed in the water and finished in sixth place with a time of 49.42 seconds, trailing fourth and fifth place by a little more than a tenth of a second.

Matching Hindley’s performance, Cha O’Leary ’20 surged through the pool to claim sixth place in the 200-yard breaststroke. Her time of 2:12.44 was just a half second off NC State’s Julia Poole who finished ahead of O’Leary but a whopping three seconds ahead of seventh-place finisher Meaghan O’Donnell of Notre Dame. O’Leary’s final time was nearly two seconds better than her preliminary time.

Kaminski raced in the B-Final and posted 2:17.62, a season best finish, that handed her 18th place overall in the event.

In the 200-yard backstroke, the Elis did not qualify for the A-Final; however, Destiny Nelson ’19 won the B-Final with a time of 1:56.56, and Cate Sawkins ’21 won the C-Final with a personal best.

Cailley Silbert ’18 led the Elis’ distance brigade and scored points in the 1,650-yard freestyle, a distance that the Bulldogs have not competed in yet this year. She finished the event in 10th place with a time of 16:32.15, while fellow Elis Kendall Brent ’20, Elizabeth Felix ’19, Danielle Liu ’18, and Nathalie Eid ’21 all also finished in the top 30.

“It was an amazing experience to go to a meet like that as a team,” Eid said. “It was also really humbling to swim against other colleges that were really fast. I think because it was my first travel meet swimming for Yale, I learned a lot about what’s it’s like to travel to a meet as a college swimmer.”

The Elis sent six people to various 200-yard butterfly finals. Finishing fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively, Carrie Heilbrun ’19, Sophie Fontaine ’20 and Bebe Thompson ’20 raced together in the B-Finals. Meanwhile, Maddy Zimmerman ’18 and Charlotte Hylinski ’21 battled each other for fourth and fifth in the C-Final. Additionally, Yale’s 400-yard medley relay defeated challenges from Ohio State and Kentucky to secure fourth.

Off the boards, Nikki Watters ’21 again dove well for Yale. In the one-meter diving event, she claimed a fifth-place finish while in the three-meter event she grabbed seventh.

The Bulldogs grew last weekend not only from facing elite competition but also from connecting outside of the pool, an experience that will keep them together as the season heats up.

“We all have completely different schedules and a thousand different things going on outside of the pool, so any time we all get to spend together outside of the pool is always beneficial,” Nelson said. “Travel meets give us that opportunity to really bond as one team and get to know each other.”

The Elis now prepare to face Southern Connecticut State University in their final meet before winter break.

Caleb Rhodes | caleb.rhodes@yale.edu