Bulldogs Set To Compete for Ivy League Championship

Feb. 26, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's swimming and diving team will head to Long Island, N.Y., this weekend to compete in the 33rd women's Ivy League Championship. The Bulldogs enter the event ranked fourth, with a 4-3 record in the Ivy League. Princeton (7-0), Harvard (6-1) and Columbia (5-2) make up the top three teams in the league.

Frank Keefe, Yale's Robert J.H. Kiphuth Director of Swimming, will be sending 16 swimmers and four divers to the Ivy League Championships. On the swimming side, junior Andrea Clifford, sophomore Kristin Darwin, senior Brenna Davis, freshman Caroline Dewing, senior Sara Fracapane, freshman Hayes Hyde, freshman Erica Kao, senior Marilee Kiernan, sophomore Annie Killian, junior Susan Kim, sophomore Ileana Lucos, senior Alexis Mann, senior captain Aidan McKinlay, freshman Abigail Nunn, senior Laura Strittmatter and senior Blake Walsh are going. The Bulldogs will send all four of their divers, including freshman Elizabeth Andrekovich, senior Cameron Murphy, junior Marisa J Poverman and freshman Rachel Rosenberg.

"This is a team that really cares about doing well," said Keefe. "They have a good focus to what is going on and everyone is trying to do a lifetime best time."

The Bulldogs will also be competing in the ECAC championships this weekend and will be sending senior Emily Cole to Cambridge, Mass.

"Emily Cole is really the comeback story of the year," said Keefe. "She swam freshman year, got injured, and then I pulled her out of recreational swimming at the beginning of the year. She has been great for us."

Noticeably absent from the list of swimmers heading to Long Island is freshman Emily Dominski, who has missed most of the season due to an injury.

"Emily will not be swimming for us this weekend," said Keefe. "She wants to and she would definitely help us in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, and the relays, but she needs rehab on her back."

The event will take place at the Nassau County Aquatic Center which was built in 1998 for the International Goodwill Games. The facility includes a "stretch" 50-meter pool that is 68 meters long, with three movable bulkheads. It also features a 10-meter competition diving tower as well as one- and three-meter springboards. Dozens of U.S. and world swimming records have been set at the aquatic center and the Ivy League expects many of its own records to fall this weekend.

While it will certainly be a fast pool for the Bulldogs to swim in the real story of the meet is going to be the swimsuits. Most Yale swimmers will be swimming in high-tech, full-body suits.

"The big story this year is going to be the bathing suits," said Keefe. "These are brand new, high-tech, expensive suits, and I think we are going to see a lot of records fall. Abigail Nunn swam the fastest swim of her life in practice Monday in one of these suits."

While history may be made this weekend, the recent past is on the side of Yale's rivals. Princeton has won eight of the last nine events with Harvard winning one in '04-'05. The Tigers return to the championships this year after completing a three-peat last season. They are going for their fourth straight championship, and have had little difficulty dispatching the other seven teams during the regular season.

"We can definitely finish in the top three this weekend," said Keefe. "Harvard and Princeton will be tough to break through. The gap has been closing in recent years, but it is still there. I actually think Harvard will be the team to beat at this year's meet."

Last year, Princeton won the championship with a score of 1651.5. Harvard came in just behind the Tigers with a score of 1454. After that, there is a significant drop-off to the third and fourth place teams, where Columbia and Yale scored 1016 and 986 points, respectively. The Bulldogs highest finish came Kim, who took third place in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:15.68. Kim's personal best this year was 2:15.08, which would have been good enough for second place last year. Other impressive finishes were sophomore Brittany Iacouzze and Strittmatter, who finished in fourth and fifth place in the 1650-yard freestyle, respectively. Lucos took fifth place in the 200-yard butterfly. Yale concluded the meet with a fourth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team of Lucos, Clifford, sophomore Becca Stern, and Mann finished in a time of 3:26.93, earning 52 points for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs will enter the championship with a bit of momentum behind them. They were last in the pool on Feb. 15 when they took on the Bears of Brown. Yale won that meet by a score of 181-119 and claimed 11 of 16 events. While it was good to get a victory, the real win for the Bulldogs was that most of their swimmers swam some of their fastest times. Nunn broke five minutes for the first time in the 500-yard freestyle. Clifford and Kim each picked up four victories, Clifford in two individual events and two relays, and Kim in a relay and three individual events.

The Bulldogs will try to ride that momentum and a reduced practice workload right into the Ivy League Championships.

"These past 10 days we have really taken down the yardage," said Keefe. "Practices have been about starts, technique and speed. Kids start to get nervous and we really want to try to keep them focused. Let them figure out their pre-race routines."

The meet will take place over three days with heats and finals occurring on the same day for each event. All three days will follow the same time structure, with heats beginning at 11:00 a.m. and finals at 6:00 p.m. Thursday's events will be the 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard IM, 50-yard freestyle, one-meter diving and 400-meter medley relay (final only). On Friday the structure will be the same, but the events will be the 200-yard medley relay, 1000-yard freestyle, 400-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke, 800-yard freestyle relay (final only) and three-meter diving (preliminaries only). The final Saturday will feature the 1650-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly, three-meter diving (final only) and 400-yard freestyle relay (final only). Saturday's events will be followed by the team championship trophy presentation.

"This is a fun meet because even though there are clear favorites, anything can happen," said Keefe. "You get disqualified in one relay and your meet is over."

The Bulldogs will depart for Long Island on Wednesday morning with the meet beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 at 11:00 a.m.

All the information about the meet, including links to live results and live commentary can be found here

Report filed by Charles Moore `10

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