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Liao Sets Two Pool Records in Win over Cornell

Abigail Nunn. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Abigail Nunn. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Yale women's swimming and diving team began the year with a win Saturday over the Cornell Big Red.  The Bulldogs won 10 out of 14 swimming events and both diving events, with junior Athena Liao setting two pool records in the process.  The 187-113 margin of victory is the largest so far this season for the Bulldogs. 

The day began with one-meter and three-meter diving at 10:00 a.m.  Junior Rachel Rosenberg won both events for the Bulldogs.  In the one-meter, sophomore Paige Meneses took second place and freshman Christina Brasco third, giving the Bulldogs a clean sweep.  Meneses would go on to just miss the second place spot in the three-meter event by 0.60 points, finishing third.

Swimming began at 1:00 p.m.  The Big Red came off the blocks quick in the 200-yard medley relay, setting a new pool record by 0.84 seconds.  The second-place Yale squad also posted a faster time than the existing pool record in the event, but still it looked as if the Big Red were going to turn their 1-4 season around. 

Junior Abigail Nunn put those fears to rest in the 1000-yard freestyle.  Her time of 10:32.50 put her solidly in first place ahead of Cornell (10:39.51).  Freshman Angela Lee and sophomore Margaret Brown finished third and fourth, respectively.

Molly Albrecht (1:52.24), Ileana Lucos (1:52.44) and captain Annie Killian (1:57.66) then went one-two-three in the 200-yard freestyle.  The Bulldogs won yet another event when Cynthia Tsay touched ahead of Cornell's Emily Dean in the 100-yard backstroke.

Athena Liao then broke the pool record in the 100-yard breaststroke by nearly a full second, a record that had stood since 2003.  Liao's time was 1:03.94.  Hayes Hyde finished first in the 200-yard butterfly in a time of 2:04.82, well ahead of the Cornell swimmer in second place at 2:08.45.  Allison West and Ileana Lucos finished third and fourth in the event. 

After five straight events, the Big Red finally found success in the 50-yard freestyle.  Cynthia Tsay touched second for Yale in 24.53, just behind Cornell's winning time of 24.46.

Cornell's success was short-lived, however, as the Yale then swept a very fast heat of the 100-yard freestyle.  Joan Weaver won with a time of 53.66, followed by Erica Kao (54.14) and Michelle Huang (54.21).  A mere 1.26 seconds separated Weaver in first place from Cornell's Jessie Holley in fifth place.  Molly Albrecht then won the 200-yard backstroke in 2:04.11.

Athena Liao set yet another pool record in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:16.47.  The previous pool record was 2:18.14 set last year by Susan Kim '10.  The next fastest time posted was 2:24.95 by a swimmer from Cornell.

Yale had another sweep in the 500-yard freestyle.  Senior captain Annie Killian edged out teammate Joan Weaver to touch in 5:09.28 to Weaver's 5:09.38.  Freshman Courtney Randolph finished third in 5:10.94.  Cornell then finished first and second in the 100 fly, only for Yale's Hayes Hyde and Angela Lee to finish first and second in the 200 IM immediately after.

In the last event of the day, the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Cornell A-team (3:35.62) out swam Yale's A-team (3:36.44), but at that point the die had been cast.  Yale scored a total of 187 points to Cornell's 113.  While Bulldogs have scored over 200 points the past three times they have seen the Big Red, this weekend's margin of victory is still the season's largest thus far for the Bulldogs.  The win over Cornell is also the fourth in a row for the senior class.

Next weekend Yale will race against Penn and Dartmouth at home.  The meet will begin at 12:00 p.m. at the Robert J.H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool located inside Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity