NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The women's swimming and diving team wrapped up a tremendous regular season - and the home career of its decorated head coach and senior class - in style Saturday with an emphatic 202-98 win over the University of Connecticut.
Amidst pregame speeches, on short rest, and with the formidable Huskies on the other side of the pool, the women's team swam exactly as Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe wished: to their potential.
"All the ceremony, the band, the crowd - it was spectacular," Keefe said. "But there's a swimming meet going on, and that's what my job is all about. The kids swam well, and that's what pleased me the most."
The women wasted no time in making sure Coach Keefe's final meet would be a memorable one, as the A team of Emily Dominski, Susan Kim, Alex Forrester and Cynthia Tsay beat out the second place Huskies by over three and a half seconds (1:44.50). The B crew of Molly Albrecht, Athena Liao, Andrea Clifford and Erica Kao took third (1:49.21).
Kim and Clifford would continue to celebrate successful senior days. Kim set a new pool record (1:02.77) as she took victory in the 100 yard breaststroke, and then shattered the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool mark in the 200 breaststroke (2:14.23) en route to the win in that event. Kim also earned first in the 200 yard IM (2:07.04), giving her a hat trick of victories on the day. Clifford, the captain, took third in the 100 yard butterfly (1:00.02).
While the class of 2010 impressed, Yale's underclassmen ensured that they would be just fine after the graduation of Clifford, Kim, and fellow senior day honorees Deb Gruen, Jennifer Karinen, Jane Kim, Faris Montgomery and Marisa Poverman.
Sophomore Abby Nunn took third in the 1000 yard freestyle (10:25.45). Freshman Joan Weaver (1:52.24) and juniors Ileana Lucos (1:52.83) and Kristin Darwin (1:54.87) swept the top three spots in the 200 yard freestyle, a performance Dominski (57.30) and Albrecht (58.29) then followed up with a 1-2 finish in the 100 yard backstroke.
Athena Liao backed up Kim's win in the 100 yard breaststroke with a third place finish (1:07.43), and Forrester (then combined with classmate Monica Tung to finish first and second in the 200 yard butterfly. Forrester's time of 1:57.07 bested her own time from January 30th's HYP meet to set a new Yale record.
Tsay (23.98) and Kao (24.82) edged the Huskies to place first and second in the 50 yard freestyle, and the Bulldogs followed that up with another sweep of the top three in the 100 yard freestyle thanks to a new pool record (50.09) from Alex Forrester, and strong swims from Tsay (52.33) and freshman Hayes Hyde (53.51).
Albrecht won the 200 yard backstroke (2:03.86) while Jane Kim took third (2:10.32). Joan Weaver won her second event of the day, finishing the 500 yard freestyle in 4:59.15. Tung and Lucos went 1-2 in the 100 yard butterfly.
The Bulldogs gave their seniors and coach a sendoff to remember in the 400 yard freestyle relay, as Yale squads swept the top three spots, led by the A team of Tsay, Dominski, Lucos, and Forrester, who finished the race in 3:29.91.
In the diving competition, Rachel Rosenberg turned in a solid performance to finish second in the 1 meter event (260.77), an Paige Menesses's score of 278.32 was good for second overall in the 3 meter event.
The win sends Yale's record to 8-3 this dual meet season, and is one to remember for their coach - and for the program that will hate to see him go.
"It was great to see the seniors do so well." Keefe said. "But the hardest thing is leaving kids behind. There's a strong bond between coaches and athletes and that's why coaches don't leave. I hate to leave the kids I have now, but after 31 years and 491 meets you just get worn out. It's time to go."
While it may be the end of an era in the Kiphuth Exhibition pool, it's not, in fact, quite time for Coach Keefe's reign to come to its end. Championship Season now looms for the Bulldogs, who will compete in the Ivy League Championships beginning February 25th at Harvard.
Report Filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity.