Don Clark

To conclude an up-and-down season, the Yale men’s swimming and diving team will travel to Providence for four days of championship conference racing.

The Bulldogs will look to improve on a tumultuous season of dual-meet racing at the Ivy League Championships beginning Wednesday night. The Elis, who recorded a third-place finish a season ago, are seeking to drop time in their performances and earn cuts to qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships. Since the Bulldogs last competed — three weeks ago against Harvard and Princeton — members have spent time training, fine-tuning their performances and tapering in anticipation of Ivies.

“Last season we graduated a lot of talent,” captain Adrian Lin ’19 said. “The only way to stay competitive this year was for everyone to elevate … when you know your team is confident in your ability to race, that’s when you perform your best. With our team being so united this year, look for first years and sophomores to be A finalists and racking up serious points. They know we trust them, and I am excited to see them execute.”

The Bulldogs, who have hovered around the middle of the pack at Ivies for the last several years, recorded a third-place mark last year thanks to a talented senior class and one fewer competitor than usual — Brown was in the midst of serving a hazing-related suspension and did not compete. This year, the eight-school field returns to full size.

The Elis began their season with a narrow victory over Columbia in their Ivy opener. The win, which avenged a similarly close loss to the Lions last season, signaled the strength of the roster’s depth and youth, with rookies racking up points from the get-go. The loss of powerhouse members of the class of 2018 such as sprinter Aaron Greenberg ’18 and distance swimmer Kei Hyogo ’18, who both finished on the podium at NCAAs, has been filled by committee since.

“We’ve relied heavily on a select few star athletes to get the job done in past years’ competitions,” Henry Gaissert ’20 said. “This season marks a departure from that expectation. From our first Ivy meet against Columbia, the first years and sophomores have done incredibly well in their races to follow the leadership of the upperclassmen and rise to the occasion for the team and put some points on the board.”

But Yale has struggled with consistency in its other one-on-one conference matchups. It dropped a dual meet to Penn and then — without any divers — lost by two to Cornell before emerging from HYP weekend with a pair of losses.

Dual meets, in which each team enters up to three scoring competitors per event and each event is swum just once, are scored differently from championship meets. In the matchups, points are awarded for first through fifth places in individual races and the first three positions in relays.

Championship meets include significantly wider fields, and competitors swim each event up to two times including one preliminary race in the morning. Morning times determine placement and seeding going into the finals.

At the mid-season Ohio State Invitational — the only other championship meet the Elis have raced this campaign — Yale swimmers consistently finalled. But they struggled with the evening races, often finishing in lower positions than their seeding from prelims. In such a long meet — the Ivy League Championships span an evening and three full days — energy and consistency will be key in determining outcomes in an increasingly competitive league.

“The speed and depth that the league has developed will be a great challenge,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “Diet and sleep will be big factors as we balance our morning and night swims, and we will all count on each other to keep up the team spirit and support our guys through all their events. We all feed off of each other’s energy, so team spirit will be a huge factor … adrenaline combined with good recovery habits will lead us to a great meet.”

Harvard has continued to be the dominant force in the conference this year after winning last year’s Ivy title by a margin of more than 300 points. The Crimson, this year’s Ivy League dual-meet champion, will look for its third consecutive and 26th overall championship this week.

The 2019 Ivy League Championships will take place from Feb. 27 to March 2 at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Angela Xiao |