Yale Starts Season Strong with Win over Columbia

Ali Stephens-Pickeral. (photo by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity)
Ali Stephens-Pickeral. (photo by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The 2012-13 season is off to a good start for the Yale women's swimming and diving team, who won against Columbia in dual competition on Friday.  With solid swims from upperclassmen and freshmen alike, the Bulldogs won 11 of 16 events against their Ivy League rivals though the decision still came down to the final event.  In the end the Bulldogs won with a score of 158 to Columbia's 142.

The first event of the evening was the three-meter diving contest, where Paige Meneses helped the Bulldogs get an early lead.  Meneses put up 270.22 points, a good 15 points more than Columbia's Alyssa Menz for second place.  Olivia Grinker also picked up some points for Yale, finishing fourth with a score of 234.82.

Yale's early lead would continue to grow as the Bulldogs won the next four events in a row.  In the 200-yard medley relay the Yale squad of Cynthia Tsay, Ali Stephens-Pickeral, Alexandra Forrester and Joan Weaver won with a time of 1:43.83.  Tsay got a marginal lead after her backstroke leg, then Columbia's 'A' squad came back against Stephens-Pickeral on the breaststroke leg.  Forrester's butterfly leg was more than a second faster than anyone else's, and Weaver brought it home with a strong freestyle leg.  Columbia's 'A' relay finished second with a time of 1:44.76.

The 1000-yard freestyle was an all-freshman affair.  Eva Fabian, Casey Lincoln and Emma Smith finished first, second and fourth, respectively.  Fabian was out front after 100 yards, while Lincoln pulled into second after 300 yards.  From there the two continued to pull away from the field, with Fabian clocking at 9:59.47.  Lincoln's time of 10:06.11 put her in second, while Smith's time of 10:20.97 was good enough for fourth place.

In the 200-yard freestyle Callie Fosburgh kept the momentum going, finishing first with a time of 1:51.97.  Fosburgh led at every turn, posting consistent splits for the last 150 yards.  Albrecht finished in second place with a time of 1:53.07, edging out Columbia's Salena Huang (1:53.20) at the wall.

Following on the stellar freshman performance in the 1000 free, two of Yale's seniors showed their dominance in the 100-yard backstroke.  Forrester and Tsay went 1-2, with Forrester clocking in at 56.25 and Tsay right behind her in 56.89.

The 100-yard breaststroke was Yale's first loss of the meet.  Columbia's Katie Meili took first with a time of 1:02.36 to set a new pool record, while Stephens-Pickeral (1:04.72), Cassidy Lapp (1:06.76) and Jacqui Levere (1:08.52) all picked up points in second, third and fifth place.

Fabian's second event was the 200-yard butterfly, where she came in second place.  Her time of 2:05.53 put her just ahead of Columbia's Aileen Smith, who led Fabian for the first 150 yards.  Fabian came home with a 31.51 final 50 to better Smith's 32.44 and pick up an extra point for the Bulldogs.  Allison West also added to Yale's point total with a close fifth-place finish, clocking in at 2:07.76.

Forrester won her third event of the day with a strong performance in the 50-yard freestyle.  Forrester's time of 23.50 put her in first by a decent margin, with the next swimmer clocking in at 24.25.  Emily Gudbranson finished fifth with a time of 25.17.

Meneses followed up her win in the three-meter diving event with a strong second-place showing on one-meter.  Meneses' score was 263.25.  Danielle DeNunzio came in at fifth place with a score of 222.90. 

Two seniors won the next two events.  Tsay took first place in the 100-yard freestyle, battling with Columbia's Mikaila Gaffey up until the homestretch.  Tsay finished with a time of 52.29, winning by a margin of 0.31 seconds.  Albrecht then took first place in the 200-yard backstroke by an even smaller margin.  Albrecht in lane four took the lead after 50 yards and did her best to hold on.  She touched first at every turn and in the end clocked in at 2:03.73, a margin of victory of 0.01 seconds.

The freshman class impressed again in the 500-yard freestyle event.  Fabian matched her win in the 1000 free with a first-place finish in the 500 where the story was mostly the same.  She did not get the lead until 200 yards into the race but consistent splits delivered her to a win.  Fabian touched the wall in 4:56.65, with Fosburgh right behind in second with a time of 4:59.27.  Fosburgh's performance was a one of Yale's many close finishes that ultimately helped deliver the Bulldogs to a win, as the third place time was 4:59.52.

In the 100-yard butterfly Forrester racked up a fourth win.  She finished first in a time of 54.02, well ahead of the second place time of 55.95.  Kasey Mann finished fourth with a time of 57.67.

The penultimate event of the night was the 200-yard individual medley, where the top three spots all went to Columbia.  Smith and Courtney Randolph finished in fourth and fifth place, but it was not enough to put the Bulldogs into winning territory just yet.  The score after the 200 IM was Yale 145, Columbia 138, meaning the meet would come down to the last event.

The final race was the 400-yard freestyle relay.  Yale's 'A' squad of Tsay, Weaver, Fosburgh and Albrecht were in a close second after Tsay's swim.  Weaver gave her captain's share in the second leg, posting a split of 51.35 to Columbia's 52.64.  Fosburgh built on that lead with 52.15 split, the second fastest in the field after Weaver's.  Finally Albrecht brought it home to put Yale's final time at 3:29.26 and ensure a Bulldog victory, with Columbia 'A' finishing second with a time of 3:31.54.  Yale's 'B' relay of Lapp, Gudbranson, Fabian and Smith tacked on a few extra points in third place to put Yale's final total at 158 to Columbia's 142.

The Bulldogs will not see anther Ivy opponent in dual competition until January when they take on Cornell in Ithaca, but next weekend the team will travel to Boston to compete in Boston University's Terrier Invitational from Nov. 16-18.

Report filed by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity