Tag Archive: Swimming

  1. Swimmers overcome height challenges

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    In swimming, size matters. But short swimmers are finding strategies to succeed.

    Tall swimmers are capable of propelling themselves more quickly through the water and can reach out farther to cross the finish line. The average height for an Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 200-meter freestyle is 6 feet 4 inches over the past 12 years. But shorter professional swimmers and swimmers at Yale use their ability to make quicker kick-turns and react faster to changes in the water to overcome height disadvantages.

    “Tall swimmers are at an advantage because they have bigger feet to kick with and longer arms, longer levers, to pull with. They arguably have to exert more energy to move their longer arms and bigger legs,” freestyle and breast stroke swimmer Andrew Heymann ’15 said.

    He added that smaller swimmers can overcome size disadvantages because they are more adept at feeling and adjusting to the flow of the water.

    The Yale men’s swim team, whose members average five feet 11 inches — shorter than their Ivy rivals — can look to the professional swimming circuit for strategies to succeed.

    South Korea’s Park Tae Hwan, for example, won the gold for the 400m freestyle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the silver in the 400m freestyle in London this summer. Park stands 6 feet tall, 3.6 inches below the Olympic average, and his body frame is smaller and less powerful than rivals such as U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and Sun Yang of China. Despite his size challenges, Park has developed his own distinct style of swimming that helped propel him to his medal-winning records.

    “Park lacked elasticity whereas he demonstrated strengths in his ability to react quickly. Tall and big players like Michael Phelps tend to be very powerful and rely very much on their power,” Roh Min Sang, Park’s head coach during the Beijing Olympics, told the News in an interview in Korean in August.

    Park’s first step to beating his competition was to discover the type of race that best suited him and then to analyze his rivals, such as Michael Phelps, in order to take advantage of Phelps’ weaknesses and emulate his strengths given Park’s smaller size, Rho said. Although Park has yet to best Phelps in a race, he surpassed rival Lochte in London.

    Because he cannot reach as far, Park must use one more stroke to cross the finish line than his rivals, though it takes him less time to make each stroke. This difference is less pronounced in longer events that require more strokes in total, so short swimmers like Park do not normally attempt the 50-meter freestyle.

    But even in longer events, arm length can play a decisive role. During the London Olympics, although Park was faster than Sun Yang, who stands 6 feet 5 inches, both players recorded the last touch at the same time because Yang could reach farther. Roh stressed that short swimmers can overcome this disadvantage if they push through the last stroke and stay focused on moving their arms faster than their rivals until the very end.

    “It was great to see him tie China’s Sun Yang,” freestyler Pat Killian ’14 said. “Sun is about six inches taller than him. Park’s pretty short. They were an odd pair on the medal stand.”

    Park enhanced his ability to breathe on both sides of the water in order to observe all eight lanes with both eyes. Through practice, he was able to better understand the flow of the water and how to react to it.

    Park’s technique of judging the movement of the water is also important for the Bulldogs.

    Breast stroke swimmer Danny McDermott ’14 said a swimmer’s “feel” for the water can be a decisive factor in his race, and the Elis focus on this factor in training.

    “Some people have a natural technique that allows them to efficiently pull more water than others, but it can be perfected through conscious effort,” he said.

    Roh added that maintaining balance is a crucial weapon for short swimmers such as Park.

    Like Park, Killian believes that balance is key and that a swimmer should know his or her body reacts in the water.

    “I would say that swimming is largely a game of balance, which is keeping oneself level in the water, and to master that, each swimmer has to deal with his or her own body, and that develops individual technique,” Killian said.

    Whereas the Bulldogs might look up to Park, the Korean himself looked to Ian Thorpe for techniques to overcome his physical disadvantages. But Rho and members of Yale’s swim team interviewed all said each swimmer must assess his own physical strengths and weaknesses.

    The Elis carefully consider which events they should compete in given their statures, and analyze body movements to maximize their power.

    “I have formed my particular technique through countless hours of training. My team at home did a lot of drilling and sculling, both of which help isolate particular body movements and make them more efficient,” McDermott said. “Breaststroke is arguably the most technically difficult stroke, and since I am smaller than most of my teammates and competitors both in height and weight, I naturally gravitated towards a stroke that requires more technique than brute strength.”

    Captain Jared Lovett ’13 said physical proportions might be just as important as height in determining a swimmer’s potential. An ideal swimmer’s body is a long torso, shorter legs, longer arms, big hands, and lean but not bulky muscle, he said.

    “Personally, I was lucky enough to have long arms, with my wingspan being longer than my height, and a long torso relative to my height,” Lovett said.

    He added that height definitely helps, but it is not a limiting factor in determining one’s speed in the water.

    Besides having a clear understanding of their physical limitations, the Elis looked to swimmers like Park and developed their own tricks to compensate for these drawbacks.

    “I do have a lot of respect for Park. He is well known for having a nearly “perfect freestyle stroke,” Lovett said. “He is also a relatively short Olympic swimming medalist, so his technique has to be perfect if he wants to keep pace with the taller players, and actually finishes his races really fast,” he added.

    Heymann ensures he is able to maintain a faster stroke throughout his race by practicing solid technique when fatigued.

    “Since I am at a size disadvantage, I focus on efficiency in the water,” Heymann said. “While bigger players will rely heavily on their strength and size, I am able to compete by making fewer technical errors while racing.”

