Aquawomen Shoot for Easterns--Again
Don't call it a dynasty--yet.
Wait until the Harvard women's swimming team has won the Eastern Swimming Championships for the fourth time in five years and the second time in a row.
Which, if all goes well, will occur late Saturday night. Then, by all rights, the team will earn the right to call itself a dynasty.
"With the amount of hard work we've put in," Co-Captain Stacie Duncan said, "it would be very hard for any team to beat us."
Harvard (6-1 Ivy) hosts the Easterns this year. Races are scheduled for today, tomorrow and Saturday at Blodgett Pool.
The competition includes all the Ivy League schools as well as 15 other teams from the Eastern Conference.
The Crimson, which shared the Ivy crown with Yale and Princeton, is expected to win the tournament with an impressive display of depth and talent.
Favorites Going In
"We are picked to be the favorite," Coach Maura Costin-Scalise said. "But I just tell my swimmers to get up and go."
Harvard's only loss came to Princeton, 151-149. But this loss was more a result of Princeton's training schedule than a preponderance of Tiger talent.
Princeton reduced the intensity of its practice before its dual meet with Harvard, while the Crimson continued its normal training schedule for Easterns.
"It's really hard to get up in the middle of the season for a team that focuses its entire season around you," Costin-Scalise said.
Harvard actually expects to face its stiffest challenge from Yale, and American University.
The Crimson whomped on Yale earlier this year, winning in New Haven, 180-120.
However, the Elis defeated Princeton in a dual meet last weekend to create the three-way tie for first in the Ancient Eight.
Still, Harvard is expected to win, simply because it can bring more talent to bear.
"There are some scattered individual swimmers who might hurt us," Duncan said, "but we have depth on our side."
Harvard's formula for success this season has been a blend of experience and youth.
While senior Co-Captains Duncan and Stephanie Wriede (who is headed for the NCAA championships and the Olympic trials) anchor the team, the heart of the Crimson is its freshman class.
Twelve out of the team's 31 swimmers and divers belong to the class of '95.
"Being young is not necessarily equated with inexperience," Costin-Scalise said. "The freshmen swam very hard all year. Their spirit and drive combined with the older swimmers' experience should stand us in good stead."
Standout Deborah Kory leads the freshmen. Kory already has set school records in the 200 and 400 Individual Medley.
"I have confidence in the freshmen pulling through for us," Duncan said. "They have proved themselves again and again throughout the season."
The team is also counting on juniors Eva Romas and Lynn Kelley, as well as sophomore backstroker Allison Estes. Romas and Kelley specialize in the freestyle events, and are both on Harvard's freestyle relay team.
To secure its victory, Harvard will need a strong showing in the preliminary heats today and tomorrow.
A weak showing in the early heats could leave an opening for Yale or American to challenge the Crimson seriously.
"The meet is going to be won in the morning," Costin-Scalise said. "We need to place people in the finals to get the points we need to win the meet.
"Putting people in the consolation swims won't get us the win," she added.