November 14, 2009

Bulldogs Drop Heartbreaker to Columbia in Season Opener

 NEW YORK, New York - The season got off to a rough start for the men's swimming and diving team Saturday as they dropped a heartbreaking 151-149 decision to the Columbia Lions in a meet that came down to the final relay.

"It was a devastating loss." Robert J. Kiphuth Director of Swimming and Diving Frank Keefe said. "In so many spots all we needed to do was move up one place. It was a great meet, but it would have been better if we had come out on top."

The Bulldogs got off to a hot start, as Drew Teer and Eric Olson went 1-2 in the 3 meter diving. But the Lions struck back quickly, besting the Elis 1:34.11 in the 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:33.72.

Matt Lee took first in the 1000 yard freestyle with a time of 9:41.38, finishing ahead of Columbia's Chester Dols and Sean MacKenzie. Yale followed that up with a strong showing in the 200 yard freestyle, as Lugar Choi and Kyle Veatch took second and third with times of 1:44.22 and1:44.62, respectively.  The Bulldogs also shined in the 100 yard backstroke, as captain Tom Robinson edged out teammate Michael Dominski with a time of 51.62 to take the top spot.

But the momentum continued to shift, as Columbia snatched the two top spots in the 100 yard breaststroke, only to have Yale's Scott Shinton take first in the 200 yard butterfly; Shinton finished a convincing 2 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, Columbia's Robert Eyckmans. Yale then took second and third in the men's 50 yard freestyle, thanks to Goksu Bicer's time of 21.38 seconds and Kyle Veatch's 21.76.

Columbia seized the momentum back in the 1 meter diving competition, as Colton Staab was Yale's highest finisher with a 3rd place finish. He was followed by fellow Elis Drew Teer (4th) and Eric Olson (5th). The men's 100 yard freestyle also went to Columbia, but Veatch and Choi were able to reverse their finishes in the 200 yard freestyle, taking second and third.

Tom Robinson kept things rolling, taking another first place finish in the 200 yard backstroke with a time of 1:50.98, and freshmen Jared Lovett stepped up with a time of 1:56.13 to snag a third place spot. Steen and freshmen Dominic Kwok then took second and third in the 200 breaststroke, and  Matt Lee followed up his first place finish in the 1000 yard freestyle with another victory in the 500 for the Elis. Bicer's time of 49.63 in the 100 yard butterfly gave the Bulldogs back-to-back victories, and Choi and Lovett took second and third, respectively, in the 200 yard individual medley to send their team to the final event - the 400 yard freestyle relay - needing only to take two of the top three spots to take the win.

Unfortunately for the Elis, victory was not to be Sunday, as despite a first place finish by the team of Dominski, Veatch, Robinson, and Bicer with a time of 3:05.56, the Bulldogs were unable to break into either of the second or third spots to finish just two points behind Columbia in the loss.

"Tom Robinson did a fantastic job in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke, Matt Lee did a great job in the 1000 and 500 freestyle, and Scott Shinton swam very well in the 200 butterfly." Said Keefe. "We lost the backbone of the team last year, and to be able to turn around with a whole new group of people is tough, especially when those were the guys we relied on all the time. New kids have to step up and fill those spots, and in many cases, people were moving in that direction."

Luckily for the Bulldogs, they won't have to wait long to try to continue that progress and avenge Saturday's loss. The sqaud will be back in action Friday at Boston University's Terrier Invitational in Boston, Mass.

"The championships are decided at the end of the season, and that's what we'll be looking for." Keefe said. "By then the freshmen will have matured, and we will continue to get better and better."

Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity.