W. Swimming Captures Second at Ivies
After the Crimson captured the 1996 Ivy League championship, the squad had been relegated to third or fourth place behind foes Princeton and Brown in the following seasons.
But a repeat performance wasn’t going to satisfy anyone this time around.
Harvard knew throughout the season that elevating itself above the tandem of traditional powerhouses would not be easy, but that it was certainly an attainable goal.
“We definitely have a real shot [at displacing either Princeton or Brown] this year,” sophomore Molly Brethauer said at the season’s start. “It’s not going to be easy, but we have a shot.”
The Crimson took aim early on, setting its sights on the Bears at the end of the first week of competition.
In a sign of things to come, Harvard rolled over Brown, winning 170-130 in a performance showcasing the Crimson’s depth in all strokes. Despite winning fewer than half of the events held and none of the relays contested, Harvard still accumulated enough points to win easily, amassing a lead based on runner-up and third-place finishes.
“Depth is our best asset,” co-captain Jane Humphries said. “It came down to the best team, not the team with the best individual swimmers.”
Freshman Jane Evans stepped into the spotlight, capturing first place in three events—an occurrence that would become standard fare for her as the season progressed.
Competing in breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley events, Evans shined in her first year and came to be heavily relied upon to provide points.
“It’s really good that I have a lot of races,” Evans said. “Depending on how my teammates do, I can fill in as needed.”
The drive to crack the top two hit a snag mid-season as an unexpected challenge emerged from the Ancient Eight cellar—Penn.
Traditionally a force easily reckoned with, the Quakers were gunning for Harvard all season long, setting their calendar around a match up with the Crimson.
“Penn rested for us,” junior Kate Nadeau said. “They tapered and shaved. [Their victory] is not an indication of how the Ivy League Championships will finish out.”
Although her prediction proved correct, the victory temporarily demoralized the Harvard swimmers, who touched the wall first in only two events against the sprightly Quakers.
Capping off its regular season, the Crimson faced off against the Tigers, long the dominant power in Ivy women’s swimming.
Although Harvard had certainly made progress since the previous season’s Ivy Championship, it was still no match for Princeton at the H-Y-P meet.
Despite a strong two-victory effort from Evans and virtual dominance on the boards behind junior Rene Paradise and sophomore Anne Osmun—who took first and second on the three-meter board, as well as second and third on the one-meter—the Crimson’s individual accomplishments paled in comparison to the awesome power of the Tigers’ machine.
Headed into the event riding a 38-event dual meet winning streak, Princeton simply would not be denied.
The Tigers won 10 of the 15 non-diving events held, including seven-of-nine on the first day, distancing themselves from the other two schools and undermining resolve for a comeback drive.
The first day of Ivy Championships competition appeared to be more of the same, if not worse, as Harvard plummeted to fourth place in the overall standings far behind Princeton and Brown, but right behind Yale.
Still, the team did not lose heart, knowing that a better day lay ahead on the second day of competition. On the first day, only 12 of the Crimson’s swimmers partook while other schools fielded full 15-woman efforts.
Not only would Harvard’s full roster be out in force on the second and third days, but its best events of the season would be held as well.
“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.”
Stapleton ensured that the Crimson arsenal would perform well in the backstroke, combining with freshman Michelle Bright to produce a most unusual result—a tie.
The tandem touched the wall simultaneously in the 200-yard backstroke event, each blazing to a first-place finish.
In the 200-yard butterfly, senior Anna Fraser and Evans turned in a one-two finish that would further enhance Harvard’s standing.
But in the end, it was not the work of any single individual that guaranteed the high finish.
Thirteen top-eight finishes propelled the Crimson to a 32.5-point victory over the Bears.
“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.”
Although all schools will lose seniors to graduation, the Tigers may be hit hardest, losing multiple seniors from their highly-ranked relay squads.
Whether that will be enough for Harvard to destroy the ceiling entirely, however, only time will tell.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING
RESULTS 7-3 (5-2 Ivy), 2nd at Ivy Championships
COACH Stephanie Morawski
CAPTAINS Jane Humphries and Rachael O’Beirne
HIGHLIGHTS Harvard breaks through by defeating Brown both in dual competition and at the Ivy Championship. Four Crimson swimmers are first team All-Ivy selections, with two more tapped for the second team.