Less than a week after defeating Columbia to extend its three-meet undefeated streak, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team heads to Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio State Invitationals, to face off against the fiercest competition of the fall season thus far.

The three-day event beginning on Thursday will match the Bulldogs up against nine other teams. The invitational will serve as an important test of the team’s skills against some of the highest-ranked swimmers and divers in the nation. Last year, the team secured a fifth-place finish and will look to improve on the performance amidst another stacked field.

“It is our midseason meet, so it is a good indicator of what the end of season could look like,” captain Sophie Pilkinton ’19 said. “Everyone is excited to come out strong, set the bar high, and begin paving the way for February.”

The 2018 Ohio State University Swimming and Diving Invitational marks the third consecutive year the Bulldogs will compete in the Buckeye State at the event, which the Big Ten university has hosted for the past fourteen years. Yale is the only Ancient Eight team that received an invitation to the prestigious event, evidence that the high caliber of its roster is being noticed nationwide.

“This is a celebration of the camaraderie, resilience, and focus we have cultivated so far this year,” Heidi Katter ’20 said.

The Elis face stiff competition over the next three days, with over half of the participating teams ranked in the top 25 in the CSCAA Coaches’ Poll. Formidable opponents include No. 2 Stanford, which, until March of this year, included Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky. Other teams that will present a formidable challenge include No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 18 Kentucky, which is defending its meet title from the previous year.

The Invitationals kick off on Thursday with preliminaries for the 200 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle and the 50 freestyle, in addition to the three-meter dive, with the finals for these events following in the late afternoon. Highlights of Friday’s competition include the 100-meter breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and the 1-meter dive, followed by the 1650 freestyle and 400 free relay on Saturday.

“I think we have a real chance to do well,” Bella Hindley ’19 said. “The times we posted against Columbia have given us the confidence we need going into Ohio State, and we’re looking to improve on those performances.”

Teammates interviewed by the News said that the event will be a rewarding opportunity for Yale to test its skills against top-tier competition, providing vital experience as it pushes onward through the fall season and prepares for the NCAA Division I National Championships in March. The Bulldogs will take the following week off before competing in the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in Greensboro, S.C., the team’s most important event of 2018. A final matchup against Southern Connecticut State on Dec. 6 will round out the fall before the team returns to the pool during the first week of January.

The preliminary events of the Invitational begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio.

Alex Reedy | alex.reedy@yale.edu