As many Yalies traveled to Boston for The Game, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team dove into three days of competition at the Ohio State Invitational.
The Bulldogs, who earned a narrow victory over conference opponent Columbia the week before, traveled to Columbus for their midseason invitational meet that was held Nov. 15-17. The Elis, who were one of nine teams present at the invitational, closed out the first day of competition in fifth and delivered consistent swims through the next two days to hold onto their fifth-place finish with 1483.5 points. En route to the finish, the Elis notched a series of personal and season best swims, including an NCAA-qualifying time by Henry Gaissert ’20 in the 100-yard freestyle. Beginning Wednesday, Gaissert will be one of Yale’s swimmers at the USA Swimming Nationals, a four-day optional meet before the squad returns to dual-meet racing against crosstown rival Southern Connecticut State University next Thursday.
“We had some great swims from many different members of the team, especially in the morning,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “We realize that such a long meet prepares us well for the Ivy Championships but will need to improve on our ability to step up and move up in placing in finals swims.”
Displaying the team’s depth, first years continued to make an impact for the Bulldogs — contributing clutch podium-topping swims for Yale in the close contest against Columbia.
On the opening day of competition, Yale’s “A” 200-yard freestyle relay foursome— composed of Gaissert, rookie Michael Blank ’22, Ryan Huizing ’20 and Max Bottene ’20 — grabbed a third-place finish with a time of 1:19.69.
The first day also saw several Yale swimmers qualify for the finals of their respective events. After the opening relay finished on the podium, all four members then individually qualified for the finals of the 50-yard freestyle. Gaissert and Blank both qualified for the A final; the former finished in 19.69 seconds to grab second and improve on his sixth-place finish in last year’s iteration of the meet while the latter came in ninth. Bottene and Huizing, in the B final, finished in 12th and 19th respectively.
In the 200-yard individual medley, Will Drexler ’19 qualified for the A final and finished in 10th while Tristan Furnary ’20 touched in at 19th, in the B final. The Bulldogs also qualified five swimmers for the B final of the 500-yard freestyle with finishes in 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.
While the Elis held onto their fifth-place berth through the second and third days of competition with more deep prelim swims — placing multiple members into each final — they struggled to outtouch opponents in the afternoon swims. In the 400-yard individual medley, the Bulldogs placed four swimmers in the B final and finished with the 17th through 20th spots.
Captain Adrian Lin ’19 and Gaissert qualified for the 200-yard freestyle A final, both improving on their seed placements by two spots — finishing in fifth and eighth respectively. Meanwhile, Tyler Harmon ’21, after swimming a personal best in the morning, touched in at 15th in the B final. Harmon then finished seventh in the 100-yard backstroke A final, an event in which Yale also saw three B-finalists.
“Prelims tend to be hectic and can fly by pretty quickly,” Gaissert said. “At finals, though, we always do a good job of creating an energized and focused environment that allows us to execute the little details.”
In the 100-yard breaststroke, Tim Dorje Wu ’21 qualified for the A finals, finishing in 10th, while Sam Pekarek ’21 and Andrew Schuler ’22 competed in the B final to place 17th and 19th respectively.
On the final day of competition, Frith and rookie Liam Bogart ’22 finished in 14th and 15th respectively in the 1650-yard freestyle. Bogart’s classmate Cristian Bell ’22, who has recorded several first-place dual-meet finishes for the Elis, swam a personal best in the 200-yard backstroke prelim, then bested that time again in the afternoon to finish in fifth with a time of 1:45.42. In the B final, Harmon and Bogart placed in 12th and 19th respectively.
Gaissert’s NCAA-B qualifying cut came from a personal best 43.32 time in the 100-yard freestyle, good for third. He was joined by Bottene in the A final, who came in 10th, while Yale also recorded 17th and 18th place finishes in the B final.
Strong morning swims put rookie Calvin Yang ’22 in the A final of the 200-yard breaststroke, where he finished eighth, while Wu and Schuler headed to the B finals. They placed 18th and 19th respectively. Yale’s depth was also on display in the 200-yard butterfly prelims, when four Bulldogs qualified for the B final. In the finals, the Elis recorded 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th places.
“The Ohio State Invitational gave us a lot of positive momentum heading into the back half of the season,” Matt Slabe ’20 said. “We are hoping to carry that momentum through the rest of our Ivy League schedule and are right on track with our expectations from the beginning [of the] season.”
Ohio State won the meet with 2653 points.
Angela Xiao | email@example.com