The Yale men’s swimming and diving team took home fifth place at the Ivy League championships in Providence, Rhode Island, in a meet highlighted by individual swims.
The Bulldogs, who have weathered an up-and-down year in dual-meet racing, emerged from the four-day competition with a broken school record, several personal bests and a handful of close swims. Despite several podium finishes and strong relay performances, the Elis could not repeat their third-place overall standing from last year. With 1035.5 points, the Bulldogs settled for fifth — just 1.5 points behind fourth-place Columbia — while Harvard successfully defended its title for the third consecutive year, besting runner-up Princeton by more than 200 points.
“We all did a fantastic job of supporting each other on and off the pool deck,” Patrick Frith ’21 said. “We were all on our feet supporting our guys in the water whenever it was possible, and we were always supportive of our teammates. I’m extremely proud of how our first years stepped up to the challenge, and I’m incredibly thankful for and proud of our seniors’ performances.”
Yale began the conference championship in a similar fashion to its season, with contributions from all four classes. The Bulldogs opened the first day of racing with a pair of relays, notching a season-best performance in the 200-yard medley before diving into the 800-yard freestyle relay. Last year, the Elis grabbed a second-place finish in the race, helped by the efforts of two members of the class of 2018.
This year, that team’s two returning legs, Henry Gaissert ’20 and captain Adrian Lin ’19, teamed up with the sophomore duo of Frith and Tyler Harmon ’21. Gaissert, who qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials earlier in the season, notched a personal best time in the lead-off leg. When Lin dove in for the anchor leg, the foursome was in third position, behind the Crimson and Princeton. Lin pulled off the day’s fastest split to overtake the Tigers and follow up last year’s finish with another second-place finish in a time of 6:24.35.
Lin and Gaissert also found personal success in the individual freestyle events. The senior captain improved from eighth last year to sixth this year in the 500-yard finals after recording a personal best 4:21.80 in the morning that earned an NCAA B cut in the event.
Gaissert also broke a personal record in prelims. He touched in at 19.42 in the 50-yard freestyle and then went onto grab third in the finals. Michael Blank ’22 and Max Bottene ’20 joined him in scoring swims, finishing in ninth and 10th places respectively.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Lin followed up his league-leading relay split with a 1:34.56, good for second. Gaissert followed in fifth, and both earned B cuts.
On day three, Frith and fellow sophomore Tim Dorje Wu ’21 swam NCAA B cut-times, finishing in 10th in the 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke, respectively. Frith also later recorded a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly.
Later in the day, Wu and Frith teamed up with Gaissert and Harmon — who touched in seventh in the 100-yard backstroke — to race the 400-yard medley relay. With a time of 3:12.42, the junior and trio of sophomores broke Yale’s school record in the event. The historic time is the only school record the Elis have toppled in their 2018–19 campaign.
Through the first three days of the meet, Yale held steady in fourth place. The final day of competition began with another round of B-cut swims, with a personal best earned by rookie Cristian Bell ’22 in the prelims of the 200-yard backstroke. Bell finished fifth in the finals.
“Being able to swim at the height of your ability is tough to sustain throughout the four days,” Harmon said. “I was really proud of how the team swam as a whole, and in particular the first years.”
Gaissert and Lin also each qualified in the 100-yard freestyle with personal bests — Gaissert swam a 42.86 en route to second, and Lin touched in at 43.30 for ninth. Rookie Calvin Yang ’22 placed fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke to earn his own NCAA B cut, while teammate Sam Pekarek ’21 followed in sixth.
Yale closed out competition with a 2:52.79 in the 400-yard freestyle, good for second runner-up. Gaissert, in the anchor leg, gave the Elis another event-best split.
Despite the final day’s slew of standout swims, the Elis were ultimately edged out of fourth by Columbia, who picked up 27 points following a third-place finish in the 200 fly. The Elis defeated the Lions in a close one-on-one match-up early in the season but could not come out on top of the meet’s closest battle. Champion Harvard and runner-up Princeton both picked up their final outcomes handily.
Harvard concluded with 1432.5 points, and Princeton finished with 1209.5 — 90 points ahead of third-place Penn, who led the Lions by 80 points. Sixth-place Brown trailed Yale by more than 150 points.
“Looking at the placings can be deceiving,” Gaissert said. “Though we dropped from our third place performance last year, we had a much greater proportion of the team contributing points to our total compare to last year. Though we will once again lose a few key scorers to graduation, the bulk of our top performer will be returning next year and that’s very exciting.”
Yale was last atop the league in the 1972–73 season.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org