    Yale took third in the Ivy League Championships last season.

  2. SWIMMING | Elis shatter eight records, but place fourth at Ivies

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    Fourth place at the Ivy League championships does not tell the whole story of the 2011-’12 men’s swimming and diving team.

    At the Ivy League championships in Princeton, N.J., from March 1-3, Yale’s 678.5 points were not enough to top Princeton’s (7–0, 8–0 Ivy) 1,049.5 points, Harvard’s (6–1, 6–2 Ivy) 944 points or Columbia’s (4–3, 7–4 Ivy) 715.5 points. Although the Bulldogs (5–2, 6–2 Ivy) earned the same fourth-place finish as last year, they broke eight school records, a clear indication of the team’s continued improvement.

    “It was happy but bittersweet,” Mike Dominski ’13 said, “We were very happy with the team performance, [but] we were disappointed we didn’t get third.”

    While Dominski said the Elis had hoped to place in the top three in the Ivy League, Andrew Heyman ’15 explained the Ivy League as a whole is improved from last year. Four teams from the Ivy League will be represented at the NCAA championships, a greater number than in recent years, Heyman said. Although Yale will not send any swimmers to the NCAA championships, members of the team point toward an improved dual season record as a sign of a successful season. Yale’s record jumped from 2–5 last year in the Ivy League to 5–2 this year.

    The swimmers also smashed eight school records — in the 500-yard freestyle, the 1,000-yard freestyle, the 200-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breastroke, the 200-yard breastroke, the 800-yard freestyle relay, the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley.

    The Bulldogs beat times that had been the standard for 20 or 30 years, Rob Harder ’15 said. The sheer number of school records broken is rare, even for the Ivy League championships, Heyman said, when swimmers taper to achieve faster times.

    “Hopefully [the broken records] will attract further recruits as we enter into the buliding stage and try to break into the top thre in the Ivy League,” Harder said.

    Dominski added that he cannot remember another meet in his Yale career that contained as many broken records.

    Harder had a strong individual meet and placed second in all three of his events. He broke the school record of 4:24.81 in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:20.66 and the record of 9:07.43 in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:04.64, and then continued his strong performance with a time of 15:17.50 in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

    “That’s a pretty impressive performance by a freshman,” Dominski said of Harder’s effort. Fellow freshman Alwin Firmansyah ’15 placed third in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:47.17, which took down a school record of 1:43.31. He also placed third in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:46.21.

    On March 9-10, Rachel Rosenberg ’12 represented Yale in the Zone Diving Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., but did not place high enough to receive a bid to nationals. Rosenberg took 10th on 1-meter with a score of 483.75 (final scores at the Zone Diving Championship combine scores from the preliminary and final rounds) and sixth on 3-meter with a score of 563.25.

    “I had a decent meet, but the goal was to get first or second on 3-meter,” Rosenberg said, “[so] I certainly wasn’t happy about it.”

    She added that if she had performed dives, such as her reverse two-and-a-half, to her fullest potential, she would have been in contention to place in the top two spots and qualify for nationals.

    Rosenberg still retires after a phenomenal final season at Yale. She won first on the 3-meter at every dual meet, placed first on the 3-meter at Ivy League championships and scored top 10 finishes in both the 1- and 3-meter events at the Zone Diving Championships.

    This year’s strong freshman and sophomore classes, as well as a promising group of recruited swimmers, gives the swimming and diving teams hopes for an improved season next year.

    “There were many school records broken [in the past], but not by a majority of freshman,” Dominksi said. “That’s good for next season and the upcoming years. This freshman class has a chance to do a lot.”

    Heyman called the record-breaking at the Ivies an indication of a “change in culture the team’s going through” for the men’s team that could break the Elis into the top tier of Ivy League swimming and lead them to place higher in coming years.

    On the women’s team, Alexander Forrester ’13 competed last weekend at NCAA Championships in Auburn, Ala. The highlight of the meet was her performance in the 100-yard butterfly. She headed into the meet seeded 16th, but finished an impressive sixth overall. Her time of 51.93 bested her own Yale record of 52.35.

  3. W. SWIMMING | Elis exit season with splash

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    There were tears of joy on Saturday as members of the women’s swimming and diving team realized they had reached their year-long goal — to place third at the Ivy League Championships in Cambridge, Mass.

    The team was behind only Harvard (1478.5) and Princeton (1310.5), and defeated Columbia (8–1, 6–1) by the small margin of 1075.5 to 1057. Captain Rachel Rosenberg ’12, who placed first in the three-meter diving event, and Hayes Hyde ’12 who placed first in the 200-yard butterfly, both had standout performances.

    “It was the perfect ending to our season,” Cynthia Tsay ’13, a freestyle and backstroke swimmer said.

    This meet has been the team’s focus since the beginning of the season. On the final day of Ivies, team members wore shirts that said, “One meet, one taper.” As the slogan suggests, Yale swimmers (3–4, 3–4) did not taper until the very end of the season, a sign of their discipline and dedication to their goal of third place at the Ivy League Championships.

    The team knew beating Columbia and placing third would be no easy task. Columbia had an impressive 6–1 record in the Ivy League and had defeated Princeton in a previous dual meet. But by the time Joan Weaver ’13 touched the wall in the last event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay, it was evident the Bulldogs had clinched third place ahead of the Lions. This year’s third-place finish is a substantial improvement over last year’s fifth-place mark.

