Jan. 29, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldog men's swimming and diving team will face its toughest competition in a dual meet situation against Ivy League foes Harvard and No. 22 Princeton in the annual high-stakes H-Y-P meet on Saturday and Sunday at Blodgett Pool at Harvard. The Bulldogs hope to take momentum into the weekend after their dual-meet wins against Dartmouth and Penn on Jan. 17.
For the Bulldogs, the H-Y-P meet is a perfect opportunity to get some tough racing in before preparing for the championship portion of the season. This is the last opportunity for the Bulldogs to face the same top competitors that they will swim and dive against at the Ivy League Championships hosted by Princeton Mar. 5 through Mar. 7. Both the Tigers and the Crimson have won the league title in the past two years and both have been ranked nationally this season.
The Bulldogs enter the H-Y-P meet with a strong core of swimmers who hope that they can swim their best and emerge with strong performances and top times. The Bulldogs, who currently stand at 3-1 in Ivy League competition, fell to Harvard in 2008 by a score of 227.5-125.5 while Princeton emerged victorious by a score of 213-140. Still, Yale had some shining performances last year that it hopes to repeat, including wins in six events.
Senior captain Alex Righi led the way for the Bulldogs last year. He started the H-Y-P meet off with a victory in the 100-yard backstroke. He also added victories for the Bulldogs in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. Righi, who placed second in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events at the NCAA Championships last year, should expect to perform strongly in his events again this year. He currently has the second-fastest time in the nation in the 50-yard freestyle event and is ranked fourth in the 100-yard freestyle event. As well, he is ranked 13th in the 100-yard backstroke. Righi, however, should expect to have some tough competition from Princeton's senior Doug Lennox, who is ranked 31st nationally in the 100-yard backstroke and 21st and 11th, respectively, in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events.
Junior Thomas Robinson also performed well for the Bulldogs last year. Robinson emerged victorious in the 200-yard backstroke for the Bulldogs, winning in a time of 1:47.62, more than two seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.
The Bulldogs also picked up wins in both the one- and three-meter diving events last year. Although Jeffrey Lichtenstein '08 has graduated, the team does bring three strong and experienced divers to the meet to fill his place.
The relays also proved to be a highlight for the team in 2008. The Bulldogs picked up second-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays. As well, senior Matt Sweitzer placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke and senior Chris Pool was third in the 100-yard butterfly. Righi said that the H-Y-P meet will be tough for the team and they need to be ready to step up and swim against the tough competition.
"The H-Y-P meet will be our biggest dual-meet of the year," Righi said. "We need to be ready to swim and it will be pretty tough."
Both the Harvard and Princeton squads boast strong, deep squads that have been on the national radar. Princeton is currently ranked 22nd nationally with 69 points. Harvard, which is currently unranked, was ranked 25th in the previous rankings and still received 30 points. Both Harvard and Princeton are undefeated in Ivy League competition.
Harvard currently sits at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in Ivy League competition. The Crimson won the Ivy League, EISL and ECAC titles last year and had three NCAA qualifiers. The Crimson, however, lost one of their top swimmers, Geoff Rathgeber, to graduation, but return senior distance swimmer Eric Lynch, who competed in the 500- and 1650-yard freestyle events at the NCAA Championships. Harvard defeated Navy 188-112 earlier in the season. Navy registered a win over Yale on Jan. 10.
Princeton is also undefeated in the Ivy League with 4-0 record. The Tigers have also recently been at the top of the Ivy League, winning titles in 2006 and 2007. The Tigers are led by senior Doug Lennox, who competed at the 2008 Olympics for Puerto Rico and placed fourth at the NCAA Championships in the 200-yard butterfly.
Competition gets underway at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity