The Harvard women's swim team eased its way back into competition at Northeastern this weekend. After a two-week hiatus for exams, the Crimson was excited to take a break from regular practice by blowing away the Huskies, 176-105. Harvard 176 N.U. 105
While Northeastern is not Harvard's fiercest competition, it was a fun way for the Crimson to warm up for a big meet this weekend at Princeton.
Saturday's meet was totally non-competitive. The Crimson swimmers even switched their events with their teammates, just to see how it would go.
"It was a nice break for us because it wasn't a high pressured event," freshman Sandie Stringfellow said. "Almost everyone got to swim off events, events they don't usually swim, so it was a fun, low key meet."
After a relaxing weekend, however, the women have a much tougher team to contend with next--Princeton.
Traditionally, the Tigers have been the strongest opponents for the Crimson. For the past few years, this meet has decided the Ivy champions as both teams go into it undefeated.
"Even though this meet basically decides the Ivy title," co-captain Kristan Gately said, "we have no pressure on us going into this weekend.
"I can't tell the last time we've beaten Princeton in a dual meet. Last year we came the closest, losing by only five points, and this year we have a better team. We're trying to stay focused on ourselves and on gearing up for a huge meet. A win would be amazing, of course, but a loss would be fine as well."
Princeton's strength comes from the depth of its team as well as its stars. This year Harvard has attempted to match Princeton's depth with a batch of freshman stars.
"We got a great group of freshman recruits," Gately said. "We have lost of depth on our team this year which is great. We're focusing on Easterns at the end of February more than on Princeton, but we're definitely going to be competitive this weekend."
One of the perennial strengths of this Crimson team has been its sense of team spirit. This year's freshman class admits that although the transition from high school to collegiate athletics is supposedly tough, it has not been as difficult as expected.
"It was an easy transition for me to make from high school," freshman Stephanie Lawrence said. "I was ready for a new coach and I really liked Maura (Scalise).
"Coming in as a freshman, I felt like I had to do really well to be accepted as part of the team. But I was accepted no matter how I did. We really act and work well as a team. We can beat Princeton this weekend but it will take focus. Maybe it's because I'm a freshman and I've never faced them before, but we can definitely beat them."
Teammate and classmate Stringfellow also feels strongly about the Crimson's chances against the mighty Tigers. With such team spirit from the freshmen, the Crimson has a positive base for the fun part of their season, after many months of training.
"We are a really solid team and this is our chance to beat Princeton," Stringfellow said. "They're our biggest rivals and toughest competition but we're equal in strength and depth this year. This will be a big weekend."