    Rosenberg’s first-place finish in the three-meter diving event was a huge contribution to the team’s success. As a seasoned diver with victories on three-meter at every dual meet, expectations for Rosenberg were high, and she exceeded them. She executed even her difficult dives, such as a reverse two-and-a-half, to the best of her ability. She finished the event with a 340.00, which was over 40 points above her closest competitor, and earned her the honor of diver of the meet.

    “Every dive was as good as I could have I imagined,” Rosenberg said.

    The Elis enjoyed individual successes in swimming events as well as diving events. Alexandra Forrester ‘13 (52.53) and Hyde (54.36) took first and second in the 100-yard butterfly. Hyde won the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:57.65. Forrester set the Yale record in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.58 and took second in the event.

    Relays were also strong for the Bulldogs. The team’s first win of the meet was in the 200-yard medley relay, where Tsay, Hyde, Forrester and Athena Liao ’12 broke the pool record with a time of 1:41.05. They also won the last race of the event, the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:20.21). Forrester, Hyde, Tsay and Joan Weaver ’13 were behind Yale’s victorious Ivy League finale.

    The Ivy League Championships is the biggest meet of the season for Yale. The deck was packed with swimmers from every Ivy League school cheering as loudly as they could for their teammates. About half the Yale swim team lost their voices, Rosenberg said.

    The “energy level, excitement, and pressure are all inherently raised since [it’s] Ivies” Liao said in an email.

    While this meet marks the end of the season for most swimmers, some will continue on to NCAA championships. Swimmers with the best B cut times, a national cut-off standard, will advance to championships in mid-March. Although Yale swimmers with B cut times are still waiting to see if they will receive an invitation to nationals, the team is hopeful that Forrester will qualify in the 100-yard butterfly. As for the divers, Rosenberg and Paige Meneses ’13 will compete in the Zone Diving Championships on March 9-11.

    Forrester’s preliminary time of 52.51 in the 100-yard butterfly is well under the NCAA B cut time of 54.62.

    Princeton (5–2, 5–2) won last year’s championships while Harvard (7–2, 7–0 Ivy) took second place.

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  4. SWIMMING | Bulldogs dive into Ivies

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    The women’s swimming and diving team has trained all year for the tomorrow’s meet: the Ivy League championships.

    From Feb. 23-25, the Ancient Eight will face off in Cambridge, Mass. Yale is one of the only Ivy teams that has not rested for any other meet this season, and the Elis hope their two-week tapering period will shed seconds off their times this weekend. Yale’s goal is to place in the top three.

    “We’ve been training so hard for so long, we’re all really excited to come together as a team,” Hayes Hyde ’12, who specializes in butterfly and freestyle, said.

    This is the first meet this season the team will swim fully rested. The Bulldogs began tapering on Feb. 10, the day before the Brown meet. During taper, the team has lighter workouts. While a normal in-season practice consists of swimming about 5,500 yards, during tapering period the team swims only about 2,000-2,500 yards, Athena Liao ’12 said in an email. Swimmers also try to use the stairs less, walk less and generally minimize their physical activity outside of the pool.

    The is to produce significantly improved times at Ivy League Championships, the only meet for which Yale’s team rests. In a 200-yard race, for example, swimmers may be able to drop anywhere from two to eight seconds off their time, Molly Albrecht ’13 said. Hayes Hyde said she expects to drop about six or seven seconds off of some of her race times.

    The Bulldogs hope improved times will be enough to place them in the top three in the Ivy League. The team is projected to place somewhere between third and fifth, Albrecht said, adding that the team would not frown at a third place finish.

    “Third is definitely within our reach,” team captain Rachel Rosenberg ’12 said. “It would take every member of the team to step up and perform to the top of their ability.”

    The meet’s structure may help the Elis reach their goal. Teams are only allowed to bring their top 18 swimmers (divers count as a third of a spot) to Ivy League Championships. At regular dual meets, teams are allowed to bring their entire squad. A lack of man power is usually a disadvantage, Hyde said, because swimmers on small teams must compete in more events than swimmers on large teams. But since the cap on swimmers makes all teams the same size at Ivies, it helps “level the playing field” for smaller teams such as Yale’s, Hyde said.

    The championship meet is also scored differently than a regular dual meet. The top 24 swimmers score points at the Ivies, while only the top five swimmers count towards a team’s score during the regular season. Since so many swimmers have the potential to score, it is not enough to place first, Albrecht said, swimmers in all positions matter.

    While the main focus is on the team, there is also an individual component to the meet. If their times are fast enough, swimmers may qualify for the NCAA championships in mid March. Although swimmers can qualify throughout the year, qualification usually happens at the Ivy championships, since swimmers are rested and performing to the best of their abilities. Last year, no one on Yale’s women’s team qualified for NCAA tournament, and in 2010, only two swimmers qualified.

    But this year, the team hopes individuals such as Alexandra Forrester ’13 will qualify, and that one of their relays will also make the cut, sending four more Yalies to the tournament, Hyde said. The team has the best chance to qualify in the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays, she added.

    The NCAA championships will take place March 15-17 in Auburn, Ala., after the NCAA zone diving meet from March 9 to 11 in Buffalo, N.Y.

  5. SWIMMING | Elis fall to Harvard, Princeton at rivalry meet

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    Yale swimming and diving fell to rivals Harvard and Princeton at the H-Y-P tri-meet this weekend, but the Bulldogs said they are unfazed and are saving themselves for the Ivy League championships.

    The men’s team (5–2, 4–2 Ivy ) lost to Princeton (7–0, 6–0 Ivy) 285.50 to 67.50, and to Harvard (5–2, 5–1 Ivy) 268.00 to 85.00. The women’s team (3–3, 3–3 Ivy) suffered a similar defeat to Princeton (5–1, 5–1 Ivy) 231 to 69 and to Harvard (7–2, 7–0) 235 to 65. Despite losing by wide margins all around, members of both teams said they were satisfied with their performances.

    “Our times were great,” Joan Weaver ’13 said, “but the score wouldn’t necessarily indicate that.”

    For the Bulldogs, winning H-Y-P was never their primary goal. Unlike Harvard and Princeton, who rested swimmers leading up to the meet and wore LZR racing suits to gain extra speed, Yale continued rigorous training to prepare for the Ivy League Championships, which begin Feb. 23 for the women and March 1 for the men. For this reason, Yale was not concerned about finishing the H-Y-P meet in third place, men’s swimming and diving captain Christopher Luu ’12 said. Instead, the team’s goal going into the meet was to put up season-best times, he added, and many swimmers did.

    Since both Harvard and Princeton headed into the meet undefeated in the Ivy League, this meet determined the in-season champions of the Ivy League. At the men’s meet, Princeton was the victor, and at the women’s meet Harvard beat Princeton for the first time in three years. This in-season rivalry is the reason Harvard and Princeton rest swimmers for the event, while Yale, which does not have enough swimmers to compete against Harvard and Princeton, is more concerned with posting fast times at the Ivies than performing better than its rivals at this meet.

    Luu said there were too many best times to name all of them. A standout performance came from Alwin Firmansyah ’15, who finished his 200-yard butterfly (1:47.04) almost two seconds faster than any other swimmer in the event. Rob Harder ’15 also had a season-best time of 15:43.17 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, which earned him third place in the event.

    Diving was a strong point for the Bulldogs. Women’s captain Rachel Rosenberg ’12 won the one-meter diving event (267.65) and the three-meter diving event (292.3). In the 400-yard freestyle relay, Weaver swam a personal best time of 52.88 for her leg of the race, and the relay (3:31.20) took fourth. Hayes Hyde ’12 placed eighth in the 200-yard butterfly with a season best time of 2:03.16.

    Although Yale removed itself from the rivalry mentality, the atmosphere may have impacted Yale’s swimmers.

    “It always brings out the best in you when you see the level of your competition is higher,” Luu said.

    Harder added that while the meet was primarily a battle between Harvard and Princeton, any added pressure felt by the team was positive.

    The women’s team had a different reaction to the rivalry. During the first day of competition, the team was a little intimidated and did not swim as fast as expected, Weaver said. But the Elis were able to turn their times around on the second day of competition when they realized they “had nothing to lose,” she added.

    But Rosenberg said he is not sure the Harvard-Princeton rivalry had anything to do with the team’s results, as the swimmers approached this meet like a regular dual meet.

    The goal of the men’s team is to finish in the top three at Ivy League Championships. As of now, the team “feels good” about achieving that goal, Luu said. Harder agreed that the team is performing at the level it needs to in order to be successful at Ivy League Championships.

    The women’s team is also optimistic about its Ivy League Championships in late February.

    “We’re at a good point in our season,” Weaver said. “When we’re finally rested for Ivies we’re all going to swim very fast.” She added that the team will begin resting this week in preparation for Ivy League Championships.

    Yale’s next meet is against Brown at the University of Rhode Island, next Saturday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.

  6. SWIMMING | Bulldogs head to H-Y-P meet

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    The undefeated record of the men’s swimming and diving team (5-0,4-0 Ivy) will be on the line this weekend when it takes on Harvard and Princeton in Cambridge, Mass.

    The men’s teams at Harvard (4-1,4-0 Ivy) and Princeton (5-0,4-0 Ivy) are also undefeated in the Ivy League, and consistently beat Yale last season.

    Yale’s women’s team (3-1,3-1 Ivy) brings only one loss to the tri-meet, while both Harvard (5-2,5-0 Ivy) and Princeton (4-0,4-0 Ivy) remain unbeaten in the conference competiton. The winners of both meets are expected to be in-season champions of the Ivy League.

    “Anyone who said it’s just another dual meet has never been [To H-Y-P] before,” Christopher Luu ’12, the men’s team captain said, “The atmosphere is pure electric.”

    It is this atmosphere that has both teams excited for the big meet.

    “Morale is great,” said Luu. “People are getting fired up for this weekend,”

    Swimmer Joan Weaver ’13 said the women’s team is similarly excited. She called this the “most energetic” dual meet of the year because it has more tradition and more pressure than any other dual meet.

    Although anticipation for this meet is mounting, the team’s training has not changed. Both teams have their “eyes on Ivies” Weaver said. They are striving to race their fastest at Ivy League Championships in late February, which means neither the men’s nor women’s teams will be fully rested or tapered for this meet. Since this is primarily an opportunity for the Bulldogs to get in racing form for Ivies, the teams are unconcerned about their rankings in the meet, Weaver added.

