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Bulldogs Break Four School Records on Second Day of Ivy League Championships

Bulldogs Break Four School Records on Second Day of Ivy League Championships

March 6, 2009

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PRINCETON, N.J. - After three school record breaking performances on the first day of competition at the Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by Princeton at DeNunzio Pool, it was hard to believe that the meet could get even more exciting for the Bulldogs. The team, however, used momentum to continue their incredible performances and break four more school records, including three record setting performances in the same event. The team, however, is poised to set even more records and move up in the standings on Saturday, the third and final day of competition.

The Bulldogs currently sit in fourth as a team with 685.5 points, just trailing third place Cornell, which has 719 points. No. 16 Princeton is currently leading the meet with 1110.5 points. The Bulldogs have continued to narrow the gap between them and the Cornell team and will have one more opportunity to pass the Big Red tomorrow.

The tough competition, competitive attitude by the team, well-structured training, fast pool, and fast swim suits have all combined to help the Bulldogs set seven new school records at the event. Senior captain Alex Righi leads the team with two new individual records, both of which were also Ivy League records and are on the list of the top four times in the nation.

Robert J. H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe is pleased with the performances and confident the team will do even better on the third day of competition.

"We have started to close the gap with Cornell," Keefe said. "We are actually ahead of schedule of where we wanted to be in relation to Cornell, which is very encouraging. We're ready to keep on swimming well and all of the kids are doing a great job. It was exciting to see so many records set today, especially in the 100-yard breaststroke, where Craig Steen and Matt Sweitzer traded setting new school records."

Preliminary Session

The morning session of competition got off on a strong note in the 200-yard medley relay preliminary round. The Bulldogs did not need to swim all out, however, as they simply needed to swim cleanly and not get disqualified as the preliminary round had eight team and eight teams qualified for the finals. Still, the team of junior Colin McCarthy, sophomore Sam Goldsmith, junior Craig Steen and senior Matt Sweitzer did a good job, taking fifth in a time of 1:34.71. McCarthy got the team off to a strong start, being the third-fastest swimmer on the first leg before the other three team members turned in fast performances.

The Bulldogs did just what they needed to to close the gap on Cornell in the preliminary round of the 400-yard individual medley, with one Bulldog qualifying for the A finals and two student-athletes qualifying for the B finals. Senior Dennen McCloskey, who achieved an Olympic Trials qualifying mark in the event last summer, led the team with a time of 3:53.12, which placed him fourth in the round. McCloskey got off to a strong start in the race, leading at the half-way point, but the other competitors were faster in the second half of the race. Senior Kyle McElroy swam to a time of 3:59.00, which placed him 13th and freshman Scott Shinton placed 16th in a time of 4:02.58.

The first school record of the day to fall came in the 100-yard butterfly when Pool broke his own record from earlier in the season. The team got off to a great start in the butterfly events with two Bulldogs qualifying for the A finals in the 100-yard butterfly. A further two Bulldogs qualified for the B finals in the event while another made it to the C finals, setting the team up well for earning many points in the event. Senior Chris Pool, who placed sixth in the event last year, swam an NCAA B cut time of 47.41 to place third in the preliminary round. His time was an improvement on his school record that he set at the US Short Course Nationals on Dec. 5, 2008 in a time of 47.92. Freshman Goksu Bicer swam a time of 48.40 to place eighth in the preliminaries and grab the final A final qualifying position. Sophomore Kyle Veatch was 12th (48.86) and senior Tyler Scheid was 14th (49.06), qualifying both athletes to the B finals in the event. Junior Thomas Robinson just missed making the B finals by .03 seconds, nabbing 17th place in a time of 49.35 and a place in the C finals.

Senior Sebastian Cousins had a great day in the 200-yard freestyle, qualifying for the A finals in the event with a seventh-place finish in a time of 1:39.61. Sophomore Lugar Choi made it to the B finals in the event with a 13th-place finish in a time of 1:40.83. Cousins set the team up for an improvement over last year, when no Bulldogs qualified for the A finals in the event.

The second school record of the day to fall came in the 100-yard breaststroke event. Sweitzer just missed out on making the A final of the 100-yard breaststroke event by just .05 seconds, placing ninth in a time of 56.11. This, however, was a new school record, breaking the record of 56.84 set by Colin Stalnecker `08. Steen also swam a good race to make it to the B finals in the event, taking 11th in a time of 56.24. Steen also went under Stalnecker's old school record. Goldsmith made it to the C finals with a 19th-place finish in a time of 57.11.

Righi, coming off of an incredible race in which he demolished the school, meet, pool and Ivy League records in the 50-yard freestyle event on Thursday evening, showed that he was not about to let up in the 100-yard backstroke, an event that he has won at the Ivy League Championships since his sophomore year. He was first after the preliminary round of competition after swimming an NCAA B cut of 48.30. Robinson, who was eighth in the event last year, also did very well, finishing fourth in the round with a time of 49.33. McCarthy made it to the B finals in the event with a 14th-place finish in a time of 50.81.

Sophomore diver Eric Olson qualified for the A finals of the three-meter event with a score of 287.10, which placed him fifth. Freshman Colton Staab placed 12th (246.50) and junior Drew Teer was 13th (242.10). Both Staab and Teer qualified for the B finals.

Finals Session

After the three school records that were set by the Bulldogs last night, the Bulldogs had a tough act to follow up in the second day of finals. The student-athletes, however, showed that they were ready for the challenges and swam some great performances, including even more school records.

