Before Thanksgiving break, the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams travelled to the Buckeye State to put their skills to the test against swimmers from some of the most competitive programs in the nation.
A slew of records was broken and personal bests were set at the Ohio State Invitational, an out-of-conference meet that spanned three whole days.
The men’s team rallied after its mixed performance away at Columbia the week prior, this time battling to a third-place finish above No. 21 Kentucky and No. 19 Virginia Tech.
Competition got off to a rapid start on the first day with Henry Gaissert ’20, Joseph Page ’23, Philippe Marcoux ’22 and Michael Blank ’22 touching in at 1:17.96 in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The quartet beat its seed time by 5.65 seconds, finished ahead of the second-place Ohio State team by more than a second and set a new school record.
The relay swimmers continued to find success in their individual events throughout the weekend. Marcoux swept the preliminary field of the 50-meter freestyle, besting Wildcat swimmer Peter Wetzlar by a single millisecond before finishing fourth behind teammate Page in the 50-yard finals. Gaissert finished second in the 100-yard freestyle final, touching in 28 milliseconds behind the first-place swimmer.
Page, Gaissert and Marcoux joined forces for the 400-yard freestyle relay, this time swimming alongside Nathan Stern ’22. The relay team continued its winning ways, taking third with a time of 2:53.44.
Liam Bogart ’22 cruised to a second-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke final with a time of 1:45.81.
Diver Chris LaBella ’20 placed 10th in the one-meter dive with a score of 262.70. First-year Jean Paul Ditto ’23 matched LaBella’s placing in the three-meter dive, racking up 286 points.
“For the first time in my Yale career, I feel as though we were able to give our Power Five competitors a true showing of our depth and preparation,” Gassiert said. “Starting with the first session of the meet, members across each of the four classes kept putting forth strong performances that propelled us to our third-place finish. Though we have a long road ahead of us between the end of the semester and our annual winter training trip, the team is excited to get back to work.”
The women’s team finished sixth out of nine teams, which included No. 14 Ohio State, No. 15 Kentucky and No. 17 Notre Dame.
Izzi Henig ’22 provided standout performances that helped propel the Elis to their total of 1044 points, finishing as the 19th-highest individual point scorer among all swimmers at the invitational.
“My main takeaway from OSU was an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I get to be a part of this team,” Henig said. “It’s an incredible group of people, and I’m stoked to see what we can do this season because I feel like [it will] be great. I think we also have a lot we can do better, which is encouraging because I know how good we can be. We can improve across the board, on both mental focus and physical skills; we’re only getting better.”
Henig touched in 11 milliseconds behind the first-place, 100-yard freestyle swimmer, coming second. She also placed third in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.59 and set a personal best in the 100-yard butterfly.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team, consisting of Henig, Lili Margitai ’20, Ashley Loomis ’22 and Raime Jones ’22 narrowly missed out on a podium spot, coming in fourth with a time of 7:16.59.
In the 1650-yard freestyle, Loomis and Ali Truwit ’22 finished within a hair’s width of each other, coming 18th and 19th, respectively, by a margin of two hundredths of a second.
According to Truwit, she is most proud of the team’s ability to go toe-to-toe with some of the fastest teams in the country right now at a major invitational.
“On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was happiest with my mile and look forward to continuing to train hard in the pool and the weight room with my awesome distance group,” Truwit said. “I’m excited for us to work hard and have some fun on our training trip in Puerto Rico over the holidays, with our sights set on getting rings with a win at All Ivy Championships.”
The Elis’ strong showing at this year’s Ohio State Invitational sets the team up nicely for an exceptional second half of the season. After three weeks of away competition, the Blue and White will return to the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool Thursday to take on local foe Southern Connecticut.
Races begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
Ryan Chiao | firstname.lastname@example.org