With this year’s returning cast, that outcome may not be entirely out of the question.
The Ivy Championships marked the highlight of the Crimson’s season last year, with six school records—four individual and two relay—falling during the competition.
Of those, three individual record holders—senior Anna Fraser and sophomores Molly Ward and Molly Brethauer—will return this season. Each of the relay teams lost one member but remain otherwise intact.
Unfortunately for last year’s squad, even those personal bests were only good enough for third in the Ivy League—a position held by the Crimson at the end of the season three of the past four years.
“We knew last year that everyone would have had to swim beyond their best to win,” Brethauer said.
Harvard expects production from all of its classes this time out, including the freshmen.
“No one is going to shoulder the team,” co-captain Jane Humphries said. “There are two or three swimmers in each year we can always count on.”
Beyond the talent of the swimmers, the level of conditioning for this year surpasses that of years past. Working with a new weights coach, the team is in far better shape than at this point last year,” Humphries said.
The camaraderie and positive attitude have elevated has the performance of Harvard’s swimmers in the past.
“I think it helps especially in terms of being excited to be going to practice,” Humphries said of the team’s traditional tightness. “We all have confidence in each other and can trust each other.”
Ward, coming off her record-setting 51.11-second performance last year in the 100, will lead the freestyle swimmers.
This year, she is likely to swim in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events as well as each of the relays.
In longer distance competition, tested veteran senior Vicki Chang figures to compete for an Ivy title in the 1000-yard freestyle.
Co-captain Rachael O’Beirne—previously an Ivy breaststroke finalist— and junior Erica DeBenedetto, who swam breaststroke for the record-breaking 400-yard medley relay team, will attempt to build on last year’s success.
Lessening the pressure on the pair is freshman Jane Evans, who has already made her mark in this young season.