It may be just its second home meet of the season for the Yale men's swimming and diving team, but it is also the last one, and therefore marks senior day for the undefeated Bulldogs. Cornell will be the competition as the Elis celebrate the careers of four seniors: Alexander Benz, Goksu Bicer, Matt Boone and captain Christopher Luu.
Those four swimmers have filled a variety of roles for the Bulldogs during their careers. Benz has emerged as one of Yale's top breaststrokers, breaking out in his junior season when he broke into the top ten at the hotly-contested (H)arvard-(Y)ale-(P)rinceton meet in the 100-yard breaststroke with a ninth-place finish. He also took eleventh in the 200-yard breaststroke at that meet.
Bicer, a member of the Turkish national team, is one of Yale's most decorated sprinters. A First Team All-Ivy Selection in the 100-yard butterfly by virtue of his win in that event at last year's Ivy League Championships, the Pierson College resident came to Yale as owner of the Turkish record in the 50-yard and 100-yard butterfly. As a sophomore, he posted three top-ten finishes at the Ivy League Championships, one in the 100 fly and the others in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
Matt Boone has been one of Yale's more versatile swimmers, experiencing success as a freshman in the backstroke before growing into a force in the freestyle and butterfly. That freshman season saw Boone post top-15 finishes at the ECAC Championships in both the 200- and 100-yard backstroke. As a sophomore, he turned in yet another top-15 showing at league championships, though this time in the 100-yard butterfly. He duplicated that feat as a junior with his second-straight 14th-place finish in that event at the Ivy League Championships.
Luu, voted captain by his teammates prior to the 2011-12 campaign, has been an integral part of Yale's breaststroking corps throughout his career. He earned multiple top-five finishes in the 200-yard breaststroke during his freshmen season. Luu built on that with seven combined top-five showings as a sophomore in the 200- and 100-yard breaststroke, including wins in both events against UMass. By his junior year, Luu had grown into a dominant breaststroker. In the 200-yard event, Luu had three wins and six top-ten finishes, as well as a 14th-place finish at the Ivy League Championships. He had similar success in the 100-yard race, turning in one win and four second-place finishes during the course of the dual-meet season.
For all the success they've had already, Benz, Bicer, Boone and Luu have every reason to believe their senior seasons will be the team's best yet. So far, Yale has impressed thanks to the performance of its core group of veterans and a potent freshmen class. That combination has propelled the Bulldogs to three wins in three chances this season, the best start the senior class has ever had, including an impressive first-place finish at the Terrier Invitational. Cornell marks Yale's first meet of 2012, and starts a run of four-straight conference meets leading up to the Ivy League Championships. The Bulldogs took fourth in the Ancient Eight last season, and hope to break into the top three with perennial powers Harvard and Princeton. The quest to do that - and give the members of the Class of 2012 a final season to remember - resumes Saturday at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. Swim events against the Big Red begin at 1:30 p.m.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity