After a grueling four-day meet, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team finished in third place in the Ivy League Championships this weekend and brought home 11 school records. By setting program bests in all five relays, the Bulldogs showcased one of their deepest rosters in recent memory.
The Elis hit the road last Wednesday for Princeton to compete in the 2018 Ivy League Championships. The Bulldogs have consistently competed in the conference championships since 2011 and finished in fourth place every year except in 2015, when they finished third. This year’s season finale saw the Elis once again breaking out of the monotonous fourth-place trend and into the top three.
Yale entered the finale having finished in a tie for second in the regular season standings and expecting tight competition from Princeton and Columbia, who shared Yale’s 4–2 conference record. The Elis overtook the Lions to finish third with 1138 points, behind an undefeated Harvard with 1630.5 points and Princeton with 1285.5 points.
“More than a particular race or event, I’ll remember what we achieved as a team in that final session,” Adrian Lin ’19 said. “We were in a really tight race with Columbia for third, and we needed every event to go our way in order to come out on top. Ivies is a long meet and the final session is always the hardest, but we all stepped up and got the job done last night.”
The Bulldogs had a strong start to the meet, setting two school records in relay events. Shawn Nee ’18, Tim Dorje Wu ’21, Henry Gaissert ’20 and Aaron Greenberg ’18 finished third in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:27.14, over one second faster than the previous team record set in 2009. A seasoned relay team comprised of Jonathan Rutter ’18, Lin, Gaissert and Kei Hyogo ’18 finished the 800-yard freestyle relay in second place with a time of 6:21.00 and out-touched the previous school record by more than three seconds. Yale closed out the first day in second place behind the Crimson.
The second day of competition saw the Bulldogs tally their first victory of the meet and break four more Yale records. Greenberg won the 50-yard freestyle, defending his title from last season. Gaissert took third in the event just a fifth of a second behind Greenberg.
“Individually, to defend my 50-freestyle title was amazing,” Greenberg said. “But as a team, I loved having the opportunity to help this team fight and move up to third place in the Ivy League. We were in a battle against Columbia and Penn all weekend for third, and to beat both of them shows that our team is moving in the right direction towards fighting for Ivy League titles in the near future.”
Younger members of the team showed promise throughout the meet. Diver Christian DeVol ’21, who placed fourth in the preliminary 1-meter dive, outperformed seniors from Harvard and Columbia to finish runner-up in the final event. He attributed his climbing from fourth to second to the “pressure of the moment” when competing in the A final of the Ivy Championships as well as to matching up against the toughest opponents he has faced yet. DeVol’s 359.05 points in the event broke a Yale record set a decade ago.
“Going into the final I knew that I had a serious chance to place well on the podium, and I just wanted to give it my all,” DeVol said. “It was a completely overwhelming experience. After the final had ended and I saw how I finished, all of my teammates rushed to congratulate me and our coach Jim [Henry] came over to tell me I had broken the record.”
Wu, a first year, set a Yale record in his first collegiate championship with his time of 53.85 in the preliminaries of the 100-yard breaststroke, and he also took part in two record-breaking relays. Gaissert competed in four record-breaking relays as well.
The Bulldogs finished third at the close of the second day and maintained their position through the final two days of the championship meet. The Elis continued to set new school records on the third day. Hyogo broke Yale’s previous record in the 500-yard freestyle as well as the record he had set in the 400-yard individual medley. Rutter broke the school records in the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard breaststroke. Lin finished the 200-yard freestyle as runner up, just a hundredth of a second behind his Yale record. Nee, Wu, Hyogo and Greenberg recorded a Yale best in the 400-yard medley relay to wrap up the third evening.
“The 200 breast is my favorite race but also one that I have trouble getting right,” Rutter said. “Being able to have my stroke and my back-end speed come together in my final collegiate race was thrilling but also long overdue.”
The Elis wrapped up the final day with more school records and their second first-place finish of the meet. Greenberg won the 100-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 43.19.
Gaissert again finished on Greenberg’s heels, coming in fourth with a time of 43.42 in a challenging field in which the top-five swimmers touched the wall within one second.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how the seniors raced this whole year, but especially on the final night of Ivies,” Rutter said. “As a class we proved that it is never too late to have the fastest race of your life, particularly if you’re swimming for something greater than yourself.”
The Bulldogs will find out next week which swimmers will qualify for the NCAA Division I National Championships.
Selena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org