Yale Athletics

Coming off an intensive preseason and a successful scrimmage against West Point, the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will look to put their practice into play as they take on MIT and Brown this weekend.

The two dual meets mark the beginning of the Elis’ competitive season, which takes place over five months and culminates with the Ivy League Championships at the end of February and the NCAA Championships in March.

After falling short to rival Harvard last season, the women’s team will be hoping for a strong start this weekend to stake its claim on the elusive Ivy League title. The Bulldogs have only fallen to the Bears once in their last 10 meetings and trounced the Engineers last season with a final score of 196–81 — this weekend’s competition should provide little in terms of surprises.

“The team is very excited to go up against MIT and then take on Brown in our home opener,” three-time Ivy League Championship finalist Lili Margitai ’20 said. “We’re looking to win the close races in both meets, be the loudest team on deck in terms of cheering for our teammates and start our season off on the right foot.”

Reeling from a disappointing fifth-place finish in its previous season, the men’s team will be looking to right its previous wrongs and leave its opponents in its wake as it takes to the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool against the Bears and the Engineers this weekend.

After cruising to a 101-point victory against MIT in their first and most recent matchup, the Elis may use this as an opportunity to tinker with their lineup in preparation for higher-level opposition. This will also be an opportune time for the eight new recruits of the class of 2023 to acquaint themselves to the demands of college-level competition.

For freestyler Henry Gaissert ’20, however, there will be an extra edge to this weekend’s matchup against the Bears.

“It will be our first time seeing our former assistant coach, Kevin Norman, since he has taken on the head coaching position over at Brown,” Gaissert said. “Though we’re amped to have him back in New Haven, we are prepared for an interesting matchup with him on the other side of the Exhibition Pool deck.”

Norman, who also served as recruiting coordinator, was integral to the Elis’ recent success, with the 2014 and 2018 recruiting classes ranked 15th best in the nation.

Consistency will be the key to victory in the dual meet format used by the Ancient Eight’s regular season conference. In contrast to the wide array of competitors at championship and invitational meets, dual meets feature a head-to-head matchup between two teams.

Points are awarded for first through fifth place finishes and the top three results in relay races. There are no heats and finals, with each race only swam once — meaning that final point differential can come agonizingly close. In the 2017–18 season, the men’s team beat Princeton by a single point, securing a second-place finish in the regular season.

This season brings a new addition to head coach Jim Henry’s staff, with the Elis enlisting the help of volunteer diving coach Keith Miller.

Miller spent 27 years with the Harvard men’s and women’s diving teams, coaching divers to 15 Ivy League Championship titles. He is also well acquainted with national and international level competition, coaching the U.S. national teams in Vienna and Rome in 1995. His wealth of experience and knowledge of the sport will be instrumental in helping to propel the Elis back to the top of the league.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving season begins at 3:45 p.m. this Friday afternoon at the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.

Ryan Chiao | ryan.chiao@yale.edu