NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale men's swimming and diving team has one more test in the pool before breaking for tests in the classroom and the holidays: a matchup with the University of Massachusetts Saturday. In some ways, it's a test they've already passed. The Bulldogs are coming off an impressive first-place finish at Boston University's Terrier Invitational, a meet in which the Minutemen took fourth.
Saturday's rematch is a crucial meet for the Elis, as it gives them a chance to head to the break - and the heart of conference season - undefeated. That would mark improvement from last season, an improvement Yale hopes will characterize its season after the new year.
If improvement has been the story so far this year, it's due, in large part, to a strong group of newcomers. Of the 23 swimmers on Yale's roster, 17 are underclassmen. Of those, ten are new to the Bulldog squad this season. Two of them, freshmen Robby Harder and Alwin Firmansyah, were absolutely spectacular at the Terrier Invite. Harder dominated the freestyle distance program, taking wins in the 1650-yard and 500-yard events. Firmansyah took home wins in the 400-IM and 100-yard butterfly and posted a second-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly.
Yale clinched its win with a victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Fittingly, that relay squad was made up entirely of newcomers: Firmansyah, Harder, freshman Andrew Heymann and sophomore transfer Paschall Davis.
That's not to say the veteran Bulldogs haven't been a factor, as well. Junior Mike Dominski and senior Goksu Bicer are former All-Ivy honorees who have continued to post fast times throughout this season, Dominski in a variety of events and Bicer in sprint freestyle and butterfly races. Junior Jared Lovett is a consistent contributor in the IM, and captain Christopher Luu is one of the Bulldogs' best breaststrokers.
Luu and the Elis hope to grab a win Saturday and send themselves to the break with an unblemished schedule. The momentum would be rather helpful, as a conference meet with Cornell welcomes Yale back into action on Jan. 7, followed by a trip to Hanover, N.H. for the always-challenging meet with Penn and Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs and Minutemen will take to the pool at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity