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Yale Finishes Fourth At Ivy League Championships

(Photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)
(Photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

Senior diver Tyler Pramer wins career high-point award 

NEW HAVEN, Conn.- The Yale men's swimming and diving team overcame a deficit to Columbia on Saturday to take fourth place at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships. The Bulldogs' 987 points put them 32 ahead of Columbia. Harvard won the meet with 1,495 points, followed by Princeton with 1,413 and Penn with 1050.

Yale began the final day of competition 20 points behind Columbia. But sophomore Brian Hogan immediately helped the Bulldogs gain on the Lions by placing second in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:02.42. Besides Hogan, no swimmer in the Ivy League had recorded a faster time during the regular season. However, Penn sophomore Chris Swanson raised his game on Saturday night and won the race with a Blodgett Pool record time of 14:53.75. Hogan and Swanson faced off in three freestyle races this weekend and swam to a 1-2 finish in each one.  Swanson's other victory came in the 500 on Thursday, and Hogan won the 1,000 on Friday. Swanson edged out Hogan for the Phil Moriarity Swimmer of the Meet award, but the two swimmers have two more years of eligibility to battle for this award and the title of top distance freestyler in the Ivy League. Freshman Ben Lerude, who finished fifth in the 1,650, may also be a contender in future years. Sophomore William Yang scored points with a 22nd place finish in the 1,650.

Four Yale swimmers scored points in the 200-yard backstroke. Junior  Rob Harder led the way, finishing fifth with a time of 1:45.02.  He was followed by junior Kevin Stang in seventh, freshman Alex Schultz in 12th, and junior Mike Lazris in 15th.  These swimmers' strong performances in the event put distance between the Bulldogs and the Lions. Yale outscored Columbia 75-19 in the 200-yard backstroke.

The Bulldogs couldn't amass the same point total in the 100-yard freestyle, but swam fast enough to keep the Lions at bay. Sophomore Victor Zhang took 12th place with a time of 45.24. Freshmen Oscar Miao and Aaron Greenberg placed 15th and 23rd, respectively.

In the 200-yard breaststroke, juniors Andrew Heymann (fifth place), Ronald Tsui  (11th) and Danny McDermott (15th) beat out all of their Columbia competitors. At this point the Bulldogs had a 846-770 lead over the Lions with just three events to go. Dartmouth senior Nejc Zupan set another pool record of 1:54.29 in the event.
Columbia fought back with a 2-3-5 finish in the 200-yard butterfly, but junior Alwin Firmansyah was close behind, finishing in 1:47.07 to take sixth place. He recorded an even faster 1:46.41 in prelims, which secured him a spot in the A heat. Both swims were faster than any of his previous races this season. Schultz finished ninth, and senior captain Ed Becker finished 18th in 1:49.28 in his last race as a Bulldog. Greenberg rounded out the event for Yale with a 20th place finish. Brown senior Thomas Glenn set a meet record of 1:42.35 with his winning swim.

In the 3-meter dive, senior Tyler Pramer closed out his Yale career with a 304.70-point performance that put him in seventh place, adding 23 points to the team's total. His score made his career Ivy League Championship point total of 183 the highest in the conference's class of 2014. In honor of this achievement, he received the Ron Keenhold Career High Point Diver Award at the end of the meet. Sophomore James McNelis and freshman Anthony Mercadante also scored points. 

Yale closed out the meet with the 400-yard freestyle relay. With a 987-955 lead over Columbia, the Bulldogs simply had to avoid disqualification to secure a fourth place finish. The relay team of Hogan, Zhang, Firmansyah and Harder did that and more, finishing in 3:00.00 and taking sixth place.

Tim Wise, the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Director of Men's Swimming and Diving, said he was proud of the effort and energy that the team displayed at the meet. "They fought for every place and every point," he said. "By all means it was a very successful end to what has been a very exciting and successful season."

While the season is over for most of Yale's swimmers and divers, nine swimmers are eligible to represent their university at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships later this month. Firmansyah, Harder, Heymann, Hogan, Lazris, Lerude, Schultz, Stang and Tsui all achieved NCAA 'B' qualifying standard times over the course of the meet. The Division I Championship will be held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas from Mar. 27-29. 

Report by Josh Mandell '16