Yale Edges Out Columbia for Win in Exciting Finale

Kei Hyogo (photo by Alexandra Schmeling '16)
Kei Hyogo (photo by Alexandra Schmeling '16)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale men's swimming and diving team defeats Columbia in a challenging meet at home on Nov. 12.  The two teams traded the point advantage throughout the meet, even tying in points after several events in the meet.  Coming down to the last two events, Yale managed to just barely take victory over Columbia, 152 – 148. 

"Today was a hard fought win and one that we won't be forgetting anytime soon," said team captain Alex Goss. "Every time they picked up momentum, we snatched it right back. It was truly inspiring watching our team fight back against everything thrown at us." 

Starting off the meet, Yale took second and fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, a closely fought event.  Yale's 'A' relay – junior Shawn Nee, Goss, junior Aaron Greenberg and freshman Henry Gaissert – took the lead during the breaststroke leg, but Columbia managed to rally in the freestyle leg and overtake Yale. 

Junior Kei Hyogo continued to dominate the long-distance freestyle events.  In the 1000-yard freestyle, Hyogo took a quick lead at the beginning of the race, splitting the first 100 yards at 51.77, and continued building his momentum through the race. Finishing at an impressive 9:02.47, he dropped over 12 seconds from his last performance this season and was only four seconds off his personal best in the event.  Moreover, Hyogo's time in the 1000-yard freestyle was the third fastest time in the nation as of Nov. 12.  Hyogo went on to take first in the 500-yard freestyle at 4:28.97 in a similar fashion.

Just behind Hyogo in the long-distance freestyle events, senior Ben Lerude staved off the Columbia swimmers, finishing runner-up in both the 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyle events.  In the 500-yard freestyle, Lerude pulled ahead around the middle of the race and just barely held on to his lead, edging out Columbia's swimmer by three one-hundredths of a second in an exciting finish to touch at 4:31.07.  Freshman Christopher Miller rounded out the long-distance crew, finishing fifth in both events.   

Coming off strong performances from his last meet, Greenberg again finished first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.84 and first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.20, over a second faster than the next swimmer.  Following Greenberg in  the 100-yard freestyle, sophomore Scott Bole touched fourth in the 100-yard freestyle at 45.79, while Gaissert finished fourth at 20.92 and fifth at 45.92 in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle respectively.

In a tight race separated by just tenths of seconds, Yale took second, third and fourth in the 200-yard freestyle.  Leading the Yale pack, Bole finished runner-up with a time of 1:38.58, barely out-touched by Columbia's swimmer.  Following closely behind, junior Jonathan Rutter finished third with a time of 1:39.21 while sophomore Adrian Lin took fourth with a time of 1:39.73. 

Freshman Chris LaBella continued to impress in the diving events, finishing runner-up in both the one-meter and three-meter diving events.  LaBella only placed behind the reigning Ivy League Champion, Jayden Pantel, who also broke the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool record in the three-meter diving event. 

Yale's backstrokers struggled against Columbia, but still raced admirably.  In the 100-yard backstroke, sophomore Ed Stolarski took third place with a time of 50:51, just ahead of Nee, who finished fourth with a time of 50:53.  Senior Alex Schultz led the Yale backstrokers in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing third with a time of 1:51.67.  Nee and Stolarski followed closely behind and both touched at 1:51.68 in a two-way tie for fourth.

Continuing Yale's success in the breaststroke events, junior Derek Kao took first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55.99.  Goss also touched fourth at 58.09, just barely getting out-touched for third.   In the 200-yard breaststroke, Rutter took the lead in the first 100-yards and held on to finish first with a time of 2:02.09.  Kao, who was in the fourth position for most of the race, managed to overtake Columbia's swimmer in the last 25 yards, taking third with a time of 2:04.32. 

In the 200-yard butterfly, sophomore Joey Carbone grabbed the lead in the first 100 yards and held on to touch first at 1:51.71.  Just behind Carbone, freshman Duncan Lee finished runner-up with a time of 1:51.75.  Schultz rounded out the event with a fourth place finish and a time of 1:52.30.  Freshmen Ryan Huizing and Lee led the Yale butterfliers in the 100-yard butterfly.  Huizing touched third at 50.15, shaving over a second and a half from his last performance.  Lee followed closely behind in fourth with a time of 50.79. 

The results of the 100-yard butterfly left the meet at an exact tie, 132 – 132, with the final outcome coming down to the last two events, the 200-yard individual medley and the 400-yard freestyle relay. 

Starting off the 200-yard individual medley, Hyogo took an early lead in the butterfly leg, continuing to maintain his lead to finish first at 1:48.56.  Rutter, who was just behind Hyogo in the butterfly leg, fell back to third during the backstroke and breaststroke legs.  In an exciting finish, Rutter ran down Columbia's swimmer in the final freestyle leg to finish runner-up at 1:51.50.  Hyogo's and Rutter's performances gave Yale a critical boost over Columbia with the total score at 146 – 137. 

Since relay events score extra points, the meet came down to the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.  Yale decided to strategically "split" the 'A' and 'B' relays, placing Greenberg on the 'B' relay.  Yale's 'A' relay started the event off well in the lead, but gradually Columbia's 'A' relay managed to overtake Yale, which was to be expected.  With Columbia's 'A' relay continually extending their lead, the outcome of the meet rested on Yale's 'B' relay to finish ahead of Columbia's 'B' relay.  Behind at the halfway point, Yale's 'B' relay rallied in the last two legs to overtake Columbia's 'B' relay, finishing third at 3:03.37.  The second place finish of the 'A' relay, who touched at 3:02.22, and the third place finish of the 'B' relay gave Yale enough points to take victory over Columbia.

"I'm really proud with the way we raced and competed today.  It is a testament to the work the guys have been putting in the weight room and the pool," remarked Tim Wise, the Robert J. H. Kiphuth Director of Men's Swimming and Diving.  

"Columbia was as good as we expected them to be – we were very fortunate to come out on top.  Special thanks to all the alums who came out to support our program.  They definitely gave us a tremendous home pool advantage."

 

With their second straight Ivy League win, the Bulldogs will travel to Virginia Tech in the upcoming week for an invitational. 

 
 

Report by Neil Zheng '19, Yale Sports Publicity