    This is not the case for Harvard or Princeton. Swimmer Molly Albrecht ’13 said the winner of this meet determines the in-season champions, a title both Harvard and Princeton are pursuing. Harvard and Princeton have enough swimmers to rest more of their teams for the meet, said Luu, and with the in-season championship on the line they “have a lot more to prove.” He added that he believes Harvard especially, has more pressure since it is hosting the meet.

    The Yale-Harvard-Princeton rivalry is not all that lends intensity to the meet. At most dual meets teams must designate three swimmers in each event who can score for the team. If an undesignated swimmer posts a time fast enough to score points, they are not eligible to contribute to the team’s points. At the Yale-Harvard-Princeton tri-meet, all swimmers in the pool have the opportunity to contribute to the team score. Weaver said this means swimmers are “racing to their max.”

    Success at this meet would be a good sign for the rest of the season. Albrecht said most of the top swimmers in the league will be at this meet, so it is a chance for the Bulldogs to show their strength in the league. The women’s team is especially interested in proving itself after its fifth place finish last year at Ivy League Championships, Weaver said.

    The men’s team also hopes this meet will propel it into the final part of its season.

    “It would be a huge stepping stone and a huge confidence booster heading into the meet against Brown and going into the conference meet,” Luu said. The adrenaline created by the Harvard, Princeton rivalry may help swimmers post faster times, Luu added.

    The Harvard, Yale, Princeton tri-meet will take place today through Sunday at Harvard.

  7. SWIMMING | Teams break records, claim victories

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    Just two scrimmage meets into the season, Alex Forrester ’13 has already broken a Kiphuth Exhibition Pool record with her time of 23.24 in the 50-yard freestyle race against Colgate.

    Forrester, backed by a legion of strong freshmen on both the men’s and women’s teams, propelled the Bulldogs to victories on both Saturday and Sunday.

    On Saturday, the men’s and women’s teams both defeated McGill in a scrimmage, while on Sunday the women’s team claimed a second victory against Colgate, 164-79.

    “We swam really well,” swimmer Jared Lovett ’13 said. “We are even better than last year.”

    Yale dominated the scoreboard in almost every event during Family Weekend. The Bulldogs relinquished just three first place times to McGill’s top swimmer Steven Bielby, who won a narrow victory in the 200 IM by under a second.

    Forrester said a major part of Yale’s success this preseason has been the class of 2015.

    “We have a great class of freshmen,” she said. “They have great energy, and they’re really excited about swimming.”

    Tyler Pramer ’15, a diver, said the freshmen bring to the table not only great individual stats, but also a more focused mindset. He added everyone is always on the same page both in and out of the pool.

    The new mindset has brought both the men’s and women’s teams together to post their best times on Saturday. This trend continued on Sunday, when the women’s team jumped right off a long Saturday meet to win almost every event.

    The Bulldogs swiped the top three scores in diving. Paige Meneses ’13 capitalized on the one-meter diving event. Her consistency paid off with a first place win. Captain Rachel Rosenberg ’12 posted the highest number of the meet with an eight on her last dive, placing her second overall. Lauren Gardanier ’15 secured third place at the meet, locking Colgate out of a top spot.

    In the swimming events, Joan Weaver ’13 zoomed through the water, winning the 1650-yard freestyle 10 seconds ahead of the rest.

    “Joan had an amazing last split,” Forrester said. “She stood up and basically touched out Colgate on the final stretch.”

    The weekend’s meets have launched a strong beginning of the 2011–’12 season for the men and women’s teams, who are entering their second year with swim coaches Tim Wise and Cristina Teuscher and diving coach Chris Bergere. Swimmer Mike Dominski ’13 said the new coaches, along with a new freshman class, have positioned the team well for the first conference meet against Columbia on Nov. 12.

    “The team is so much more focused and driven by the sport,” he said. “The freshmen really impressed everyone, putting in some good times. This was a good race for Columbia in two weeks.”

    The Bulldogs will go neck-and-neck with SCSU in Kiphuth Exhibition Pool on Friday at 3:00 p.m.

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  8. SWIMMING | Elis prepare for first meets of the season

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    The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are ready to improve upon last year’s success as they face their first competition of the year, an exhibition meet against McGill at Kiphuth Competition Pool this Saturday.

    Last year the Bulldogs underwent several coaching changes and used the season as an adjustment period to acclimate to the new coaches’ programs.

    Cristina Teuscher, formerly a coach at Crimson Aquatics in Boston, and Tim Wise, formerly an assistant coach for the Bulldogs replaced Frank Keefe—who retired after 32 years—to coach the swimming teams while Chris Bergere came from Michigan to coach the diving team.

    “It was a big change,” Jared Lovett ’13 said. “We had a team that was used to the old coach, but once we bought into the new coach’s program it really got us going.”

    The men’s team ended the season placing fourth at Ivy Championships in March, up from fifth the previous year. At the same competition, the women’s team wrapped up the year with some of its best times of the season. Six swimmers, including Hayes Hyde ’12,who won Yale’s first and only win of the meet in the 200-yard butterfly, punched their tickets for NCAA Championship. And the diving team qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, a consistent occurrence.

