Still, the finish was the Crimson’s highest since 1996, when the team brought home the Ivy title.
Since then, Harvard’s fortunes have taken a downturn, as the Crimson has struggled to break through the glass ceiling constructed above it by the Tigers and Brown, who have combined to win the last six Ivy titles.
The first day of competition appeared to offer more of the same, as Harvard—fielding only twelve swimmers on the day, in contrast to other squads’ fifteen—quickly fell to fourth, far behind Princeton and the Bears but just following Yale.
“I don’t think it shook us very much since historically we’ve been a really strong back half team,” freshman Emily Stapleton said. “We knew that we had more firepower coming later.”
The second day of the meet offered new opportunities and, ultimately, different results.
The Crimson passed both Brown and the Bulldogs as 13 top-eight finishes propelled Harvard to a distant second place, with Princeton firmly in control and the Bears just five and a half points behind.
“Our coach had pointed out to us that we were pretty much matched up with Brown since we each had nine finalists,” Stapleton said. “We had more people in the [consolation finals], but we were basically the aggressors. They were going into finals better off seeding-wise.”
At the end of the meet’s final day, despite the fierce battle for second place, little changed besides the distance between the respective teams. The Tigers’ lead swelled to its final margin—166.5 points—while 10 additional top-eight finishes for Harvard solidified its second-place result.
Senior Anna Fraser led the Harvard scoring push. Fraser accumulated 43 total points, turning in her two best performances in the butterfly events.
In the 200-yard race, Fraser and freshman Jane Evans combined for a one-two finish that gave the Crimson 37 critical points to extend the team’s lead over Brown as the meet entered its final stretch.
Fraser improved upon her preliminary heat time by nearly two seconds, touching the wall in 2:02.37. Evans was right behind at 2:02.59.
In the 100-yard butterfly, Fraser placed third overall in 55.61 seconds and first among three Harvard swimmers finishing in the top eight. Junior Kate Nadeau took fifth in 57.00 seconds, while sophomore Alli Bates rounded out the trio in 57.24 seconds.
The Crimson placed well in the backstroke as well, with training partners freshman Michelle Bright and Stapleton each placing in the top-eight in both the 100- and 200-yard events.
The tandem turned in its best result in the 200-yard contest, in which Bright and Stapleton touched the wall at the same moment, each finishing in 2:00.51, more than two seconds ahead of the third-place finisher.
“To win my first Ivy Championship title was awesome enough,” Bright said. “But to tie with a teammate made it more special. I’m so happy I can’t explain my feelings right now.”