March 8, 2009
PRINCETON, N.J. - Senior captain Alex Righi earned two awards recognizing his stunning accomplishments in Ivy League competition that were handed out following the completion of the Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by Princeton at DeNunzio Pool on Saturday evening. Righi, one of the most decorated swimmers in Ivy League history, earned the Moriarty Trophy for scoring the most points at the Championships as well as the Ulen Trophy, awarded to the graduating senior that has scored the most points at the Championships over their career.
Righi is certainly a deserving recipient of both awards. He, however, is not new to receiving the Moriarty Trophy. This is the third time that Righi has won the trophy as he also earned the honor as a sophomore and junior, years in which he won all of his three individual events. The award, which is awarded to the swimmer that scores the most points in individual events at the Ivy League Championships, was shared with Harvard's Geoff Rathgeber '08 the past two years. This year, Righi won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events as well as the 100-yard backstroke event. Righi earned the team 96 points through his wins, each of which came in meet, pool, Ivy League and Yale record times.
Righi also earned the Harold Ulen Trophy, which is awarded to the swimmer that earns the most points over the course of their career at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships. Righi came close to achieving the absolute maximum number of points. With each swimmer only eligible to compete in three individual events, a single athlete can only win a total of 12 titles. Righi came close with his 11 titles, only missing out on winning the 100-yard backstroke as a freshmen, when he took second. Righi is the only four-time champion in either the 50- or 100-yard freestyle events. In Ivy League history, only four other athletes have won four titles in the same event during their career. Even more impressively, only one swimmer, Harvard's John Cole, has ever won four titles in all three events, but he accomplished that feat in non-consecutive years. The only other athletes to earn three titles in the 50-yard freestyle events were also Yale student-athletes, Stephen Clark '65 and Jason Rosenbaum '95.
Righi is next in action at the NCAA Championships. He placed second in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events last year and 11th in the 100-yard backstroke event. He is currently ranked third in the nation in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and sixth nationally in the 100-yard backstroke event.
Robert J. H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe feels that Righi was very deserving of the honors.
"Alex [Righi] was amazing this weekend and very much deserves the honors he received," Keefe said. "He went very close to breaking the American record in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, but he'll have another chance to break them at the NCAA Championships. I think that winning the events and setting the records this week set him up well for the NCAA Championships. Princeton senior Doug Lennox has also done very well over his career and is an expert swimmer as well. Just like Alex, he has been a thorn in people's sides because he has done so well over the past four years, but he is a great person that will sit down and talk with others. There is no animosity in the swimming world and everyone respects each other. At the NCAA Championships, all of the Ivy League schools get along great and sit together. This is a great year for swimming in the Ivy League."
Keefe feels that Righi is prepared to do well at the NCAA Championships. He has prepared well physically and has the right mental attitude.
"I think that Alex will do very well at the NCAA Championships," Keefe said. "His focus is phenomenal. He is very level-headed and realistic and I hope that he accomplishes his goals. He is going to continue his training and taper in preparation for the Championships. Some have said that swimming in the Ivy League has not exposed him to a tough enough competition because he has dominated the league for four years. I, however, think that this is still a good atmosphere for him as Alex is able to retain the feeling that he gets from racing the top competition one or two times a year throughout the year."
The NCAA Championships will begin on Mar. 26. The competition, hosted in College Station, Texas, will continue through Mar. 28.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity