The Yale men’s swimming and diving team followed up a dominant victory in its season opener against the out-of-conference Massachusetts Institute of Technology by drawing on the team’s depth to narrowly defeat league foe Columbia in front of a home crowd.
Buoyed by strong performances in the stroke events and the contributions of their rookie class, the Bulldogs, who fell to the Lions last year by just 28 points, clawed their way to a 36-point win. In their only home conference meet of the year, the Elis pushed each other to strong finishes throughout Saturday to emerge with a 168–132 victory. The day before, the women’s team also notched a victory against Columbia in the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool, and both squads are now two-for-two heading into next weekend’s Ohio State Invitational and the bulk of conference competition.
“In a meet like this, each and every one of us knew that, when we stepped on the blocks, we could change the outcome of the meet,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “Getting to race at home is such a phenomenal environment, especially with the turnout that we had against Columbia. Hearing a roar from the crowd every time a Yale name was announced really energized the team.”
Although Yale missed the top of the podium in Saturday’s first event — the 200-yard medley relay — the Bulldogs still touched in as both first- and second-runner ups. Depth continued to power the Elis in the close contest, as doubling up on top-three finishes helped build up the narrow lead. Liam Bogart ’22 followed up a win in his college debut last week with another first-place finish in the 1000-yard freestyle, when he took down several Columbia competitors.
But the Bulldogs were not pushed by their opponent alone, as they also took advantage of talent and competition from within their own ranks. In both breaststroke events, a pair of Yale swimmers challenged each other and packed a one-two punch. In the 100-yard event, Tim Dorje Wu ’21 finished first while Calvin Yang ’22 came in just behind him. In the 200-yard race, Wu and Yang again combined for the top-two spots but swapped orders as the rookie Yang recorded another win just two meets into his collegiate career.
“Going into this meet, we were all really psyched, because we were going to defend our home pool,” Yang said. “We knew it was going to be a very close meet, and every point mattered. I don’t think we were nervous for this meet — we knew we were ready. We were all just excited to race and put in all the hard work that we’ve done so far in this season.”
The team’s newest members continued to contribute clutch swims throughout the day — Cristian Bell ’22 registered a win in the 200-yard backstroke. Both backstroke races resulted in two top-three Eli finishes — Tyler Harmon ’21 pulled off first- and third-place touches in the 100- and 200-yard races, respectively, and Edward Stolarski ’19 was the second runner-up in the 100-yard race.
Continuing the Eli dominance in the stroke events, Ryan Huizing ’20 and Henry Gaissert ’20 finished the 100-yard butterfly in first and third, respectively, while Frith shook off the Lions in the 200-yard butterfly to grab another win for the Elis.
Another first year led Yale’s double down in the individual medley, as Andrew Schuler ’22 became the fourth Yale rookie to claim the top finish in an event on Saturday while teammate Tristan Furnary ’20 touched in third.
The Elis were slightly less successful in the freestyle races — they barely missed the top of the podium in both the 50- and 200-yard races but managed a first-place finish in the 100. Still, another pair of podium finishes in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, coupled with a strong performance from the divers, set the team just above the Lions.
“The meet was definitely close the whole way through,” Matthew Slabe ’20 said. “The entire team was mentally prepared for it to be a back-and-forth fight until the very end. We really fed off the atmosphere coming from the stands and were able to pull away in the back half of the meet. Everyone contributed, and it was a great team win.”
Yale will next compete in the Ohio State Invitational, which begins on Thursday and will span three days.
Angela Xiao | email@example.com .