NEW HAVEN, Conn. -
On the surface, it may seem that the women's swimming and diving team has a very different look this season. Head Coach Frank Keefe retired after 32 seasons at the helm, and Cristina Teuscher has taken over a squad that graduated one of the most prolific swimmers in the program's history: Susan Kim.
Yet as one plunges deeper, it becomes apparent that this year's edition is in great position duplicate last season's success – if not improve on it. Led by captain Annie Killian and last year's freshman phenom Alex Forrester, Yale is a team surrounded by excitement as they dive into their 2010-2011 season Friday night at 6 p.m. against Columbia.
The Seniors: Captain Killian is one of the Bulldogs' top distance swimmers, having taken eighth overall at the Ivy League Championships in the 1650-yard freestyle (17:01.29) and twelfth in the 1000-yard freestyle. Her times in both the 1000-yard and 500-yard free at the Ivy League Championships were over five seconds less than her best time prior to the meet, telling because she was one of Yale's main forces in those events all season.
Ileana Lucos will also be counted on as one of the main leaders of the Bulldogs, having proven her versatility last season in making contributions in both the 200- and 100-yard butterfly and the 200- and 100-yard freestyle. Lucos was fourth in the 200-yard butterfly at the Ivy Championships, and took first against both Cornell and Penn/Dartmouth. She also took fourth in the 200-yard free at the Ivies after swimming the event only once during the regular season.
Kristin Darwin rounds out the trio of the class of 2011, coming off a season in which she earned the Tim Jecko Award for outstanding performance in the individual medley. Darwin was certainly deserving, taking fourth at the Ivy League Championships in the 400-yard IM (4:25.92) for the second straight season.
Forrester leads the way for a talented group of returners, having finished 25th in the NCAA Division I Championship meet in the 50-yard freestyle, and ninth overall in the 100-yard butterfly (52.35). First team all-Ivy in both events, she also set the Ivy League record in the 100-yard butterfly (52.64) against Harvard and Princeton, while going undefeated in the event throughout the entire season. Also impressive was her performance in the 200-yard butterfly, and event she took tenth overall in at the NCAA Division I Championships (1:55.32). She was also first-team all Ivy in that event, as well as in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays – teams that took first at the Ivy League Championships for the Bulldogs.
Junior Hayes Hide will also be a force for Yale this season, coming off a third place finish at the Ivy League Championships in the 200-yard butterfly. She took fifth at that meet in the 200-yard IM, and was one of the Bulldogs' top swimmers in those events since her freshman year.
Sophomore Molly Albrecht was first-team All Ivy as a member of the Ivy League Champion 200-yard medley relay, and finished second at the Ivy League championships in the 200-yard backstroke. She was sixth overall in the 100-yard backstroke at that meet, with a time of 56.38. Her classmate Joan Weaver also had a strong debut season for the Bulldogs, taking fifth at the Ivy League Championships in the 500-yard freestyle (4:50.85) and sixth in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:12.78). Weaver won the 1000 free against Penn and Dartmouth, and took second against this Saturday's opponent: Columbia.
Cynthia Tsay was also a part of those Ivy League Champion relay teams, and took sixth in the Ancient Eight in the 100-yard freestyle. Erica Kao will also add depth to Yale's sprint teams, competing in the 50-yard freestyle last season, and taking second against UConn at 24.82.
Abbey Nunn was another force in the distance sector for Coach Keefe last season, making major contributions in both the 1,000- and 500-yard freestyle. She and sophomore Margaret Brown will both add much needed depth to a distance squad that endures grueling swims every single meet.
Sophomore Victoria Lawrence had top five finishes in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke in 2009-2010, and junior Athena Liao will be one of the Bulldogs' top breaststrokers, having finished fifth in the Ivy League in the 200-yard race (2:16.54) and fourth in the 100-yarder (1:03.45).
Yale welcomes eight new swimmers and one new diver to the squad in 2010. Gabrielle Bunney (Northbrook, Ill.), Kate Byron (Richmond, V.A.), and Noelle Thew (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) will all bolster the Bulldogs' sprint freestyle corps, while Michelle Huang (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Courtney Randolph (Davie, Fla.), and Angela Lee (Irvine, Calif.) add depth to the mid-distance and distance freestyling crew.
Rachel Rosenberg leads the way for a talented group of divers, coming off a season in which she took home Diver of the Meet honors at the Ivy League Championships. She took 15th overall in the NCAA Zone Diving Championships' three-meter competition, and 12th in the Zones' one-meter event.
Also back this year is Paige Meneses, who finished in 16th – just behind Rosenberg – at last year's Zones in the three-meter, and just missed the finals at that meet in the one-meter competition.
Those two will be joined by freshman Christina Brasco, a Weston, Conn. native who was a four-time all-state selection and four-time AAU national qualifier.
The Bulldogs kick off the Teuscher era with a home meet against Columbia Saturday at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Their first away competition of the season comes with a trip to the Terrier Invitational at Boston University on Nov. 20th. They then make a trip to the US Short Course Nationals at Columbia, OH, to round out their pre-break competition, returning for a trip to Ithaca to face off against Cornell on Jan. 8th. A week later, Penn and Dartmouth will be in town – a rematch of last year's resounding win for the Bulldogs. That will be followed by a trip to Navy, and then a return to New Haven for the much-anticipated Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, in which Yale finished third last season – a finish they will undoubtedly hope to improve on this season.
UConn is next on the docket, followed by a home meet at Brown as the final tuneup before the Ivy League Championships. Yale will look to make a splash when their 2010-2011 season gets underway Saturday in New Haven.
Report filed by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity