Before the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams jump headfirst into 2019 with a meet against a pair of Ivy opponents, the Bulldogs will first look to close out 2018 with a win against a local foe.
The Elis, who have not raced as a complete team since the Ohio State Invitational, which began Nov. 15 in Columbus, Ohio, will travel just two miles down the road from their home pool to take on Southern Connecticut State University on Thursday for their final meet of the calendar year. While most Yalies will still be enjoying their winter breaks, the Bulldogs will be back on the blocks in Philadelphia for back-to-back meets on the first Friday and Saturday of January, racing Penn and Dartmouth, respectively.
“The team has had a great fall season with some great racing and also hard training,” Bella Hindley ’19 said. “I’m confident that we’ll remain undefeated in Ivy League duel meets, and win the Ivy League Championships at the end of the season.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams are currently undefeated in dual meet racing.
The men opened the season with a 101-point thrashing of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and improved on early results to narrowly beat a Columbia squad that defeated the Elis in a similarly close contest last season. Since earning the home victory against the Lions, most members of the team have not raced since the Ohio State Invitational. The notable exception — Henry Gaissert ’20 — represented the Bulldogs at USA Swimming Winter Nationals last week, earning a ticket to Olympic Trials with a 22.94 time in the 50-meter freestyle.
Competing against the Owls will give the Bulldogs the opportunity to test their training before winter break and swim a full breadth of events before Ivy season immediately shifts back into high gear in 2019.
“We’ve seen a particularly tough week of training so far,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “Thursday will be a good chance to race tired and broken down, a feeling that we will need to power through when we swim Penn and Dartmouth in the middle of winter training … we all recognize the importance of maintaining our fitness levels and keeping up the volume of training [even on break].”
Although rookies have already made substantial contributions in the team’s competitions thus far, the meets against the Quakers and the Big Green will continue to reflect how the team has adjusted to the graduation of a particularly star-studded senior class last spring. Last year, Yale cruised to victory against both squads. The Elis beat Dartmouth by a whopping 201 points and ultimately defeated Penn by a decisive 107 points.
Dartmouth has been similarly hapless this season and is still looking for its first win after registering two lopsided losses to Cornell and Harvard. The Quakers will prove more of a challenge. In their season opener, they defeated Columbia by a comfortable 1720-128 margin. Penn most recently fell to Princeton, whom the Elis triumphed over by a single point last year.
For the women, the matchup against Southern Connecticut State comes just a week after the four-day USA Winter Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, in which eight Elis represented the Bulldogs against the most accomplished swimmers in the nation.
Several Elis had standout performances in Greensboro, demonstrating the depth of the Yale roster. However, Destiny Nelson ’20 stood out with her Olympic trials qualifying time in the 200-meter individual relay, joining Gaissert as the sole two Bulldogs to qualify.
“I have not taken a day here for granted and am just enjoying the process,” Nelson said. “I’ve had the chance to learn so much from both my experiences at USC and Yale and am excited to be able to use that knowledge going into my final season swimming for Yale.”
First years have made a particular splash this season, which was evidenced by several notable swims from the rookies in Greensboro. Two first years swam alongside their upperclassmen peers at Nationals — Raime Jones ’22 and Mary Buckley ’22. In the final event of Nationals, Buckley finished 16th in the finals of the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:11.68, a personal best.
Meanwhile, senior swimmers are taking the opportunity to reflect on their collegiate careers and their experiences with fellow teammates as they enter the thick of their final season.
“While I am still reluctant to accept the fact that it is my final year swimming for the Bulldogs, I think as seniors we are happy with the atmosphere we have tried to foster this year, emphasizing swimming for our joy of the sport and each other,” Hindley said.
After the holidays, the Elis have a packed winter schedule marked by matchups against Ancient Eight rivals. Team members say these events will give them the preparation they need to make a run at reclaiming the Ivy conference title at the Ivy League Championships in February. Harvard dethroned Yale at the championships last spring.
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams take on Southern Connecticut State at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.
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