Yale Wins Ivy League Championship for First Time in Two Decades

Start of 100-yard backstroke finals.
Heidi VanderWel '19 in lane 4.
Isabella Hindley '19 in lane 5.
Start of 100-yard backstroke finals. Heidi VanderWel '19 in lane 4. Isabella Hindley '19 in lane 5.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Yale women's swimming and diving team captured its first Ivy League Championship since 1997 Saturday following four days of competition at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships at Brown's Moran Aquatics Center. The team fought a close battle against Harvard before pulling ahead on day three and holding on Saturday night for the win with 1681 points. Throughout the meet, the Bulldogs set 12 Yale records and five Ivy League records.

Following Saturday morning's prelims, 15 swimmers qualified for finals or consolation finals in their respective events. Three divers also qualified for the evening's finals from Friday's three-meter diving prelims.  Nine of the performances were NCAA 'B' qualifying times in their respective events. 

Kicking off the evening's finals, junior Cailley Silbert captured another long-distance freestyle win with a first-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle, her third time winning this event at the Ivy League Championships. Her time, 16:17.28, was more than 10 seconds faster than her competitors. Moreover, Silbert set a new Brown pool record.  Freshman Kendall Brent followed up with a fourth place finish (16:32.28) in the event.

The Bulldogs swept the 200-yard backstroke in both the prelims and finals. Sophomore Heidi VanderWel led the pack and touched first at 1:55.21, a Yale record.  This was her second individual Yale record, having broken the 100-yard backstroke record on Friday.  Following closely behind, senior Olivia Jameson took second (1:56.48) and sophomore Destiny Nelson took third (1:56.86).

Continuing the momentum, sophomore Isabella Hindley took first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 48.64.  Her swim set a new pool, meet, Ivy and Yale record.  This was Hindley's first individual Ivy League record and she now holds two Yale records, the other in the 50-yard freestyle from Thursday's competition.  Senior Kina Zhou also took third in the event (48.92) just two hundredths of a second behind the runner-up.

Freshman Charlotte O'Leary broke another pool record in the 200-yard breaststroke, touching first at 2:10.95.  O'Leary dropped more than three seconds from her prelim time to win the event by about two seconds. Junior Pauline Kaminski followed up with a fourth-place finish (2:14.83). 

The Bulldogs also found success in the 200-yard butterfly. Senior Sydney Hirschi finished runner-up at 1:57.56, just a couple tenths of a second behind first. Freshman Sophie Fontaine also touched fourth (1:59.33), earning a NCAA 'B' qualifying cut.  Rounding out the event, junior Maddy Zimmerman took ninth (1:59.95) and freshman Beatrix Thompson took 10th (2:01.49) in the consolation finals. 

The divers posted great performances in the three-meter diving. Senior Lilybet MacRae took first-place with a score of 340.85, a Brown pool record. Sophomore Talbott Paulsen followed up in third (319.00) and McKenna Tennant rounded out the event in sixth (280.00). 

Closing out the meet, Yale's relay team – Zhou, junior Kate Rogers, freshman Lili Margitai and Hindley – claimed first in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:17.23. A fitting end to a successful championship meet, the time was a pool, Ivy and Yale record. 

"I'm incredibly proud of our team and the coaching staff," remarked Jim Henry, the Robert J.H. Kiphuth Head Coach of Women's Swimming and Diving. "This week's win was about these women making a commitment to each other and holding themselves to it. 34 students made this happen as a team, not one or two. Words cannot describe how great it feels to make history with this team."


The Bulldogs' new records are listed below:

50-yard freestyle – Hindley (22.25)

100-yard freestyle – Hindley (48.64) *

200-yard freestyle – Zhou (1:46.23)

1000-yard freestyle – Silbert (9:44.17)

100-yard backstroke – VanderWal (52.79)

200-yard backstroke – VanderWal (1:55.21)

200-yard individual medley – Nelson (1:58.97)

200-yard medley relay – VanderWel, O'Leary, Zimmerman, Hindley (1:40.01) *

400-yard medley relay –  VanderWel, O'Leary, Zimmerman, Zhou (3:35.95) *

200-yard freestyle relay – Hindley, Rogers, Zimmerman, Zhou (1:29.69)

400-yard freestyle relay – Zhou, Rogers, Margitai, Hindley (3:17.23) *

800-yard freestyle relay – Zhou, Margitai, Jameson, Hindley (7:06.35) * 

*Ivy League Records


A special thanks to the many Yale swimming and diving alumni and affiliates who came out to support the event and team. Olympic gold medalist Mike Austin '64 gave out the 100-yard freestyle medals Saturday night. And following the conclusion of the meet Frank Keefe, former Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming and Diving, and Melanie Ginter '78 presented the Ivy League Trophy. 


Report by Neil Zheng '19, Yale Sports Publicity