After beginning its season with an unbeaten streak in dual meets, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team emerged from its first weekend of 2019 competition with a split decision before rallying to earn a senior-day victory.
The Elis, who last competed as a full team in November at the Ohio State Invitational, dove head first into 2019 with a double duel against Ivy foes Dartmouth and Penn to ring in the new year in Philadelphia. Fresh off a training trip to Florida, the Bulldogs proved unable to repeat last year’s double victory, as they decisively defeated the Big Green 217–83 but fell to the Quakers 191–109. A week later, while celebrating the Class of 2019 at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool, the team notched another sound victory against Seton Hall to close out home competition for the season.
“We were quite broken down going into the competition [against Penn and Dartmouth],” Henry Gaissert ’20 said. “We had hoped to repeat our performance from last year and win against both teams again even though we decided to train through the meet to improve our postseason potential.”
Prior to 2019, the Elis took down all three of their dual-meet opponents, including conference rival Columbia in a narrow victory that avenged a similarly close loss last season.
Coming off an intense burst of training to prepare for the upcoming bulk of Ivy competition and the postseason, Yale continued to display the strengths that carried the team to victories in the early part of the season. With relatively few finishes at the top of the podium, the Bulldogs drew on their well-rounded lineup to deliver deep performances and keep themselves in the running.
“We had realistic expectations heading into our first meet after our training trip this year,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “The training trip holds some of the toughest practices of the season … We knew that the meet against Penn and Dartmouth would be a test of toughness both mentally and physically.”
To open the two-day Ivy meet, the A relay, swam by Edward Stolarski ’19, Tim Dorje Wu ’21, Ryan Huizing ’20 and Max Bottene ’20 grabbed a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley, touching in with 1:31.25.
The Class of 2022 continued its impact after losing a particularly strong senior class last spring. Rookie distance freestyler Liam Bogart ’22 — who had already racked up several first-place finishes earlier in the season — recorded the Elis’ top finishes in both the 1000- and 500-yard freestyle races, claiming a runner-up spot in the former.
Gaissert, who recently represented the Bulldogs at the USA Winter Nationals and earned qualifying times for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, handed Yale its first individual win. In the 200-yard freestyle, he won with a time of 1:40.16 in a tight race that yielded another podium finish for the Bulldogs. Captain Adrian Lin ’19 touched in third — just 0.38 seconds behind Gaissert.
In the short-distance freestyle events, Gaissert earned a pair of second-place finishes in the 50- and 100-yard races. In both races, other Elis followed him closely — Huizing and Bottene finished third and fourth in the 50-yard, while rookie Nathan Stern ’22 and Bottene came in fourth and fifth in the 100.
Both the backstroke and breaststroke races demonstrated the depth and youth of the Bulldogs. In the 100-yard event, Tyler Harmon ’21, Michael Blank ’22 and Cristian Bell ’22 touched in second, third and fourth respectively. Meanwhile, in the 200-yard race, Bell, Harmon and Stolarski finished in second, third and fifth.
The Bulldogs’ butterfly squad was similarly competitive. In the 100-yard race, Yale once again grabbed the second through fourth spots while the Elis posted third- and fourth-place finishes in the 200-yard contest. In another testament to their depth and strength in the strokes, the Bulldogs placed third through fifth in the 200-yard individual medley, with rookies notching both the third and fifth-place finishes.
The Elis closed the double-dual meet as they began it, earning a second-place finish in a relay with a time of 3:00.14 in the 400-yard freestyle.
“Despite our loss to Penn, the meet was a valuable exercise in resilience,” Gaissert said. “Many members of our team stepped up to the plate and gave their best efforts regardless of how sore they were. Even up to the last race, we refused to back down.”
The Elis quickly bounced back to earn a comfortable win over Seton Hall on Saturday as they celebrated the contributions of the senior class with a 191–97 win.
For their next contest, Yale will travel to Ithaca on Friday to take on Cornell.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org