After a long preseason, the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams glided to wins over MIT and Brown at the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool last weekend.
The men’s team bested Brown with a score of 164–136 and beat MIT by a resounding 39-point margin. Equally dominant results were recorded by the women’s team, with an impressive 168–74 victory over the Engineers and a 173–127 win against the Bears.
New transfer and ex-USC swimmer Caitlin Tycz ’22 got her Yale career off to a flying start with a win in the 100-yard butterfly. Her time of 55.33 was just over three seconds slower than her personal best, but was enough to come out on top.
“I am grateful for this second chance to wear a Yale cap and race not only for the University but for my teammates as well,” Tycz said. “The overwhelming support, positive energy and joy that this team brings to the pool deck is unmatched. Because of my teammates, I’ve fallen in love with swimming again.”
This weekend marked the first foray into collegiate-level competition for the Elis’ new swimmers, with many of them floating atop the competition.
Jami Rzepecki ’23 and Connor Lee ’23 recorded wins in the 1000-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly, respectively. A time of 44.78 was more than enough for Joseph Page ’23 to cruise to victory in the 100-yard freestyle against Brown.
Touching the wall at 56.49, Jamie Yeh ’23 came out with a win in the first event of her collegiate career in the 100-yard backstroke against Brown. Against MIT, Ophelia Pilkinton ’23 placed first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51.18.
Racing alongside seasoned veterans Max Bottene ’20, Tim Dorje Wu ’21, Henry Gaissert ’20 and first-year Greg Kalin ’23 helped guide the 200-yard relay team to a win over MIT.
“The amount of energy in this room is absolutely amazing. It really makes you swim above yourself [and makes you] put a lot of trust in your teammates,” Kalin said. “My events went pretty well but there’s always things that I can work on.”
The divers of the class of 2023 also made a splash during their debuts for the Bulldogs. Samantha Ho ’23 found success in the three-meter dive, sweeping away all other competitors with a score of 264.83. Former Junior Olympics competitor Jean Paul Ditto ’23 posted a 344.63 in the one-meter dive, finishing in first.
As the final swimmer touched the wall to conclude the meet, the Elis were spotted beelining over to embrace Brown head coach Kevin Norman, a former assistant coach for Yale.
“It was special to be back, definitely a little emotional at first, but once I started warming my team up, I was in full meet mode,” Norman said. “The Yale swimmers gave me space to prepare and to coach my team, but after the meet, their warm reception meant a lot. They’re a special group.”
Norman, who worked with the Elis for nine years, played a crucial role in their recent successes. As recruiting coordinator, his 2014 and 2018 recruiting classes were ranked 15th best in the nation. Many of the upperclassmen’s current achievements are a direct result of his previous efforts.
According to Norman, his current position at Brown was one that he had been well-prepared for through his time working with Yale head coach Jim Henry and former head coach Tim Wise in New Haven.
The Elis now shift their focus to the first away meet of the season at Columbia this weekend, with the women racing on Friday, and the men’s races taking place on Saturday.
The men’s team will hope to carry their successes forward when they take on the Lions. Their past two matchups have resulted in narrow point differentials, falling by 28 points in the 2017–18 season, and winning with a score of 168–132 last season.
After a resounding 205–90 win in its last meeting with Columbia, the women’s team will be hoping for a repeat of the fast times and successful swims that they displayed at home.
There are 16 new recruits in the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.
Ryan Chiao | firstname.lastname@example.org