Feb. 26, 2009
LONG ISLAND, N.Y. - The Yale women's swimming and diving team had one of their strongest opening days in recent memory at the Ivy League Championships. The Bulldogs do not currently know their team score or place, due to an on-going protest in the 200-yard freestyle relay, but Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe thinks Yale most likely sits in third place ahead of Penn and Columbia and behind Princeton and Harvard.
"The first day is usually our weakest," said Keefe. "These usually aren't our best events, but we had a very good opening day this year. I think we are projected in third right now without taking into account any of the relays."
The story of the meet, as predicted by Keefe, has been the suits. Every Yale swimmer set a personal in their races Thursday and numerous swimmers from others schools set pool records and earned NCAA B cut times.
"The suits are much faster," said Keefe. "Records are going to fall, but the championship is still decided on who wins the race. Everyone is on the same playing field in terms of the suits."
The Bulldogs started off the morning prelims doing exactly what they needed to do: not get disqualified in the 200-yard freestyle relay. With eight teams competing and eight lanes in the final, the prelims were of little consequence. The Bulldog team of sophomore Ileana Lucos, freshman Erica Kao, freshman Caroline Dewing and sophomore Kristin Darwin took sixth with a time of 1:38.12.
In the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries, senior Laura Strittmatter, freshman Abigail Nunn and sophomore Annie Killian all swam personal bests, but took 14th through 16th places, respectively, placing them in the B final for the night session. Strittmatter swam a time of 4:58.94, Nunn 4:59.12 and Killian 4:59.66. Senior Marilee Kiernan and senior Sara Fracapane also competed for the Bulldogs. Kiernan took 19th and earned a spot in the C final with a time of 5:03.14. Fracapane came in 27th with a time of 5:11.05.
The Bulldogs put up a strong showing in the 200-yard IM prelims, with two swimmers making it through to the A Final and one to the C final. The only other team with two swimmers in the A final was Princeton. Freshman Hayes Hyde took second for the Bulldogs with a time of 2:02.10, dropping nearly seven seconds off her personal best time, and breaking the Yale record by .78 seconds.
"Hayes Hyde has done just a fantastic job and really stepped up as a freshman," said Keefe. "The 200-yard IM was just a phenomenal swim for her. Hopefully we will see more freshman step up like that tomorrow."
Junior Susan Kim also finished in the top eight, taking seventh place with a time of 2:03.59. Senior Brenna Davis made it into the C final with a 21st place finish, swimming a time of 2:06.67. Seniors Aidan McKinlay and Blake Walsh also competed for Yale, finishing in 32nd and 42nd, respectively.
The Bulldogs again matched the Tigers in the 50-yard freestyle, getting two swimmers through to the A final. Junior Andrea Clifford took third in the prelims with a time of 23.24, just .05 seconds off of first-place. Senior Alexis Mann also made it through to the A final, finishing in fifth with a time of 23.49.
"This was Alexis's first time making it into the final in this event in four years," said Keefe. "It was a big accomplishment for her."
Kao and Dewing also competed for the Bulldogs, finishing in 26th and 29th place, respectively. Kao's time was 24.53, while Dewing's was 24.72.
Diving also had a prelim in the morning for the one-meter competition. Freshman Rachel Rosenberg and senior Cameron Murphy made it through to the B final with scores of 223.00 and 207.55, respectively. Junior Marisa J Poverman and freshman Elizabeth Andrekovich did not make it through to the finals but still managed to pick up points for the Bulldogs based on their preliminary scores. Poverman took 18th with a score of 197.70, earning seven points for Yale. Andrekovich added five points the Bulldogs total by finishing 20th with a score of 194.50.
The final swimming event of the morning was the 400-yard medley relay. The Bulldogs again needed to only avoid being disqualified and they succeeded. The team of Davis, Dewing, Fracapane, and Kao finished in fourth with a time of 3:57.73.
The Bulldogs managed to get a number of swimmers into A finals but according to Keefe that is not enough.
"The way you win this thing is by having all your kids in the finals and as few in the consolation as possible," said Keefe. "We had three kids today that did not come back to score at night. You can't afford that. Our goal for tomorrow is to have everyone swimming in the night session."
The nighttime session began with some big controversy. Beginning with the 200-yard freestyle relay, Yale unofficially finished in sixth, but may end up winning the event because six or seven teams have been disqualified as of now. Protests have been filed by every other team in the event, and the situation is being sorted out. But, it may turn out that Yale was the only team not to be disqualified.
"If this turns out the way we hope, we will win the 200-yard freestyle relay," said Keefe. "As it stands we finished in sixth, but regardless, it was a really good swim for us. We had four really good legs. Everything was within a second or a second and half from first place."
Yale slowed down a bit in the 500-yard freestyle, with no swimmers in the A final. The Bulldogs did, however, have three swimmers in the B final and they finished in places 14th through 16th. Strittmatter took the top spot for Yale with a time of 4:58.26, earning 13 points. Killian and Nunn combined for 15th and 16th with times of 4:59.47 and 5:00.32, respectively. Kiernan also added points to the Bulldogs total with her second-place finish in the C final. She finished in a time of 5:00.95. In total, Yale picked up 43 points in the event.
Yale picked up steam again, however, with their highest individual finish of the day in the 200-yard IM. Hyde took second place in the event with a time of 2:00.97. She missed out on first place by a mere .50 seconds and an NCAA B cut by .20 seconds. She did, however, break her own Yale record, improving on her time from the morning by 1.13 seconds. Kim also competed in the A final, claiming fifth place for the Bulldogs with a time of 2:02.82. The two girls combined to pick up 53 points for Yale. Darwin and Davis, competing in the C final, took fifth and sixth picking up 7 points for the Bulldogs.
Clifford and Mann brought home another set of significant points for the Bulldogs with fifth and eighth place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle. Clifford finished in a time of 23.46, just .17 seconds behind first place, while Mann was just .46 seconds behind first place at 23.75. The two swimmers combined to earn Yale 47 points. To give you a sense of how close this race really was Keefe believed that Clifford came in second.
"Thank goodness for technological, because to the naked eye, I could have sworn that Andrea came in second," said Keefe.
In the nighttime diving session, Rosenberg and Murphy took to the board again in an attempt to earn Yale some points. When all was said and done, Rosenberg finished in 12th overall with a score of 227.85 and 15 points for Yale. Murphy took 15th for Yale with her score of 210.45. She earned Yale 12 points, for a diving total of 27 points. Both girls improved upon their morning scores.
The final swimming event of the evening was the 400-yard medley relay. While not an event that Bulldogs are used to swimming, they ended up coming in either third or fourth. This is another relay that is under-review, but Keefe believes that the team of Davis, Kim, Hyde, and Clifford, finished in the top four and swam very close to the Yale record.
With day one under-wraps the Bulldogs will now turn their focus to some of their better events.
"We have set ourselves up nicely," said Keefe. "We have a lot of important races for us tomorrow. Hopefully we can come of it. If we can end tomorrow in third place, we will be in a good position."
Friday's events will be 200-yard medley relay, 1000-yard freestyle, 400-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke, 800-yard freestyle relay (final only) and three-meter diving (preliminaries only). The preliminaries will begin at 11:00 a.m., with the finals taking place at 6:00 p.m.
Report filed by Charles Moore '10, Yale Sports Publicity