Feb. 28, 2009
LONG ISLAND, N.Y. - Junior Susan Kim won her second event of the Ivy League Championships, and freshman Hayes Hyde added her name to the list of Bulldogs that have won at Ivies with an impressive showing in the 200-yard butterfly. Yale took third overall with a score of 1038, holding off a charging Penn (948) and Columbia (916). Harvard and Princeton took first and second in the championship with scores of 1583.5 and 1334, respectively. Darmouth (630), Brown (627) and Cornell (494.5) rounded out the bottom three.
"The girls swam out of their minds today," said Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming Frank Keefe. "I'd say 95% of our swims were as solid as they could be. The girls should be really proud of what they have done this year."
The Bulldogs significantly improved upon their performance from last year where they finished fourth with 986 points and did not manage to place higher than third in any single event. This year was marked by three first-place finishes, two second-place finishes, two all-time Ivy records, three NCAA B cuts, and strong performances from all of Yale's swimmers.
"The freshmen have really helped this year," said Keefe. "Having a Hayes Hyde on the team that can jump in and do extremely well, break the Yale record in the 200-yard IM, and win the 200-yard butterfly is a huge help. Caroline Dewing scored for us in the 200-yard breaststroke today and has been a nice surprise. Erica Kao was a walk-on that made the Ivy team and helped us out in some relays this weekend."
With only a day left in the Ivy League Championships, the Bulldogs needed to have a strong showing in the morning to make sure they could hold onto their lead over Penn and Columbia. Yale's swimmer's delivered in a big way. Beginning with the 200-yard backstroke, Yale once again only had one swimmer entered in the backstroke, but senior Brenna Davis came up big, finishing in seventh place and earning a spot in the A final. Her time of 2:02.49 was just .08 seconds off of sixth place, and only 2.84 seconds off the leader, Meghan Leddy of Harvard.
The Bulldogs struggled a bit in the 100-yard freestyle, as they were unable to get any swimmers into the A or B final. Junior Andrea Clifford and Senior Alexis Mann did make it into the C final, however. Clifford placed 18th with a time of 52.21, and Mann came in 20th with her time of 52.39. Freshman Erica Kao just missed out on the night session with a time of 53.68.
If there was any disappointment after the 100-yard freestyle, it was immediately wiped away with the 200-yard breaststroke. After breaking the all-time Ivy League record in the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday night, Kim wasted no time dismantling the 200-yard breaststroke, deciding to do it in the prelims, instead of waiting for the finals. Kim's time of 2:13.14 broke her own personal record by 1.91 seconds, the meet record by .81 seconds, and the all-time Ivy record by .26 seconds. The Ivy League record was set by Princeton's Alicia Aemisegger in 2007, but the meet record had stood since 1992, when it was set by Gabriella Csepe of American. Kim also earned another NCAA B cut time, surpassing the mark by 2.39 seconds. Kim's closest competitor in the race was a full 1.86 seconds behind her. But Kim was not the only Yale swimmer in the race, Senior Marilee Kiernan also made it through to the A final with her eighth place time of 2:20.52. Freshman Caroline Dewing came in 16th, good enough for a spot in the B final.
The 200-yard butterfly was perhaps Yale's strongest team effort of the entire championship, and it is poised to be a battle of rivals. Harvard and Yale each advanced three swimmers into the night session's A final. Perhaps even more impressive, however, was freshman Hayes Hyde who earned the first NCAA B cut of her collegiate swimming career. Hyde's time of 1:58.20 was good enough for a second-place finish and well under the NCAA B cut time of 1:59.54. Hyde would have also set the meet record if Kate Mills from Harvard had not swum 1:56.23. Joining Hyde in the A final will be senior captain Aidan McKinlay and sophomore Ileana Lucos. McKinlay came in fourth place with a time of 2:01.61, and she was followed by Lucos in sixth place with a time of 2:02.35. Yale also placed one swimmer in the B final, as sophomore Kristin Darwin came in 16th with a time of 2:05.52.
With the Bulldogs (675) only 54 points ahead of Penn (621), the Bulldogs would need a strong night session to hold on to their lead.
The Bulldogs opened the night session with the 1650-yard freestyle, an event with no preliminaries due to its length. Coming into the event, Princeton's Alicia Aemisegger was the reigning champion, the meet record holder and the all-time Ivy League record holder. After Saturday, she will retain all three. Aemisegger won with a time of 15:57.34, but the Bulldogs managed to pick up some significant points for Yale. Senior Laura Strittamtter and sophomore Annie Killian combined to take seventh and eighth for the Bulldogs. Strittmatter finished in a time of 16:51.62, with Killian right behind her at 16:52.05. Freshman Abigail Nunn also picked up points for Yale in 12th place. Her time was 17:02.64. Yale's only other competitor, senior Sara Fracapane, picked up nine points for Yale in seventeenth place, with a time of 17:19.28. In total, Yale collected 54 points in the 1650-yard freestyle.
"We had four girls in this race that were probably seeded somewhere between 20th and 30th place," said Keefe. "All four girls surpassed their seeds and Annie Killian dropped 50 seconds off her time from the last time she swam this race. She looked up at the scoreboard and was laughing because she could not believe she had gone that fast."
Yale managed to widen their margin over Penn to 89 points, which they would need heading into the 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle, where Yale had only one competitor in each. In the 200-yard backstroke, Davis was Yale's only swimmer in the event, but she was competing in the A final. Davis took fifth place for Yale with a time of 2:01.86, earning 25 points.
"If you look at reasons we did much better this you have to look to someone like Brenna Davis," said Keefe. "Brenna did not have a very good year last year, and she comes back at this year's championship and goes 2:01.86, a lifetime best. That was a big help to us."
The event was won by Harvard's Meghan Leddy, who earned an NCAA B cut with her time of 1:57.51. Each with only one swimmer in the event, both Yale and Penn lost ground to the charging Lions of Columbia. After the 200-yard backstroke, Columbia (696.5) had passed Penn (693), but they were still over 72.5 points off of Yale (769).
Yale had two swimmers in the C final of the 100-yard freestyle. Clifford and Mann took 18th and 19th place, respectively, claiming 13 points for Yale. Clifford's time of 51.44 was just .01 second off first place in the C final. Mann was just behind her at 52.15 second. With only 13 points earned in the 100-yard freestyle, the Bulldogs were starting to get nervous with Penn and Columbia closing in on them. Yale's 782 points was only 38 points ahead of Columbia and 42 points ahead of Penn.
Yale once again rewrote the record books in the 200-yard breaststroke, as Kim won her second event of the Ivy League Championships. Kim broke the all-time record in the morning with her time of 2:13.14, but decided that she could do better, winning the A final with a time of 2:12.86. She once again broke the meet record, all-time record, her own personal-best, and inched closer to the elusive NCCA A cut time of 2:10.32. Not only did she rewrite the record books, but she did it in dominating fashion, as her next closest competitor was a full 1.13 seconds behind her.
"The records were great, but they were honestly a huge surprise," said Kim. "I swam a best time in the morning in all my races, and, for instance, in the 100-breaststroke, I went back to the hotel and in between sessions and thought I had swam such a good race, I didn't think I could go any faster. So to get the record in that race in the night session was a huge shock."
Kiernan also competed for Yale in the A final, coming in seventh with her time of 2:19.63. Dewing took 13th overall and fifth in the B final with a time of 2:23.21. In total, the Bulldogs picked up 69 points in the event, but unfortunately Penn picked up more. After the event, Yale had 851 points with Penn right behind at 838. Yale would have to put their third-place hopes on the back of the 200-yard butterfly, where they had three swimmers into the A final.
Yale's butterfliers did not disappoint, as the freshman Hyde, who took second in the morning prelims, won the 200-yard butterfly in a convincing manner as the next closest swimmer was 1.47 seconds behind her. Hyde's time of 1:59.15 was actually slower than her prelim time, but still good enough to win, as many swimmers swam slower after three grueling days of competition. Hyde was joined by McKinlay and Lucos in the A final who took fourth and sixth, respectively.
"Aidan McKinlay has had a phenomenal championship for us," said Keefe. "She had a great 100-yard butterfly and a great 200-yard butterfly. She was been a great leader and was exactly what our girls needed this year."
McKinlay's time of 2:02.57 and Lucos's time of 2:03.22 earned the Bulldogs a total of 50 points. When combined with Hyde's 32 points and the 12 points picked up by Darwin in the B Final, Yale accumulated 94 points in the butterfly. Darwin finished 15th overall with a time of 2:06.12. With all the accumulated points in the 200-yard butterfly, Yale extended their lead over Penn back out to a more comfortable 72 points, but they were by no means out of the woods.
"We were in a bit of a battle with Penn and Columbia up until this point," said Keefe. "But the other teams just did not have our depth in the butterfly."
Heading into the three-meter diving, Yale had three divers in the B final and Penn only had one that made it out of the preliminaries. Poverman, Andrekovich and Rosenberg finished in 13th, 14th and 16th, respectively. Poverman and Andrekovich almost tied, as Poverman scored 218.30 and Andrekovich put up 218.00. Rosenberg was behind the other two with 189.25 points. The three divers combined to score Yale 38 points, extending their lead over Penn, which scored only 23 points.
Yale held an 84 point lead over Penn heading into the last event of the championship, and even if Yale were to be disqualified in the 400-yard freestyle relay, third place was theirs. Luckily Yale did not get disqualified and instead took fourth place with a time of 3:23.91. The team of Clifford, Mann, Lucos and Hyde earned Yale 52 points and their second third place finish in as many years.
"We had a goal this year of finishing in third at Ivies," said Kim. "We knew that we were the underdogs coming, but our goal was to take it one race at a time and just do our best. Our group finally decided to toss away all the excuses that we could have made for all our injuries and setbacks, and just step up and believe in ourselves. It was truly a collective effort."
The Bulldogs season ends here, unless one of their swimmers makes it to nationals. Kim and Hyde have the best chances of doing so, since each has earned an NCAA B cut in their respective events. Invitations to NCAAs will be announced this coming Thursday, March 5.
Report filed by Charles Moore '10, Yale Sports Publicity