    The Bulldogs are looking to start off this season on better footing with 17 strong incoming freshmen and a more rigorous training regimen.

    The diving team has always trained really hard, but diver Paige Meneses ’13—a two-time Zone qualifier—said that this year’s training program, featuring new dry-land equipment and a new diving routine, makes the team excited to post even better scores this upcoming season.

    “We feel like we’re getting stronger,” Meneses said. “Hopefully that will give us stronger results.”

    The men’s swimming team welcomes back a talented group of swimmers, including the three Mid-Major All-America awardees Goksu Bicer ’12, Mike Bogese ’14and Mike Dominski ’13.

    But Lovett added that the 10swimmers in this year’s men’s freshman class will bring strong contributions to the team.

    Although the Elis have only been in season for a month, Domonski said he has already noticed positive changes in the team dynamic.

    “This is by far the most focused we’ve been as a team,” Dominski said. Although swimming can be an individual sport, he said that beyond relay racing, the sport really does depend on teamwork.

    “In terms of the sport, you have to be strong top to bottom,” he said.

    This year, the women’s swimming team will compete with a larger squad with an incoming class of six swimmers and one diver. The team graduated three seniors, but welcomes back three of the four Mid-Major All-America honorable mentions: Molly Albrecht ’13, Athena Liao ’12 and Hayes Hyde ’12.

    McGill is a nonconference team that the Bulldogs last faced in 2007. Last weekend McGill swept both divisions of the Quebec Cup Meet—the first time in eight years—and won 10 races overall, including five of the six Quebec Cup relays.

    Despite McGill’s early season success, the Bulldogs are not worried about their first competition of the season.

    Lovett said the exhibition meet will be more important for the practice it can give the team.

    “It’s our first opportunity to… get some really good times,” Lovett said. “We’re trying to use these as tuneups for getting ready for Columbia, the first Ivy [meet of the season].”

    The women’s team will also face Colgate for a scrimmage on Sunday.

  9. W. SWIMMING | From injuries to records

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    There was no question in his mind that Athena Liao ’12 belonged at Yale.

    Don Galluzzi, the assistant coach and women’s recruiting coach of the swimming and diving team at the time, recognized the potential in Liao from the first time they met.

    “It was a no-brainer. She was a good student and a great kid. I saw she had fun with the sport.”

    Liao’s season to date includes multiple pool records, NCAA “B” qualifying times and personal best times. In the Ivy League Championship meet this weekend, Liao is a favorite to compete for the top spots in the breaststroke events, seeded third in the 100-yard breaststroke and second in the 200-yard breaststroke.

    But stymied by injuries, she has had an uphill battle to get to where she is now.

    Three and a half years ago, Liao, then a senior in high school, limped into Galluzzi’s office for the first time. She had just undergone surgery for an ACL injury suffered at the end of her junior year. Liao knew she wanted to swim in college but was concerned about the prognosis of a full recovery and her ability to contribute to the team.

    “Don wasn’t bothered by the injury and just told me, ‘You’ll recovery quickly,’” Liao explained. “Once other universities found out about the injury, they stopped talking to me. Yale was one of the only colleges that stuck with me to the end. That’s why I’m here.”

    Her freshman season did not pan out as well as she had hoped. Having just recovered from the ACL injury, she unexpectedly had to undergo surgery on her wrist, which had not healed properly after a bike accident during her senior year of high school. Sitting on pool deck for all but two meets of the season was not the introduction to college athletics that Liao had envisioned. She longed for the day when she could be in the water with the team.

    By the beginning of sophomore year, she was fully healed and determined to climb back to her previous fitness level and the times she had attained in high school. By the end of the season, she not only had reached those goals but exceeded them, achieving lifetime best times at the 2010 Ivy League Championships in what she considers her proudest moment in swimming.

    “I ended up doing a lot better than I thought I would,” Liao explained of her fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events. “It was one of my first times racing in three years because of all my injuries. It was really reassuring. … [I]t’d been a long while but I was still able to go fast.”

    This was no fluke performance. At U.S. Short Course Nationals this past December, she eclipsed her personal bests from last season, finishing with times of 1:03.43, 2:15.23 and 2:05.78 in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard IM respectively. By early last month, she was breaking pool records, creating her own momentum, and leaving prior injuries and competitors in her wake.

    At dual meets this season, Liao consistently topped the scoreboard and was counted on to swim at her best times in every race. At the dual meet against Cornell on Jan. 8, she won both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke races with meet record times of 1:03.94 and 2:16.47. Those performances were particularly outstanding since the meet took place at the end of two weeks of intense training.

    Liao has continued to dominate the breaststroke events. In the 200-yard breaststroke, which she perceives as her best event, she has been beaten only twice this season, once by Laura Gorinski of Navy and once by Olympic Trial qualifier Andrea Kropp of Princeton. Usually, she has easily outpaced her competitors and won by margins of over five seconds.

    Not only has she catapulted herself onto the Ivy League stage as one of the fastest breaststrokers, she also swims a strong 200-yard IM. The consummate team player, she swims these three events — the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard IM — in nearly every meet.

    “She has not complained once,” complimented head coach Cristina Teuscher. “It’s boring to swim the same event over and over again. To take each race as a fresh attempt, it’s very hard to do that. We could have put her in the 100 fly or the 100 free, or even take her out of a third event, but we were 20 girls and needed her in those events.”

