NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The men's swimming and diving team is ready to open a new era of Yale swimming, as Tim Wise takes over as Robert J.H. Kiphuth Head Coach of Men's Swimming and Diving from the legendary Frank P. Keefe, who retired after last season having guided the Elis for 32 seasons.
Wise was an assistant under Keefe, focusing mostly on the sprinters, who have provided more than 50% of Yale's points since his appointment to that position in 2004. Fittingly then, it will be a sprinter, senior Kyle Veatch, who will serve as captain this season for the Bulldogs, and look to build on last season's fifth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships.
Easing the transition after Coach Keefe's retirement will be the fact not only that Wise was such an integral part of the Yale coaching staff over the past few years, but also that the Bulldogs are in the hands of a more-than-capable leader in Veatch. A native of Cornelius, N.C., he was a second-team All-Ivy selection as a member of the 400-yard relay squad, and arguably Yale's best sprinter, posting top-five finishes in the 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle at points last season.
Helping Veatch lead the Bulldogs will be a strong class of six other seniors: Jason Choi (butterfly, backstroke), Sam Goldsmith (breaststroke, IM), Alex Gornitzky (backstroke), Matt Lee (freestyle), Zak Murez (breaststroke), Eric Olson (diving), and Nick Van Nispen (butterfly, freestyle). Choi was a force in both the 200- and 100-yard butterfly last year, finishing in the top five in three meets in both events, including a third-place finish (1:55.91) against UMass in the 200-yard butterfly. Goldsmith was one of the Bulldogs top breaststrokers last season, and Gornitzky turned in top-five times in both the 200- and 100-yard backstroke in multiple meets last year.
Lee has proven himself as one of the premiere distance swimmers in the Ivy League, earning Honorable Mention All-American honors last year. He was fifth (15:33.40) in the 1,650-yard freestyle at the Ivy League championships last season, and sixth (9:16.69) in the 1,000-yard freestyle. He also had four top-two finishes in the 500-yard freestyle last season, including a win against UMass (4:37.49).
Murez was a top-25 finisher in the 200- and 100-yard breaststroke at last year's Ivy League championships, and Van Nispen turned in top-20 performances in the 200-yard butterfly in three meets last season. Diver Eric Olson, the lone senior on the Yale diving squad, earned a win in the 3-meter competition against Penn and Dartmouth last year, and took second in the 1-meter against Cornell.
Yale will also be returning a strong core of sophomores and juniors from last season's squad. Among them is one of Yale's best sprinters, junior Goksu Bicer, who has established himself in both the 100- and 50-yard freestyle, as well as the 100-yard butterfly over the past two years. Bicer had one first-place and three-second place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle in 2009-2010, and two wins in the 50-yard race. He was absolutely dominant in the 100-yard butterfly, taking home five wins and a third-place finish at the Ivy League Championships (48.70).
Also crucial to Yale's success this year will be sophomore Mike Dominski who burst on to the scene in his freshman campaign, earning Honorable Mention All-American honors in a race that he rarely swam last season: the 500 freestyle. Dominski is tremendously versatile, however, and his greatest contributions last year came in the 200- and 100-yard backstroke, as well as the 100-yard butterfly. With two top-three finishes in the 200-yard race and four in the 100-yarder (including two wins against Penn/Dartmouth and Navy), Dominski will be counted on to lead the way for the Yale backstroking crew this season. The sophomore was also second-team All-Ivy in the 100-yard butterfly (48.45).
Dominski's classmate Jared Lovett should also prove an integral part of the 2010-2011 Bulldogs, largely for his prowess in 200-yard events: the IM, butterfly and backstroke. Another highly versatile swimmer, Lovett took first in the 200-IM against UMass, Navy, and UConn in his first season with the Elis. He also turned in three top-five finishes in the 200-yard butterfly, and two in the 200-yard backstroke.
Junior Christopher Luu will be one of the Bulldogs' top breaststrokers, taking home wins in both the 200- and 100-yard events last year, and classmate Matt Boone took third place finished in the 100-yard butterfly against both UMass and UConn last season.
Sophomore Sean Haufler came on strong at the end of last season, posting a 12th-place finish at Harvard-Yale-Princeton in the 100-yard backstroke (52.70), and will be counted on to step up in the absence of some of last year's senior backstrokers. Mack Puhl is also poised to assume a bigger role, having established himself in the 100- and 50-yard freestyle over the past two seasons.
Junior Scott Shinton will be one of Coach Wise's main butterfliers this season, having taken first overall in the 200 fly at the highly competitive Terrier Invitational (1:52.16) last season, and also taking home the win against Penn and Dartmouth.
Coach Wise and the Bulldogs will welcome 11 freshmen to the pool this season. Among them is distancer Mike Bogese, who won two Junior National Championships and was ranked second in the 1000-yard freestyle, fourth in the 1650-yard freestyle, and fourth in the 400-yard IM in his native Virginia. Also on Bogese's Nova of Virginia Aquatics swim team was West Cuthbert, a seven-time All-State, three-time All-American selection in the 500-, 1,000-, and 1,650-yard freestyle. Those two should lighten the load on Lee, who has been one of the Elis only distance swimmers the past few years, a role that is hard for many teams to fill due to the grueling nature of the races those athletes swim.
Yale swimming and diving will also welcome Pat Killian, who will give it a brother-sister tandem. Pat's sister Annie is captain of the 2010-2011 Yale women's swimming and diving team. Pat led his Nashville, Tenn., high school to its first state championship in 2010, and was a 2010 state runner-up in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
Connecticut native Ed Becker will give the Bulldogs some hometown flavor, joining the Elis as a Butterfly/Freestyle swimmer out of Fairfield Prep. Slightly farther from home will be Jasmeet Jernaill, a freestyler out of Makawao, Hawaii's Atlantic College.
The geographically diverse freshmen class also includes Danny Clarke, a USA Swimming Academic All-American out of Phoenix, Arizona, who was named City of Phoenix 2010 Young Man of the Year, and was his high school's most outstanding swimmer all four years of his career.
The mid-atlantic will be represented by Calvin Jones, a freshmen from the Pingry School in New Jersey who was a three-time All-American and member of multiple New Jersey state champion relay squads.
He joins three Virginians: Bogese, Cuthbert and Danny McDermott, who comes to Yale from the St. Albans School for Boys as the Washington Post DC Swimmer of the Year.
Robert Dowd (Boston, Mass.) will bolster the Yale freestyling crew and represent New England, rounding out the freshmen class.
In addition to lone senior Olson, the Bulldogs return two underclassmen: Colton Staab and Aaron Seriff-Cullick. They welcome freshman Tyler Pramer to the fold, an AAU National Diving Championship Runner-Up, and an All-American in 2009 and 2010.
As they did last season, the Elis open their season against Ancient Eight rival Columbia this weekend, though this year that meet will take place in New Haven, not New York City. From there, the Bulldogs travel to the Terrier Invitational and then to UMass, a team the Elis took down last season. A mid-winter trip to Ithaca is the Elis' first meet after winter break, followed by a home meet against Penn and Dartmouth the next weekend. Following a one-week break from Ivy League competition – one filled by a trip to Navy – Yale returns home to host Harvard and Princeton. A trip to UConn, also a win in 2010, is followed by a home date against Brown to round out the regular season, and send the Elis to the Mar. 3, 4, and 5 Ivy League Championships, hosted by rival Harvard.
With the strong core of returners bolstered by a promising incoming freshman class, the Bulldogs are poised to make Wise's first year at the helm a successful one.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity