Fresh from its winter training trip in warm, Fort Myers, Florida, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team began its push toward the Ivy League Championships with four victories over break.
On Jan. 7, the Bulldogs defeated the University of Pennsylvania 273–80 and Dartmouth 296–57 in Hanover. A few days later, the Elis continued their momentum, brushing aside Cornell 271–82 to claim their third Ancient Eight victory in as many days. Finally, the team finished its New Year slate of meets in a competitive face-off against Rutgers that finished 145–98. While the swim team has been battling the flu recently, its performances in the pool have not dropped, leaving Yale well placed for upcoming meets against Seton Hall, Navy, Harvard and Princeton before championship season starts in earnest.
“I was happy with the results against Cornell and Rutgers,” Charlotte Hylinski ’21 said. “Cornell is a good competitor, but our team was able to swim pretty fast despite the tough training we had been enduring the previous week, and coming off two days of racing against Penn and Dartmouth. Rutgers was also tough competition and with a bunch of girls sick with the flu, we had to be strong.”
In Yale’s last home meet of the season, and the last home meet ever for the seniors, the Elis demonstrated quality across all the events against the Big Red. They finished in first place in 18 out of the 19 events and lost only the 400-yard freestyle relay by 0.06 of a second with a time of 3:30.74 compared to Cornell’s 3:30.68. Yale also swept the podium in nine races.
The Elis’ diving quintet owned the air and took the top four places in both the 3-meter and 1-meter competitions. McKenna Tennant ’18 monopolized the 3-meter event, and her score of 314.85 beat the nearest Cornell diver, fifth-placed Jessica Leipman, by more than 80 points. Closer to the water, Nikki Watters ’21 continued her fine debut season and clinched another first-place finish in the 1-meter event.
Likewise, the distance brigade paced the Big Red in the 1,000-yard and 500-yard freestyles. Cailley Silbert ’18 captured wins in both races while Kendall Brent ’20, Sophie Fontaine ’20, Carrie Heilbrun ’19 and Nathalie Eid ’21 filled out the podium.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Danielle Liu ’18 finished first with a time of 1:53.14. Teammates Destiny Nelson ’19 and Cheryl Xiang ’18 followed close behind with times of 1:54.23 and 1:55.16 in second and third. The impact of getting a victory in her final meet at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool was not lost on Liu.
“It was quite emotional,” Liu said. “Four years on this team has definitely flown by way faster than I thought it would, and imagining that that was the last time I would ever race in the historic X pool was very bittersweet, [but] to come out with the win just made it all the sweeter.”
Other top performers on the day included Heidi VanderWel ’18 and Cate Sawkins ’21, who took top spot in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and beat out Cornell swimmers in second place. Cha O’Leary ’20 and Ashley Pales ’20 swam to victory in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke while captain Paulina Kaminski ’18 secured second place in both. Hylinski and Maddie Zimmerman ’18 led the butterflyers to wins in the 200- and 100-yard fly, with Hylinski just edging Fontaine for top of the podium.
In sprinting, Bella Hindley ’19 gave an all-action performance en route to first place finishes in both the 50-yard free and the 100-yard individual medley. She displayed excellent consistency, and her time of 23.26 in the 50 free was within 0.01 seconds of the 23.25 freestyle leg she dropped in the Eli’s victorious 200-yard freestyle relay. Claire O’Mara ’21 and Kate Rogers ’18 had to fight off a challenge from Cornell’s Sarah Baturka, who set a season best 52.61 in the 100-yard free, but the Bulldogs came away with the victory after swimming a brisk 52.08 and 52.34.
In its third meet in a week, Yale defeated Rutgers in New Jersey on Jan. 12, 145–89 in the first of a series of non-conference meets. Now the Elis set their sights on Seton Hall and Navy to close out their January campaign.
“Our meet against Navy I think is going to be a close one but I think it’ll be good preparation for the upcoming meets,” Hindley said. “The team is in a really good place at the moment, and as long as we keep training hard and stay focused until HYP and Ivies, I think we will have a great season.”
Yale face Seton Hall away this Friday at 4 p.m.
Caleb Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org