The first event final of the day featured the third school record of the day to fall for the Bulldogs. The team got off to a strong start in the 200-yard medley relay, with Righi starting off strongly and finishing his leg in the lead by just less than one full second. Sweitzer then took over for the Bulldogs, who passed the half-way point of the race still in the lead. Even though Pool swam a fantastic leg, Harvard slowly edged in front of the Bulldogs while Bicer's strong performance could not hold off the fastest final leg of the day, which was swum by Princeton's Michael Carter. The Bulldogs finished the race with a third-place finish in a time of 1:28.21, only .14 seconds behind second place Princeton. This is an improvement over the old school record of 1:28.81 that was set last year at the Ivy League Championships and is an NCAA B cut time that earned the team 54 points.

The 1000-yard freestyle saw a cluster of Bulldogs finish closely together and earn the team valuable points. All of the Bulldogs experienced huge improvements in their times since earlier in the season. Sophomore Matt Lee was the top swimmer for the Bulldogs, taking 14th in a time of 9:19.96, a huge improvement over his seed time of 9:33.03. Senior Ilya Byzov was the next Bulldog, taking 16th in 9:23.80, compared to a seed time of 9:44.94. Cousins had the largest improvement of the swimmers, taking 17th in a time of 9:24.24. This is a huge advnacement for Cousins, who was seeded at 10:15.14. Lee was 13th in the event last year.

McCloskey swam a very fast race in the 400-yard individual medley and earned an NCAA B cut time. His time of 3:52.37 placed him fifth in the event, earning the team 25 points. After being in third after the first stroke, McCloskey moved up to second at the half way point of the race. The other swimmers in the race, though, swam a great last two strokes to pass McCloskey. McElroy improved in the finals to take 11th for the Bulldogs in a time of 3:56.93 while Shinton moved up one spot to take 15th in a time of 4:00.90.

After a school record breaking performance in the 100-yard butterfly in the preliminaries, Pool was ready to continue his streak of doing well at the Ivy League Championships in the event. Pool finished seventh in the finals in a time of 48.19. While the time did not beat his school record from the preliminaries, it is still one of the fastest times in school history and earned the team 23 points. Pool was sixth in the event last year. Bicer also did well for the Bulldogs, taking eighth in a time of 48.62. Veatch was 11th in 48.87, Scheid was 15th in 49.15 and Robinson was 23rd in 49.76. Princeton's senior Doug Lennox, who was an Olympian in 2008, swam an incredible race to win in a time 45.12, a time that is the second-fastest performance in the country.

Cousins again turned in a strong performance for the Bulldogs in the 200-yard freestyle. He took sixth in the event this year in a time of 1:39.78, earning the team 24 points. This is a huge improvement for Cousins, who was 12th last year. Choi also improved in the finals, taking 10th in a time of 1:39.75, earning the Bulldogs 17 points.

After two swimmers went under the old school record in the 100-yard breaststroke event in the preliminary round, the big question was how fast the Bulldog swimmers could go and who the school record holder would be at the end of the day. Both Steen and Sweitzer were going to be swimming against each other in the B finals, so if they both swam faster than the preliminary round, the Bulldog who beat the other Bulldog would be the new school record holder. Sweitzer got off to the early lead, having a lead of .45 seconds at the half way point. Steen had a very fast close to his race, tough, winning the B finals and taking ninth overall in a new school record time of 55.99. Sweitzer was just behind, taking 11th in a time of 56.16, tying for the spot with Harvard's Will Heyburn. Goldsmith was 23rd in a time of 57.45. There is a very large chance of the record getting lowered again in the near future as Steen is only a junior.

Righi turned in another dramatic win in the 100-yard backstroke and again reset the record books. Righi, who has won the event since his sophomore year, showed that he is ready to improve on his 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 2008 in the event. From the start, it was clear that Righi was prepared to turn in a fast time, leading by .78 seconds after 50-yards. From there, though, Righi just went faster, building to a final margin of 1.66 seconds over Cornell's Phil Baity. Righi's time of 46.32 is a new pool, meet, Ivy League and Yale record. His time improves the Ivy League record by .45 seconds and is the fourth fastest time in the country this year. Righi, who already had an NCAA B cut in the event, picked up an A cut in the event as well. The success in the event, however, did not stop at Righi, however. Robinson made a huge improvement from last year, when he placed eighth, to place fourth this year in a time of 49.07. McCarthy also came up big for the Bulldogs, taking 10th in a time of 50.29.

The final event of the day was the 800-yard freestyle relay. The team of Bulldogs Veatch, Choi, Cousins and McCloskey improved on last year's ninth-place finish with a sixth-place result this year in a time of 6:38.27. This is less than three-quarters of a second from the Yale record.

While the first two days of competition for the Bulldogs have been good, Keefe thinks that the last day of competition can be even better.

"We as a team are historically best on the third day of the meet," Keefe said. "There are a lot of events that we should do very well in tomorrow. We are usually better in the 200-yard strokes than the 100-yard strokes. The 200-yard breaststroke should be good, as both Matt Sweitzer and Craig Steen set records in the 100-yard breaststroke today and will be competing tomorrow. We are also strong in the 200-yard backstroke with Dennen McCloskey, Thomas Robinson and Colin McCarthy all being strong swimmers. With Chris Pool setting a new record in the 100-yard butterfly today, the 200-yard butterfly will be exciting. Alex Righi will also be competing in the 100-yard freestyle tomorrow along with some other swimmers, so we should do well there. The kids are all doing extremely well in the meet and we have a diver that qualified for the finals in the three-meter event. I'm really proud of our student-athletes as they have done very well. I hope that we are able to pass Cornell to get into third as that is their goal for the year. We're ready to go out there and compete."

With a slew of strong events ahead, the Bulldogs are poised to continue their climb up the rankings. The final day of the Ivy League Championships will commence at 11:00 a.m. with preliminary rounds. The finals will begin at 6:00 p.m.

Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity