The Yale men’s swimming and diving team closed out last season with a slew of school records and a top-three finish at the Ivy League Championships. As it dives into this season, members will look to replicate and extend last year’s achievements, despite the graduation of a talented class.
The Bulldogs registered just two dual-meet losses last season, improving on the previous two years’ fourth-place finishes in the Ivy League Championships. With head coach Jim Henry now in his second year at the joint helm of the men’s and women’s squads, the Elis’ season will begin this weekend as they travel to Boston to take on MIT. Following their contest against the Engineers, the Bulldogs will look for redemption against conference opponent Columbia next week. MIT is a new opponent for the Bulldogs, who traditionally begin racing after a pair of scrimmages and have opened their last three seasons with victories against currently-suspended league foe Brown.
“We graduated an incredibly talented class both in the pool and in the classroom,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “Everybody has been doing their part to step up and help the team out. We’re definitely looking to redeem ourselves against Columbia in a tight dual meet that we lost last year, and we want to build off our success at the end of the year with a victory against Princeton and some good performances at Ivies. We know we graduated a lot of talent, but are also confident in our ability to maintain the high level of quality we all expect.”
Henry, who has served as head coach for the women since 2012, took on the dual role heading up both the men’s and women’s programs in April 2017, after the resignation of Tim Wise, who was with the Elis for close to two decades; Wise spent seven years at the helm before resigning.
In his time as the women’s head coach, Henry turned a flailing 3–4 conference record the season before his arrival into an undefeated and championship-winning season in 2017.
“The first word I’d use to describe [Henry’s] coaching style is organized,” Tim Dorje Wu ’21 said. “Each day of the week has a different focus on some aspect of swimming, whether that be pace, racing or technique … [Henry] believes it’s important to have the teams training and competing together but also respects that the two teams have different needs.”
The extension of his tenure to both the men’s and women’s teams marked the first time the teams have shared a head coach in seven years. Last year, Henry inherited a team stacked with returning talent, including a pair of 2017’s NCAA Championships competitors — sprinter Aaron Greenberg ’18 and distance swimmer Kei Hyogo ’18.
The duo continued to impress in their senior seasons. Greenberg successfully defended his 50-yard freestyle crown at the Ivy League Championships while Hyogo finished on the podium in the 500-yard freestyle, 400-yard IM and 1650-yard freestyle. In addition to their individual successes, Greenberg and Hyogo were part of several school record–shattering relays over the course of the year. Both went on to repeat their appearances at the NCAAs, alongside current captain Adrian Lin ’19, who is a two-time league championship runner-up in the 200-yard freestyle.
But many key players still remain. The record-setting 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays return half their members: Wu and Henry Gaissert ’20 in the medley and Lin and Gaissert in the freestyle.
In addition to its returning talent, the team also boasts nine new members in the Class of 2022, which includes eight swimmers and one diver. The rookies include a four-time All-American, several current or former high school record-holders and an Olympic Trials qualifier.
With a new slate of team members and Henry settling into his extended tenure, Yale will look to break out of the monotonous series of finishes it has recorded in recent history. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated Princeton — by just one point — in the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet for the first time since 2005. But, regardless, Yale has finished third or fourth at the Ivy League Championships for the past eight years.
Last year’s third-place finish also involved one fewer foe than usual, as the Bears were not eligible to compete and are not on the Elis’ schedule for this season. In March, Brown suspended its men’s team from representing the school in competition through the end of December due to alcohol and hazing violations. Until May, it was also barred from any team activity, including practices.
This year, to open the season, Yale will instead race MIT, one of the nation’s top Division III programs — for the first time in program history. The Engineers earned a 9–1 record last season and competed against a pair of teams from the Ancient Eight to emerge with a split decision. The Engineers defeated Cornell by a single point before falling to Brown by 89 points the next weekend for their only dual-meet loss of the season. Meanwhile, the Elis cruised to a dominant 122-point win in last year’s season opener against Brown.
No. 23 Harvard is currently the Ivy League’s only ranked team.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org .