Ryan Chiao

Fresh off a record-breaking season cut just short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yale men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams head into the next season looking to clinch a top spot in the Ivy League tables. 

The new recruiting class from the class of 2024 will do their best to fill the ranks vacated by the 15 graduating seniors across both teams, a group that includes an Olympic trialist in the 50-meter freestyle, multiple qualifiers in the NCAA Championships and a host of talented swimmers and strong academics.

“Swimming for Yale has simply been the greatest opportunity and honor,” Lili Margitai ’20 said. “There is no feeling more fulfilling than having a team of 32 strong, determined women all working towards the same goal day in and day out and then stepping up on the blocks not for yourself, but for the 31 other women that helped you get there.”

The men’s team (6–3, 4–3 Ivy) finished off the previous season by taking third place at the 2020 Ivy League Championships, as it matched its best finish in the last decade with a combination of standout individual performances and top-tier relay swims.

The men’s team matched its best finish in the last decade by taking third place at the 2020 Ivy League Championships. (Photo: Ryan Chiao)

During the championship meet, the Blue and White captured the 200-yard freestyle relay title for the first time since 1992. The quartet of Henry Gaissert ’20, Philippe Marcoux ’22, Joseph Page ’23 and Michael Blank ’22 followed up their strong regular season performances, edging out Columbia by just over four-tenths of a second. The representation from three different recruiting classes showcased the Elis’ potential for success this year, as well as its past pedigree.

“We were [within] striking distance of second and just needed a better start to the meet to be in position to win,” men’s associate head coach Kyle Schack said. “We have a lot of momentum right now as a team. We have been winning recruiting battles and performing better and better, so we will just look to continue that progress. … It’s not easy to replace this senior class so we need to continue developing leadership in our youth.”

All eyes will be on diver Christian DeVol ’21 after his consistent results over the course of the season. The Kimberton, Pennsylvania, native swept the field in both his events at the Ivy League Championships, earning himself the High Point Diver of the Meet award. 

Patrick Frith ’21 will captain the Elis in 2020–21 after a standout junior year. The distance swimmer posted the team’s best time in the 500-yard freestyle and placed fifth in the 200-yard butterfly at the season-end championship meet. 

The women’s team also enjoyed a successful season, capping off their efforts at the Ivy League Championships by fighting off five other Ancient Eight squads to take home bronze.

Though the Elis eclipsed the 1000-point threshold, their efforts were ultimately insufficient in overcoming longtime conference rivals No. 22 Princeton and Harvard, who finished in first and second place, respectively. 

The women’s team finished behind Princeton and Harvard in 2020. (Photo: Ryan Chiao)

The Blue and White were boosted by strong bronze-medal relay performances in the 200-yard and 400-yard medley, as well as the 800-yard freestyle events. The medley relay teams in particular should see strong results in ’20–21, retaining all of their winning members from the previous season.  

New captain Cate Sawkins ’21, a staff reporter and part-time editor at the News, will look to carry on the Bulldogs’ good form and lead the charge towards securing the elusive Ivy League title. The Chappaqua, New York, native recorded three top-10 finishes at the Ivy League Championships and will be eager to take new recruits under her wing and guide them with her wealth of experience. 

The men’s swimming and diving program has won four NCAA Division I championships.

Ryan Chiao | ryan.chiao@yale.edu