While the Yale-Harvard football game dominated the University’s attention over the Thanksgiving holiday break, the Yale women’s swimming and diving team challenged some of the top programs in the country at the Ohio State Invitationals, finishing fifth out of 10 teams.
The Bulldogs returned to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the prestigious event for the fourth consecutive year, evidence of the squad’s year-by-year success. With a final score of 1175.5 points, Yale earned fifth to match its performance from the previous year behind first-place No. 2 Stanford and second-place No. 13 Notre Dame.
“I think the Invitationals were a great test run for our end of season championship,” Charlotte Hylinski ’21 said. “We can all take away a lot from the competition in terms of seeing where we are right now, which included many swimmers swimming near their personal best times.”
Competition got off to an exciting start in the preliminary events Thursday night, highlighted by Bella Hindley’s ’19 record-breaking swim in the 50-yard freestyle. Hindley finished with a time of 22.23 seconds, beating Yale’s record that Hindley herself set in 2017.
While Hindley went on to place second in the event with a time of 22.28, Izzi Henig ’22 was not far behind, finishing just outside the top 10 with a time of 22.71.
The Bulldogs were particularly successful in the 200-yard individual medley. Destiny Nelson ’19 placed 19th with a time of 2:02.44, finishing less than a second ahead of captain Sophie Pilkinton ’19, who took 25th in the event.
The sole diving event of the night demonstrated Yale’s prowess on the board, with Hannah Walsh ’19 and Talbott Paulsen ’19 taking 11th and 13th in the three-meter dive, respectively.
After finishing the first day of competition in fifth place, the Bulldogs maintained their standing on Friday with competition beginning with the one-meter dive. Paulsen served as the sole representative for the Elis in the one-meter dive, where she placed eighth to score 258.65 points.
Yale competed fiercely in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke, placing three swimmers in the top 20 for both events. Lili Margitai ’20 out-touched her teammates in the butterfly to claim 17th, while Mary Buckley ’22 had the strongest showing of the Elis in the breaststroke with a 12th-place finish.
“Many women swam their best races on the last two days of the long championship meet, which indicates the grit and resilience to fatigue that will be crucial in meets like [Harvard-Yale-Princeton] and Ivies,” Bebe Thompson ’20 said.
Saturday witnessed the Elis return to the pool with vigor as they earned the team’s only victory of the invitational. Hindley claimed first in the 100-yard freestyle after swimming the event in 48.51 seconds, narrowly edging the second-place finisher by less than a fifth of a second.
The weekend concluded with the 400-yard freestyle relay, an event in which the Bulldogs found success. Yale’s A relay — which included Henig, Hindley, Raime Jones ’22 and Margitai — finished fourth. The Elis held on to fifth, finishing behind last year’s champion No. 18 Kentucky and No. 15 Ohio State who took third and fourth, respectively.
“All relays performed well with the A relays coming in the top 11 throughout the weekend,” Hindley said. “The standout relay would be the 400-free relay that placed fourth ahead of Ohio State and Stanford’s B relay. The divers had a great weekend on both one-meter and three-meter with Talbott coming in eighth in one-meter on Friday with 258.65 points.”
While the Ohio State Invitationals was the most important event for the Bulldogs of the season thus far, the USA Swimming Winter Nationals next week pose the most challenging test for the team this fall. Following that competition, Yale will have one more matchup at Southern Connecticut State University on Dec. 6 to conclude its fall season before resuming competition against Ancient Eight rivals Penn and Dartmouth during the first week of January.
The four-day USA Swimming Winter Nationals begins on Nov. 28 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Alex Reedy | firstname.lastname@example.org