    It is in her training that Liao has had the opportunity for variation and self-focus. She often opts to train butterfly instead of breaststroke — which to many teammates is a more challenging alternative — and incorporates a variety of drills into her practice and meet warmup routine. She even chose to train with the men’s team one day a week to practice under a different coach and workout regime.

    “When I think of Athena and what’s she’s done this year, it’s all her,” Teuscher said. “It’s her commitment. It’s how she works hard. She feels things out for herself of what she needs and what she wants.”

    Liao realized many years ago that she swam her best when she was relaxed and confident. To this day, unlike many swimmers, she does not scrutinize heat sheets or rankings before meets and rarely glances at her opponents before a race. Her goal in each event is to focus entirely on herself and her race, to concentrate on pacing and technique, and to get to the wall as fast as she can.

    Liao’s personality is not what you might expect from such a highly accomplished, determined athlete. To her teammates, friends and coaches, Liao is one of a kind — a mixture of humility and confidence, seriousness and spunk. She embraces the team aspect of her sport. Whether it be team dinners or making posters for Senior Day, Liao is there. She is as much a presence on pool deck during meets cheering for her teammates as she is winning races in the pool.

    Teuscher believes that Liao has struck the perfect balance between individual intensity and spirited support, as well between swimming and other extracurriculars. After swim practice, she often heads to rehearsal with her dance group, Dance Works. Members of the group said Liao is an invaluable member and, because of her fitness, can handle challenging moves that other members cannot.

    “She’s really strong and clean with her movements so I can always put her in the front,” Dance Works choreographer Yanyao Fu ’11 said. “She also has a really great mind for it. I’ve seen her teaching other members, clarifying some of the moves.”

    Teuscher confirmed coach Galluzzi’s initial impressions about Liao as not just a talented athlete but outstanding student and person.

    “She’s a role model. She’s humble. She’s a team player. She’s consistent. She does a great job balancing and is simply a wonderful personality.”

  10. M. SWIMMING | Male swimmers snap streak in final home meet

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    After a string of close losses this season, the men’s swimming and diving team came out in full force on Saturday. The teams dominated Brown 171–118 in the dual meet, placing first in almost every event. It was the final home meet of the season for the team.

    Going into the competition, head coach Tim Wise said he expected the meet to be very close.

    “The story of our season has been that we’ve been the team that’s lost a lot close races,” he said. “And this Saturday the team won a lot of close races.”

    This was the last meet before the Ivy League Championships, which will be held at Harvard starting on March 3. Wise said he hoped this meet will put the Yale team in a good position going into the conference meet.

    “Winning is a skill, and we’re trying to acquire that skill. We put it together on Saturday; we’re hoping to carry that momentum into the Ivy League Conference,” Wise said.

    The diving team started off the event with wins in their one meter and three meter events.

    “I thought my divers dove better than expected,” diving coach Chris Bergère said. “All three boys had high scores individually in one of the events for the season at this meet.”

    Bergère noted that the divers were very consistent and had a lot of confidence.

    Eric Olson ’11, the only senior on the men’s team, has competed all four years and ended his career with a win in the one-meter dive and a second place finish in the three-meter event.

    Veatch said that going 1–2 in the diving events before the start of the relay set up a good start to the match. The 200-meter medley relay team then dominated the Brown team, as Mike Dominski ’13, Sam Goldsmith ’11, Goksu Bicer ’12 and captain Kyle Veatch ’11 swam their season best with a time of 1:31.66, dropping over a second off their previous time.

    “[The relay] set the tone for the rest of the meet,” Veatch said.

    The men’s team followed the relay with wins in almost every event other than the breaststroke, with most races having Yale swimmers place first-and-second or first-and-third.

    And though Brown captured first place in the 100-meter breaststroke, Bulldogs placed 2-3-4.

    “It felt great to see all my teammates winning the close races and for us to finally get another win,” Dominski said. “After we won the [400-meter freestyle] relay I was thinking about the celebratory ‘Wenzel’ that I had waiting for me after the race.”

    For the seniors on the men’s team, it was especially gratifying to end this season with a win.

    “It’s been a tough year for us record-wise,” Matt Lee ’11 said. “As seniors, we definitely wanted to end with a win.”

    The dual meet had a larger audience than usual as many seniors had family members in the stands. Lee’s mother came from Michigan to watch his final home meet and his sister, who lives in New York, also came out to support his final home meet.

    Wise said the large turnout could also be attributed to the annual alumni weekend for swimming that was held.

    It was emotional not only because it was the last meet for seniors, Wise added, but also because it was a nice way for them to end their careers with a win, giving the Class of 2011 a 22–21 overall record.

    “If they hadn’t won, it would probably be the first time a class had a four-year overall losing record,” he said.

    There are eight seniors on the men’s swimming team.

  11. W. SWIMMING | Senior Day success for women’s team

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    It was simply a fantastic meet, head coach Cristina Teuscher said again and again. Almost every event was an outstanding race for the Bulldogs. With the largest crowd of parents, friends, and alumni supporters of the season, the women’s swimming and diving team embraced the spirit of Senior Day to conclude their duel meet season with a 171–129 win over Brown this past Saturday.

    The crowd was on its feet from minute one of the swim meet.

    In the 200-yd medley relay, backstroker Cynthia Tsay ’13 established an early lead of 0.91 seconds for the Bulldogs, which Athena Liao ’12 maintained throughout the breaststroke leg. However, as quickly as the Bulldogs had established their lead, it disappeared. Despite a strong butterfly leg from Hayes Hyde ’12, the Bears closed the gap to less than half a second. This week, the freestyle leg was swum by Michelle Huang ’14 who, despite a fast split of 24.00 seconds, could not get her hand to the wall fast enough. The Bulldogs finished second in 1:46.54, a mere five hundredths of a second after the Bears’ squad had finished.

    “This has happened to us a few times in that relay,” captain Annie Killian ’11 said of the close loss. “We’ve been struggling to find a freestyle anchor. It pretty much changes each week. It was a disappointing start to the meet, but we moved on.”

    Moved on might be an understatement, as the Bulldogs charged ahead to sweep the next event: the 1000-yd freestyle. Joan Weaver ’13 won the event with a time of 10:16.77 followed by her teammates Abby Nunn ’12 and Courtney Randolph ’14, who both finished ahead of the first Brown swimmer. Nunn touched second in 10:21.30 and Randolph finished third in 10:33.73.

    The 100-yd backstroke and 100-yd breaststroke were two of the closest races of the day. Versatile sophomore Molly Albrecht ’13 swam the 100-yd backstroke this week, and despite finishing in 57.85 — more than half a second faster than her winning time last year — was out-touched by Catie Pittman of Brown.

    “I couldn’t really see [Pittman],” Albrecht explained. “I was just plugging along. But I was really happy with the time. It’s not my favorite race, but I’m happy I got to swim it.”

    Liao, too, was out-touched in her race, the 100-yd breaststroke. Stroke-for-stroke, breath-for-breath, Liao and the neighboring two Brown swimmers were separated by just five hundredths of a second at the 50-yd mark. Liao fell just slightly behind on the last lap and finished third with a time of 1:05.08. Chelsea Dunlap ’14, who has been consistently the second Bulldog in this event all season, placed fourth in 1:08.91.

    The 200-yd butterfly was once again led by the Bulldogs’ duo of Hyde and Ileana Lucos ’11, who have consistently dominated this event all season. Hyde won the event this week with a time of 2:03.10 and Lucos finished close behind in 2:03.99. Both swimmers had season best times.

    The divers, too, had season-best scores and swept both the 1-mtr and 3-mtr events. Before the swim meet began, Rachel Rosenberg ’12 had six stellar dives on the 3-mtr board to win the event with a score of 306.15. This score was a lifetime-best and more than 30 points better than her winning score at this meet last year.

    “I had a great meet indeed,” Rosenberg said. “I did all of my really hard dives well. The judges were scoring pretty high so it was a bit inflated. But it was a fantastic final meet and everyone feels ready for Ivies.”

    Rosenberg also won the 1-mtr event with a score of 290.92. Paige Meneses ’13 finished second in both events and Christina Brasco ’14 rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs in third in both events.

    “Christina has done a tremendous job as a freshman,” Teuscher said. “She’s really improved. I’m so proud of her.”

    The second half of the meet was even stronger than the first half for the Bulldogs; they won all but two events. Albrecht won both the 200-yd backstroke and 500-yd freestyle, well ahead of her competition in both events. She finished with times of 2:03.37 and 4:58.71 respectively. In the 500-yd freestyle, Weaver finished second in 5:04.80 and Killian finished fourth in 5:07.17.

    “The 500 is always at the end of the meet,” Albrecht explained. “Joan, Annie and I always have a lot before it so it’s hard to make it the focus. I guess it teaches us good strategy and making do with being tired and sore, and just doing the best we can.”

    Rebounding from her close loss in the 100-yd breaststroke, Liao easily won the 200-yd breaststroke in 2:17.42 as her closest competitor, Brianna Borgolini of Brown, was disqualified in the final 50 yards. Dunlap and Randolph finished in third and fourth with times of 2:29.27 and 2:29.38 respectively.

    Two events later, Liao was back in the pool for the 200-yd individual medley. Neck-and-neck for the first 150 yards with Kristin Jackson, Liao fell behind in the final freestyle leg and placed second with a time of 2:08.19. Angela Lee ’14 and Nunn placed fourth and fifth respectively.

    Having scored 160 points — well over the 151 points needed to win the meet — the Bulldogs dove in for the 400-yd freestyle relay, the last event of the day. Lucos, Tsay and Hyde swam the first three legs, trading the lead with the Bears’ squad. Weaver dove in for the anchor leg six-tenths of a second behind, but with a determined last lap, surged into the lead to secure the win.

    This Senior Day meet did not end with tears or nostalgia for the seniors — the underclassman, though, may have had slightly different reactions.

    “I was on the last relay with two freshmen and I think they were more emotional than I was,” Killian said. “It was a really lovely meet and the underclassman did a great job decorating the pool and making us seniors feel special for our last home meet.”

    But there is still the Ivy League Championships to look forward to. With the championship meet less than two weeks away, the team has begun tapering, reducing the yardage and intensity of their training. The meet begins on Thursday, Feb. 24 at Blogdett Pool in Cambridge, Mass.