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Bulldogs Ready for 2012-13 Season

Rob Harder. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Rob Harder. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

First Meet is against Columbia on Saturday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – At the end of this week the Yale men's swimming and diving team is set to begin racing.  The Bulldogs will open their season at home against Columbia, following on two weekends of pre-season scrimmages.

Yale's first outing of the year was a scrimmage at Colgate with Lehigh on Oct. 27, where the Bulldogs came out on top against both opponents.  Last Friday the squad made the short trip to SCSU to face off against the Division II Owls in another scrimmage, where Yale won by a margin of 235-59.  Based on these two performances, captain Jared Lovett is optimistic about the upcoming races.

"The team is looking great at this point in the season," said Lovett.  "Everyone's excited and working hard.  We're hoping to build on last season's success and I believe we have the tools to do that."

This year's senior class is rather small as compared to recent years, with just two swimmers and one diver in the class of 2013.  Lovett and Mike Dominski will lead the swimmers, while Aaron Seriff-Cullick is in his fourth year as a diver.  As freshmen these three finished fifth at Ivy's, then fourth as sophomores and fourth again last year as juniors.  When Tim Wise was brought on as Robert J.H. Kiphuth Head Coach of Men's Swimming and Diving for the 2010-2011 season the Bulldogs finished 2-8 in dual meets.  Last year the team turned that around to a 6-2 record in dual meets, and so the performance value of the team is definitely on the rise.  Depth, however, has hurt the squad at Ivy's these past few years as the team does not have as many swimmers to put up the points as other teams do.  This year's influx of nine freshmen to replace four graduating seniors should help turn that around.

Seven swimmers have been added to the Bulldog roster for the 2012-13 season.  Brian Clark, Jake Goldstein, Brian Hogan, Kendrick McDonald, Kevin Stang, William Yang and Victor Zhang will each call Kiphuth Pool home for the next four years.  This class was ranked 25th in the nation over the summer by  According to Yale's ranking Stang and Zhang are both expected to be good backstroke swimmers, while McDonald is expected to be Yale's top breaststroke recruit.

While the swimming side of the team graduated so many seniors last year, the Bulldog diving squad has traded one for one.  The team graduated Colton Staab '12 in May but adds freshman James McNelis.  Before coming to Yale McNelis was an All-American and All-State diver in his junior and senior years of high school.  He will join Seriff-Cullick, junior Cole Florey and junior Tyler Pramer, as well as diving coach Chris Bergère, in working to make Yale's diving contingent a reliable source of points this season both in dual meets and at Ivy's.

Among others Yale's sprinters this year will feature junior Paschall Davis, who took 13th at Ivy's in the 100-yard freestyle.  Zhang is also looking good this year, having arrived at Yale with some impressive results at the 2012 Speedo Junior National Championships.  Zhang competed individually in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter IM, but in the 400-meter freestyle relay his 51.37 split was the second-fastest time in the event that had more than 20 teams entered.

Last season Yale's distance group was mostly a one-man show put on by Rob Harder, who took second at Ivy's in the 500-, 1000- and 1650-yard freestyle to bring in second-team All-Ivy honors and NCAA B-cuts in all three events.  Hogan is a distance specialist and will be a big help to Harder this year, but there is plenty of talent among the upperclassmen as well.  Harder's classmate Josh Ginsborg took fifth place in the 500 at Ivy's and while Harder's 500 time broke the Yale record by almost four full seconds, Dominski's time in the 500 also broke the previous school record.

Dominski was a key player in a lot of Yale's relays last year.  At Ivy's the quartet of Dominski, sophomore Andrew Heymann, Goksu Bicer '12 and junior Pat Killian posted an NCAA 'B' cut time with a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay.  The young Bulldog squad will look to build on this success as they work toward closing the gap on Harvard and Princeton at the Ivy League Championships.

This first meet against Columbia on Saturday will be hotly contested.  Last season the Bulldogs traveled to New York and beat Columbia in their season opener, and this time around the Lions will certainly be looking to return the favor.  Then rather than heading to Boston the weekend of The Game, this year the Bulldogs will travel to Lewisburg, Pa., for the Bucknell Invitational from Nov. 16-18.  The Bulldogs will find themselves in Massachusetts on Dec. 1 for a dual meet against Amherst before leaving for winter break.

In 2013 the push towards Ivy's begins with a meet against Cornell on Jan. 7, followed by a trip to Philadelphia to compete against Dartmouth and Penn.  On Jan. 26 the Bulldogs will swim at Rutgers with Fordham and Rider, followed by the ever-competitive HYP meet at Princeton on Feb. 2-3.  The senior meet against Brown on Feb. 9 will be the last at home for the Class of 2013, which precedes the all-important Ivy League Championships on Mar. 7-9.

Saturday's meet kicks off at 2:00 p.m. at the Robert J.H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool located inside Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Report filed by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity