Midshipmen Narrowly Escape Bulldogs' Bite Unscathed

Goksu Bicer. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The men’s swimming and diving team dropped a tough 152-142 decision to the undefeated Navy Midshipmen Saturday at the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. That the Bulldogs came within ten points of one of the toughest teams on their dual meet schedule is undoubtedly a positive for a team that has hovered around .500 thus far this season, but makes the loss a difficult one to swallow, as a few points here and there could easily have given the Elis the huge upset.

“Our problem is depth,” Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe said. “Their third person versus our third person.  Today there was very little comparison, and we have to have people step up.”

Navy did, indeed, dominate the top three spots throughout the meet, but despite the frustrating loss, the Yale divers provided a tremendous silver lining. Senior Drew Teer took second in the one meter event with a personal-best score of 304.12, while sophomore Colton Staab (341.85) took first in the three meter event, with senior Eric Olson (325.57) grabbing third. Teer’s 323.55 in that event was good for fourth overall.

More importantly, all three divers qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships, a tremendous achievement for a squad that has been a pleasant surprise for Coach Keefe and the Elis all season.

“The divers were phenomenal today.” Keefe said simply. “All the men qualified for Zones. They were phenomenal.”

As for the swimmers, the day got off to a good start, as the consistently fast team of freshman Mike Dominski, sophomores Zak Murez and Alex Benz, and junior Kyle Veatch took first in the 200 yard medley relay, but they were the only Yale squad to finish in the top three.

That trend would continue throughout the meet, as it was only in the 200 IM and 400 yard relays that more than one Bulldog would crack the top three.

Matt Lee took third in the 1000 yard freestyle with a time of 9:35.60, and was also Yale’s top finisher in the other distance event, the 500 yard freestyle, taking second in 4:39.25. 

Junior Lugar Choi’s 1:43.70 was good for third in the 200 yard freestyle, and teammates Zak Murez and Scott Shinton also took the three spot in the 100 yard breaststroke and 200 yard butterfly, respectively.  Sophomore Chris Luu (2:10.77) edged out teammate Craig Steen (2:11.19) for third in the 200 yard breaststroke.

The Elis did have their fair share of winners on the day, starting with Mike Dominski, whose time of 52.17 gave him the top spot in the 100 yard backstroke. Captain Tom Robinson completed the Yale sweep of backstroke events, taking the 200 with a time of 1:50.50 seconds. Freshman Jared Lovett, Choi, and Shinton combined to sweep the top three spots in the 200 yard IM, but the story of the day for the Bulldogs was sophomore Goksu Bicer.

“Bicer has been doing a great job all year.” Keefe said. “He didn’t go as fast today as he did last week, but he’s still very competitive in there.” 

Saying Bicer is competitive may be an understatement. His time of 21.59 in the 50 freestyle was good for first overall in that event, as was his time of 50.08 in the 100 yard butterfly. The sophomore from Istanbul, Turkey also added a second place finish in the 100 yard freestyle, with a time of 46.51 seconds. 

In the end, the lack of Bulldogs in the top three cost them; had two more Yale swimmers taken spots in the top three instead of Midshipmen, the Elis may have pulled off the victory.

There is no time for Yale to consider what might have been, however, as with next weekend comes the heated H-Y-P meet – the annual matchup with Ivy League rivals and perennial powers Harvard and Princeton, held this year at Princeton. That meet will be followed by a mid-week matchup with Brown, followed by Coach Keefe’s final dual meet at Yale against UConn’s Huskies on February 6th.

HYP gets underway next Saturday at noon in Princeton, New Jersey.

Report Filed by Chelsea Janes ’12, Yale Sports Publicity.