Dec. 6, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldog men's swimming team concluded an extremely successful weekend of swimming competition at the US Short Course Nationals and the University of Virginia Invitational on Saturday. Senior captain Alex Righi qualified for the NCAA Championships in three events and senior Chris Pool broke the Yale record in the 100-yard butterfly while the Bulldogs placed second at the University of Virginia Invitational.
The Bulldogs at US Short Course Nationals were determined to swim fast and their goal was realized, with each athlete qualifying for the finals at the very fast and competitive meet. The meet, which included both collegiate and club swimmers, including numerous Olympians, is one of the best tests of the Bulldog's fitness and speed at this point in the season.
Righi started the day out for the Bulldogs in the 100-yard freestyle, an event that he took second in at the NCAA Championships last season. Righi again showed that he is a force to be competed with in the event. He opened up with a 43.04 clocking in the preliminaries, which was the fourth-best time in the round. Righi, who had already achieved an NCAA A cut in the 50-yard freestyle earlier in the meet, then came back to swim 42.31 in the finals, good enough for fifth place. William Copeland, an ex-Cal swimmer, won in 41.75, a new course record. Righi's performance earned him an NCAA "B cut;" he missed out on an A cut by only .05 seconds.
Next competing for the Bulldogs was Pool in the 200-yard butterfly. Pool, who set a new Yale record of 47.92 in the 100-yard butterfly on Friday, started out with a strong 1:48.38 clocking in the first-round of competition, good for 22nd and a spot in the C Finals. Pool then unleashed a huge improvement to place 19th in the event in a time of 1:47.13, just over the NCAA B cut of 1:46.55. Sano Hidemasa won the event in a course record 1:41.07.
At the meet, Righi met the NCAA A cut in one event and the B cut in two events, guaranteeing him a spot in all three events at the NCAA Championships. Pool narrowly missed the "B cut" of 47.65 in the 100-yard butterfly with his 47.92 clocking. Senior Dennen McCloskey also performed extremely well at the meet, but did not compete on Saturday.
For Righi, achieving the A cut was a tremendous accomplishment.
"I am certainly pleased with my performance at the meet," Righi said. "I went down with one purpose, to get an A cut, and I did that. This will have a significant impact on my training because I am now for sure going to the NCAA National Championships, so I don't need to taper or shave for the ECAC Championships, so I can have a better taper for NCAAs and hard training in the mean time. Dennen and Chris did a tremendous job in all their events and we accomplished our goals. It was a successful weekend on all fronts and sets us up well for the rest of the season."
Righi will now be able to compete in all three events he has met either the A or B cut in at the NCAA Division I Swimming Championships: the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
As a team, the Bulldogs placed ninth in the collegiate division with 44 points. Michigan won with 517 points.
The Bulldogs also placed second at the University of Virginia Invitational with 733 points. The hosts from No. 13 Virginia won the meet with 1,447 points.
The Bulldogs closed off the meet with their best finish of second in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team of sophomore Kyle Veatch, freshman Goksu Bicer, senior Tyler Scheid and sophomore Lugar Choi swam an impressive time of 3:06.61 to earn the Bulldogs 34 points. Yale teams also placed fourth and fifth in the event. The fourth-place team of junior Thomas Robinson, freshman Matt Boone, junior Jon Taylor and senior Dan Li swam 3:15.57 while the fifth-place team of sophomore Jerold Lee, senior Matt Sweitzer, senior Sebastian Cousins and freshman Scott Shinton swam 3:17.09. Virginia won in a time of 3:04.23.
The top individual finish for the team was a fourth in the 200-yard butterfly by Scheid (1:50.58). His strong performance was good for 15 points. He was followed by Shinton in sixth (1:53.18) and Lee in 10th (1:56.13).
The 200-yard backstroke was one of the most successful events for the Bulldogs. Robinson started a streak of three consecutive Bulldogs with a time of 1:54.19 that was good for fifth. He was followed by Veatch in sixth (1:55.08) and Boone in seventh (1:59.88).
The 100-yard freestyle was also a strong event for the Elis, with four student-athletes placing in the top-10. Bicer started the scoring streak with a time of 46.74, good for sixth. He was followed by sophomore Lugar Choi in eighth (46.91), Scheid in ninth (47.69) and Li in 10th (48.26).
Three Bulldogs placed in the top-10 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Freshman Christopher Luu earned the Bulldogs 12 points with his 2:09.59 performance that was good for seventh. He was followed by junior Craig Steen in ninth (2:06.72) and senior Kyle McElroy in 10th (2:07.28).
Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe was pleased with the team performance.
"We had a phenomenal meet finishing behind Virginia, a top-15 ranked team," Keefe said. "We had excellent competition at the meet. Tyler Scheid had a huge improvement and Kyle Veatch and Thomas Robinson both were really good. The butterfly was a great event for us with Goksu Bicer doing well. We saw we had depth with the breaststrokers and we may have the deepest team that I have had in 31 years."
Keefe believes that a large portion of the team's success is due to its leadership under captain Alex Righi.
"Alex Righi has done a great job as captain. We have a no-nonsense, hard-working team that is trying to get to the next level. We are pleased with the team's progress and did well, even with the team being spread out. This is a good way to go into exams and our training trip to Puerto Rico."
The divers also started their first day of competition at the Galbraith Diving Invitational hosted by Rutgers. The Bulldogs will continue competition on Sunday with the three-meter event. On Saturday, the Bulldogs were led by junior Drew Teer in the one-meter event. Teer placed ninth with a score of 236.40. He was closely followed by the other two Bulldogs at the event. Freshman Colton Staab placed 10th with a score of 232.85. Sophomore Eric Olson was 11th (232.10), only .75 points behind Staab.
Keefe is impressed by the diver's performance this year.
After the diving competition on Sunday, the Bulldogs are next in action at Cornell against Cornell and Navy on Jan. 9 and 10. The Bulldogs have one month of hard training before the meet.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity