Steve Musco

While their classmates returned home for the holidays, members of the Yale women’s swimming and diving team returned to the pool to take on some of its fiercest rivals — ultimately adding three more wins to their already long list of victories in the 2018–2019 season.

After beating South Connecticut State 124–79 in their final match of December, the Bulldogs trained in Florida for two weeks before returning to the Northeast and competing against Penn and Dartmouth in Philadelphia on Jan. 4 and 5. Yale easily trounced both Ancient Eight rivals before turning around to host Seton Hall the following weekend for its final home tournament of the regular season. Against Seton Hall, the Bulldogs maintained their undefeated record while breaking multiple team records.

“We were encouraged and excited by our performances at Penn and Dartmouth coming off of a week of intense training,” captain Sophie Pilkinton ’19 said. “The focus was not on feeling, but rather on determination, racing and heart.”

In their tri-meet at Sherr Pool, the Bulldogs triumphed over the Big Green 244–56 and easily defeated the Quakers 237–63 over the two-day event.

Yale posted first-place finishes in 15 of the 16 events, including sweeps in the 200-yard freestyle, one-meter dive, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley. The Bulldogs’ top individual performances came from Izzi Henig ’22, Bella Hindley ’19 and Charlotte O’Leary ’20, who all placed first in three events or more.

“Dartmouth and Penn was a great opportunity to race after coming off an intense week of training in Florida,” Charlotte Hylinski ’21 said. “Though our training trip was physically and mentally challenging, it provided lots of team bonding that allowed us to come together against Dartmouth and Penn.”

The Bulldogs next shined against Seton Hall, sweeping the 200-yard medley and freestyle relays while showing a strong coordinated effort throughout the 24 relay legs. Notably, the top Yale finish in the 200-yard medley relay featured an all-senior relay in the last home meet for the class of 2019.

Meanwhile in the long-distance events, the first years led the charge. Ashley Loomis ’22 took first in the 1000-yard freestyle at 10:17.17 with Nathalie Eid ’21 following up in second. In the 500-yard freestyle, Alexandra Truwit ’22 touched first at 5:03.45 with a small lead over runner-up Lilla Felix ’19.

“Seton Hall was an exciting final meet for the senior class with pool records being broken in both swimming and diving,” Hindley said. “The hard work will continue through the next few weeks leading into our championship season and we’re excited for our upcoming meets against Cornell, Harvard and Princeton.”

The Bulldogs also found great success in the shorter freestyle events. Hindley set a Yale record in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.17 while junior Lili Margitai ’20 finished as runner-up. In the 100-yard freestyle, Raime Jones ’22 claimed the top spot with a time of 51.61 with Hylinski close behind in second. Bulldogs also finished in the top two spots of the 200-yard freestyle —  Claire O’Mara ’21 touched the wall first at 1:52.68 while Sophie Fontaine ’20 took second.

Yale particularly showed notable depth throughout the stroke events. In the 100-yard breaststroke, O’Leary led the sweep at 1:03.48 with MaryKate Buckley ’22 and Pilkinton following up in second and third, respectively. Buckley went on to claim first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:22.69 in a tight race against second-place finisher Ash Pales ’20.

The Bulldogs pulled off another sweep in the 200-yard backstroke with Cate Sawkins ’21 leading the team at 2:02.34. Bebe Thompson ’20 and Olivia Paoletti ’22 followed up in second and third, respectively. In the 100-yard backstroke, Jones claimed her second individual win of the evening.

Another Yale record was smashed when Destiny Nelson ’20 won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:59.41, more than six seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Pilkinton and Jones followed up in second and third, for yet another event sweep on the day.

“The team is especially rallied behind each other in support, which showed in honoring the seniors versus Seton Hall,” Pilkinton said. “Three women shattered long-standing pool records, all of whom are seniors, and made it known that this class is special in and out of the pool.”

Talbott Paulsen ’19 and Hannah Walsh ’19 made short work of the diving events, finishing first and second in the one-meter and three-meter dives, respectively. Paulsen also set her first Yale record in the one-meter diving event with a score of 345.82.

Looking ahead, the team will swim in its last match of the month on Friday. After a relatively quiet January, however, the Elis will have a high-pressure February, beginning with the Harvard-Yale-Princeton tournament, followed by the Ivy League Championships where the swimmers hope to regain the conference title.

“I think we have set ourselves up well for a great championship season and are just working on the details now in order to be ready in three weeks,” Nelson said.

The Bulldogs face off against Cornell this Friday in Ithaca, New York.