CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The 2012 Ivy League Championships were off to an exciting start at Harvard's Blodgett Pool Thursday as junior Alexandra Forrester took down her own school record in the 50-yard freestyle. Other notable finishes came from Hayes Hyde and captain Rachel Rosenberg, who each took second in the 200-yard individual medley and the one-meter diving event, respectively, as well as Joan Weaver, who took fourth in the 500-yard freestyle. Forrester's 50 free prelim time was the first NCAA B-cut to come from the Bulldogs, and before the day was through they would see two more come from Hyde's 200 IM and from the 400-yard medley relay. After the first day of competition the Bulldogs are sitting in a solid third place with 339.5 points.
The meet began with the Bulldogs making a statement in the 500-yard freestyle. Molly Albrecht posted the third-fastest time with 4:49.62, with teammate Weaver not far behind in fifth with a time of 4:51.90. After 200 yards just 0.44 seconds separated first from sixth, and Weaver was able to close the gap on this tight field to make it two Bulldogs in the top five. Princeton, the reigning Ivy League Champion, was unable to put any of its swimmers in the top eight. Freshman Rebecca DeLaFuente also earned a second race, finishing 19th with a time of 4:59.78.
In the 200-yard individual medley Hyde posted the fourth-fastest time (2:02.94). Four swimmers had faster splits than Hyde after the butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke legs, but Hyde came home in 29.09 on the freestyle leg to position herself solidly in the top half of the swimmers headed to the evening's final. Athena Liao (2:05.80) and Courtney Randolph (2:06.32) also got another chance to prove themselves in the consolation final and bonus final, respectively.
The heats of the 50-yard freestyle saw the first NCAA B-cut met by a member of the Bulldog roster. Forrester posted the fastest time in a field of 36 swimmers, clocking in at 22.71 ahead of the NCAA B-cut (22.99). Cynthia Tsay was also headed to the final, posting a 23.59 for sixth place. Helena Gali tied for 15th with a time of 23.91 to go to the consolation final.
Yale's divers echoed the finish of Albrecht and Weaver in the 500 free, with Paige Meneses and captain Rosenberg taking third and fifth, respectively, in the one-meter preliminaries. Meneses put up 253.35 points, followed closely by Rosenberg with 251.20 points. Lauren Gardanier brought in 233.20 points to earn a spot in the consolation final.
The Bulldogs were on the board with a third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Yale's lineup of Forrester, Gali, Cassidy Lapp and Hyde finished in a time of 1:32.81, just 0.23 behind Columbia in first. Forrester put Yale in a dead heat for second with Columbia at 22.87 after the first 50 yards, Princeton owning the lead at 22.61. After 150 yards the Bulldogs had dropped back to fourth place behind Harvard, but Hyde came home in 22.90 to Harvard's 23.23 to put Yale back in the top three.
Weaver had a career-best swim in the finals of the 500-yard freestyle. Albrecht – Yale's record-holder in the event – finished sixth with a time of 4:50.79, but Weaver was able to follow up her time of 4:51.90 from the morning with a 4:49.55 in the evening. The pair was just out of reach of Albrecht's record of 4:47.14, which would have been good enough for an NCAA B-cut. In the bonus final, DeLaFuente finished second for an 18th-place finish overall with a time of 4:56.47.
Yale continued to impress when Hyde dove in for the 200 IM finals. Hyde improved on her fourth-fastest time in the prelims with a second-place finish in the finals. Hyde clocked in at 2:01.00, well ahead of the NCAA B-cut in the event (2:01.79). Hyde set the Yale record in the 200 IM at Ivy's in her freshman year, posting a time of 2:00.97. Liao brought in points for Yale with an eighth-place finish in the consolation final with a time of 2:06.44, as did Randolph who took third in the bonus final with a time of 2:05.23.
After being so close in the 500 free and the 200 IM, the first Yale record of the meet fell with Forrester taking second in the 50-yard freestyle. Forrester touched the wall in 22.63, again good for an NCAA B-cut and lowering her own Yale record of 22.66. Princeton's Lisa Boyce won the event with a time of 22.45, breaking a 30-year old pool record. Tsay took eighth with a time of 23.98, and Gali tied for fifth in the consolation final with a time of 23.95.
In the one-meter diving finals, Rosenberg took second with 280.45 points. Meneses came in eighth place with a score of 257.35, and Gardanier finished fifth in the consolation final with a score of 228.25.
The Bulldogs met their third NCAA B-cut in the 400-yard medley relay. Yale took second with a time of 3:41.25, just keeping out of reach of Harvard on the homestretch (3:41.27). Columbia won the event with a time of 3:40.87, meaning Yale had begun to chip away at Harvard and Princeton's lead.
After six events the Bulldogs have racked up 339.5 points. Princeton and Harvard are both less than 100 points ahead at 429.5 points and 432.5 points, respectively. Competition will resume Friday at 11:00 a.m. with the heats of the 400-yard individual medley.
Report filed by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity