February 1, 2014

Bulldogs Finish Close to Harvard, Princeton

Hogan sets records in 400-yard IM, 500-yard freestyle

The Yale men's swimming and diving team went down fighting against Harvard and Princeton on Saturday in front of a large crowd of students, family members and team alumni at the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. The team's score against Harvard was 203-150, and 194-159 against Princeton. Harvard was the overall meet winner.

Sophomore Brian Hogan led the team with wins in four individual events, adding two more record-setting swims on Saturday. In the 400-yard IM, his time of 3:48.81 broke the Kiphuth Pool and HYP meet records and is the fastest time ever by a Yale swimmer. He extended his lead when he closed out the race with a freestyle split of 51.64. All the Yale swimmers in the 400-IM recorded season bests, most notably senior Danny McDermott, who improved his time by 16 seconds and broke four minutes for the first time in his final home meet.
 
Hogan later broke another Kiphuth Pool record in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing in 4:22.40. As Hogan pulled away with the lead, junior Rob Harder raced ahead of Harvard's Aly Abdel-Khalek in the final 25 meters to secure a 1-2 finish for the Bulldogs. Harder's second place finishes in the 500 and the 200-yard backstroke brought in crucial points for Yale, and also gave him two more NCAA "B" cuts. He broke the Kiphuth Pool record for the backstroke, only to have his record topped by Jack Manchester of Harvard in the final heat.
 
The Elis had also raced to a 1-2 finish in the previous event, the 100-yard butterfly. Junior Alwin Firmansyah avenged a close defeat in the 200-yard butterfly on Friday night with a victory in the 100, finishing with an NCAA "B" cut of 48.23. Junior Mike Lazris held off opponents from Harvard and Princeton to claim second place.
 
In the 100-yard freestyle, freshmen Oscar Miao and Aaron Greenberg placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Juniors Andrew Heymann  and Ronald Tsui also went 4-5 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Senior captain Ed Becker broke 50 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly for the first time in an exciting race to place second in his heat, and his swim helped fire up his teammates and the crowd before Firmansyah's victory.
 
Yale's relays couldn't match the depth of the Crimson's and the Tigers', but still swam great races. The 200-yard medley relay team of Lazris, Heymann, Firmansyah and Greenberg beat the standing Kiphuth Pool record, as did the the 400-yard freestyle relay team of Firmansyah, Harder, Miao and sophomore Victor Zhang.
 
In the 1-meter dive, senior Tyler Pramer closed out his last home meet with a third place finish, scoring 311.60 points. Sophomore James McNelis and freshman Anthony Mercadante placed sixth and eighth.
 
Tim Wise, the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Director of Men's Swimming, said he was pleased with his swimmers' performance against their heavily favored opponents. 
"Yale has never won the HYP meet. Trying to do something that's never been done before can cause some anxiety, but today we overcame that and proved we can compete with Harvard and Princeton," Wise said.

"From a recruitment standpoint, Yale needs to set itself up as an alternative to these impressive programs, and a meet like this can do that."

Wise also expressed gratitude for the seniors' contributions to the team over their careers.

"The seniors should be thanked for maintaining their commitment and work ethic. They laid the foundation for the success we've had this season, and an even greater future."
 
Yale's next meet is at Brown University on Feb. 8. It will be the team's last meet before the Ivy League Championships begin on Feb. 27. 
-Report by Josh Mandell '16

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