Forrester, 200-yard Freestyle Relay Both Win
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Bulldogs are off to their best start in recent memory at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships. Yale (353) currently sits in second place, just 37 points behind Princeton (390) and five points ahead of Harvard (348). Freshman Alex Forrester won her first individual Ivy League Championship title in the 50-yard freestyle and Yale's 200-yard freestyle relay team also took first, narrowly inching out Princeton. Yale put at least two swimmers in every A final and managed to score points in B and C finals in every event, as well.
"The first day is usually one of our weaker days," said Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe. "At this time during the meet, we are usually 150 points down to Harvard and Princeton. But, our girls swam terrific today. We had 18 out of our 19 swimmers come back and score points in the night session. It is fun to be right in the thick of things."
The Bulldogs put up a strong showing in the morning prelims, managing to get at least two swimmers into every A final. They opened the morning with the 500-yard freestyle. Freshman Molly Albrecht had only swum this event once in competition all year, but was entered in it Thursday morning and came away with the third fastest time and an NCAA B cut. Her time of 4:47.67 was the fastest of any Yale swimmer this year by almost 10 seconds. Freshman Joan Weaver, a regular in the 500-yard freestyle, also made it through to the A final with her time of 4:52.42. Her time was a five second improvement over her personal best and good enough for sixth in the prelims. Yale also placed swimmers in the B and C finals. Senior Laura Grigereit finished 16th, taking the last spot in the B final and sophomore Abigail Nunn took 21st for a spot in the C final. Joining Nunn in the C final was also junior Annie Killian.
"Molly has only swam this event in competition once all year," said Keefe. "So I was a bit surprised when she told me her third event was going to be the 500-yard freestyle, but I'm pretty sure she went out and broke the Yale record. It was a terrific swim for her. Joan also put together a terrific swim, and I believe she also broke the previous Yale record."
In the 200-yard IM, senior Susan Kim and sophomore Hayes Hyde both made it through to the A final. Kim finished in fifth with a time of 2:03.01 and Hyde came in right behind her in sixth with a time of 2:03.22. Sophomore Athena Liao made it through to the B final and juniors Kristin Darwin and Ileana Lucos both made it into the C final.
The Bulldogs first big individual finish of the meet came in the 50-yard freestyle. Forrester made a statement in the morning prelims inching out Megan Waters of Princeton to take first and earn a spot in the A final. Her time was 22.71 and good enough for an NCAA B cut. Sophomore Emily Dominski, who missed last year's Ivy League Championship due to injury, also made it through to the A final. She tied for fourth with a time of 23.39. Yale also placed two swimmers in the B final, senior captain Andrea Clifford and freshman Cynthia Tsay.
The final preliminary event of the day was the three-meter diving. Three Yale divers were able to crack the top ten. Freshman Paige Meneses took fourth with a score of 247.85. Sophomores Rachel Rosenberg and Lisa Andrekovich finished in eighth and ninth, respectively. Rosenberg's score was 242.75, while Andrekovich's was 235.20. Meneses and Rosenberg both advanced to the A final while Andrekovich was at the top of the B final.
The Bulldogs opened the first day of finals with their loudest statement of the year. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Forrester, Dominski, Tsay and Clifford took first with a time of 1:32.70, earning themselves an NCAA B cut by .06 seconds and breaking the Yale record. The Bulldogs led from start to finish, but in the end only inched out Harvard by .03 seconds. It was Clifford who managed to hold off a charging Ali Slack from Harvard and touch the wall by the smallest of margins. The Bulldogs earned 64 points for their efforts and opened the meet in first place.
Albrecht managed to maintain her position from the morning in the 500-yard freestyle and claim third, while Weaver jumped up one spot to fifth. Albrecht's time was slightly slower than the morning at 4:48.08, but still under the NCAA B cut line. Weaver substantially improved her time in the afternoon jumping from 4:52.51 to 4:50.5, earning herself an NCAA B cut. The two girls combined for a total of 52 points. Yale also picked up points from Grigereit who finished 16th overall, Nunn who finished 21st and Killian who took 24th. Yale fell drastically in the standings, however, as Princeton placed five girls into the A final and Harvard placed four in the B final. At the end of the second event, Princeton led with a score of 181. Yale trailed Harvard (152) in third with a score of 132.
"Abby Nunn is swimming with a couple cracked ribs and actually has a brace on under her suit," said Keefe. "To score points in this event when she is struggling to get air into her lungs is just spectacular. Most girls would be on injured reserve."
Kim made a big move in the 200-yard individual medley final to close the gap on Harvard. She jumped two spots to take third in the event with a time of 2:01.43. Her time earned her an NCAA B cut in the event and was a 1.58 second drop from her preliminary time. Hyde held strong in fifth for the Bulldogs with a time of 2:03.01, also an improvement from the morning. Yale also picked up points from Liao who finished in 16th, Lucos who took 18th and Darwin who finished 21st. Unfortunately, Princeton still managed to place three girls in the A final and continued to widen their lead. After three events, Princeton was in first with 281 points, Harvard in second with 209 points and Yale in a close third with 206 points.
"Susan and Hayes both had great swims for us in the 200-yard IM," said Keefe. "Susan came close to breaking the Yale record and Hayes swam 2:03.01 which is great for her after having a bit of a rough year."
Things turned around for Yale in the 50-yard freestyle, as the Bulldogs reclaimed second place and inched closer to Princeton. Yale won its first individual event of the meet and Forrester won her first Ivy League title. Forrester claimed the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.73, beating out Waters by .19 seconds. Dominski also came up with a big finish for the Bulldogs, dropping .12 seconds off her morning time to claim third. Tsay managed to win the B final and take ninth overall with a time of 23.65. Had she been in the A final her time would have been good enough for seventh place. Clifford also scored double digit points for Yale with her 15th place finish. With Princeton only placing one swimmer in the A final and one in the B final, Yale made a big move back up the leaderboards. After four events, Princeton was still in first with 326 points, but Yale was in a much closer second at 297. Harvard rounded out the top three with 294 points.
In the consolation championship for the three-meter diving, Andrekovich put up 206.75 points to take 7th.
To close out the night, the Bulldogs put up another strong relay performance, this time in the 400-yard medley relay. Yale took second in the event, just over a second behind Princeton. Their time of 3:40.76 earned them an NCAA B cut and would have set the meet record, pool record, and Ivy League record, if Princeton had not won. Instead, Princeton set all three of those records, breaking their own record from last year. Dominski started things off for the Bulldogs in the backstroke and was followed by Kim at breaststroke, Forrester at butterfly, and Tsay at freestyle.
At the end of the day, Yale was holding strong in second place with 353 points. They sit just 37 points behind Princeton who leads with 390. Harvard is right on Yale's tail, however, in third with 348 points. At this stage, it is already a three horse race with no other Ivy League team over 200 points, except for Penn at 209.5.
Tomorrow's events will include the 200-yard medley relay, 1000-yard freestyle, 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke, three-meter diving finals and 800-yard freestyle relay.
"Tomorrow we've got two divers in the three-meter finals which will be a big help," said Keefe. "It will also be a big day for Susan in the 100-breaststroke. The 200-yard medley relay has also been an exciting event for us all year. We've really been flying, and it would be nice to start tomorrow's night session off with a win in that event."
Look for Kim to pick up her first win of the championship in the 100-breaststroke and for Forrester to rewrite the record books and possibly earn herself an NCAA A cut in the 100-yard butterfly.
Report filed by Charles Moore '10, Yale Sports Publicity