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Bulldogs Send Keefe Out On Top, Finish Dual Meet Season at .500 With Win Over Huskies

Kyle Veatch. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kyle Veatch. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Saturday's 174-126 win over the University of Connecticut marked Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe's last in the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. It was also the final home meet for seniors Colin McCarthy, captain Tom Robinson, Craig Steen, Jon Taylor and Drew Teer. The Yale Precision Marching Band was on hand, along with one of the biggest crowds a Yale home meet has seen in recent memory, and pregame ceremonies honoring Keefe celebrated his storied tenure. Yet even after all of that, Coach Keefe's thoughts after the meet were centered solely the one thing that has defined his brilliant 32-year career more than anything else: winning.

"The most important thing about today? It brought us back to .500 on the year." Keefe said. "We harped on it - we haven't had a losing season since '89. 21 years without a losing season; that resonated with them."

Yale started its quest to give Keefe and its seniors a fitting sendoff with a win in the 200 yard medley relay. The A team of freshman Mike Dominski, junior Sam Goldsmith, sophomore Goksu Bicer, and junior Kyle Veatch swam to a time of 1:32.04 to beat out the second place UConn A team.

Junior Matt Lee ran away with the 1000 yard freestyle, completing the grueling 40-lap race in 9:33.50 en route to the win. Lugar Choi (1:41.43) and Kyle Veatch (1:42.07) backed up Lee's performance by going 1-2 in the 200 yard freestyle, and Dominski (50.71) and Robinson (50.94) went 2-3 in the 100 yard backstroke. 

The Huskies' Tomasz Sobek touched out Steen (59.06) in the 100 yard breaststroke, while Goldsmith took third in 59.70. Scott Shinton (1:53.54) then edged teammate Jared Lovett (1:53.94) to finish first in the 200 yard butterfly.

UConn's Kyungsoo Yoon barely touched out Yale's Goksu Bicer in what may have been the race of the day, finishing in 21.27 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second ahead of Bicer (21.30). Yoon then pulled out another tight win over Bicer, swimming a 46.37 to top Bicer's 46.56 and take first overall.

Robinson and UConn's Alexander Davidson engaged in a back-and-forth duel in the 200 yard backstroke, ultimately ending in a dramatic Robinson win, initially credited to Davidson before the scorer recorded the captain's accurate time of 1:49.36.

Steen (2:08.01)and Chris Luu (2:10.69) took second and third in the 200 yard breaststroke, and Dominski (4:36.31) staged a late comeback to defeat teammate Matt Lee (4:37.25) in the 500 yard freestyle. Bicer (49.71), Veatch (50.84), and Matt Boone (50.92) swept the 100 yard butterfly, and Lovett (1:54.02) added to his big day with a win in the 200 yard IM.

Veatch, Robinson, Dominski, and Choi then ended the day in grand fashion, taking a three second victory in the 400 yard freestyle relay.

The Eli divers also had a strong showing, with Drew Teer (310.95) taking third in the 3 meter event and Colton Staab (296.32) finishing third in the 1 meter.

But beyond the win, the story of the day was a fitting end to a legendary career.

"I'm a hometown kid." Keefe said. "I grew up around here, my father was a coach, and Bob Kiphuth was a mentor to me when I didn't even know what a mentor was. This was the dream. This is my dream job, but it's time to move on."

While he may have coached his last meet in New Haven, Coach Keefe will have to stick around for a little while longer, as his Elis now look ahead to Mar. 4th's Ivy League championships in Princeton, New Jersey.

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