Bulldogs Kick Off 2011-2012 Season Against Columbia

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Christopher Luu. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale men's swimming and diving team has one goal for the 2011-2012 season: restore its position at the top of the Ivy League standings with perennial powers Harvard and Princeton. The Bulldogs begin that quest Saturday in New York City against the team that bumped them from a place in the top three at last year's Ivy League Championships – third-place finisher Columbia.

The Lions posted a 4-3 conference record last year, good for fourth-place in the regular season standings. The Bulldogs were 2-5, and one of those defeats came to the Lions, a 177-122 season-opening loss.

And while the loss of seniors like captain Kyle Veatch '11 and distance great Matt Lee '11 will undoubtedly leave voids, this year's young Bulldog squad is propelled by youthful energy: 17 of 23 swimmers on the roster or sophomores or freshmen, and of those, 11 are newcomers. The nine freshmen on the Yale roster may just be one of the fastest recruiting classes in recent memory, a testament to the work done by Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming and Diving Tim Wise, who took the helm of the Bulldog program before last season after 12 seasons as an assistant under previous coach Frank Keefe.

Those freshmen will be thrown into the fire of Ivy League competition right away by against a Columbia team that also suffered losses to graduation, including sprinter extraordinaire Adam Powell, who was, at one point last year, ranked 15th in the nation in the 50 free. The Lions also lost Hyun Lee, last year's Ivy League Champion in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

Yale's three returning divers, sophomore Tyler Pramer and junior Aaron Seriff-Cullick and Colton Staab, join newcomer sophomore Cole Florey in trying to bolster the Bulldogs from the board this year.

Saturday's meet will be captain Christopher Luu's first as Bulldog captain, and he will undoubtedly rely on his five fellow upperclassmen, including 2011 All-Ivy honorees junior Mike Dominski and senior Goksu Bicer, to show an inexperienced team the way. But ultimately, as will be the case all season, Yale will go as its underclassmen do; if early indications prove accurate, that means the Bulldogs will swim just one way this season: fast.

Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity

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