Top finishes across the board propelled the Crimson (4-0, 4-0 EISL) past the Lions (0-1, 0-1) and to its fourth consecutive convincing victory over an Ivy League opponent.
In a meet commencing a weekend celebration of 75 years of swimming and diving at Harvard, the team set out not only to keep up appearances but also to confirm its readiness for the season.
“We wanted to send a message to the rest of the teams that it’s going to be really tough to beat us this year,” captain John Cole said. “The rest of these teams might check out some of these times...They just better be ready to race, because we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Harvard benefited from important contributions from its youngest swimmers and divers.
Freshman Geoff Rathgeber won three events, swimming the 100-yard backstroke in 50.01 seconds, the 100-yard freestyle in 45.75 and the 200-yard IM in 1:50.65.
“I looked at the clock after the backstroke and didn’t realize I’d popped a time like that. I guess the time just carried over to the other races,” Rathgeber said.
Rathgeber also swam for the Crimson’s meet-winning 200-yard medley relay A-team with junior David Cromwell and seniors James Lawler and Ryan Krna.
“[Rathgeber] likes to race, and he doesn’t like to lose,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said.
Freshman Lucas Sanders dominated the diving board, winning the one-meter. He posted an even more decisive victory from three meters, winning with 305.40 points. Second-place finisher Justin Reardon of Columbia posted 268.05 points in the meet.
Junior Danil Rybalko finished close behind Sanders in the one-meter dive, taking second with 306.75 points. He also took third in the three-meter with 263.25 points.
“They’re going to play an important role for us this year,” Murphy said.
Led by Cole, Harvard swept the top three spots of the 1000-yard freestyle. Cole built a wide lead, winning in 9:04.89, while freshman Sam Wollner took second in 9:26.22 and junior John Hastrup took third with 9:42.12. Wollner finished second in the 500-yard freestyle, less than a second behind Columbia sophomore Tobin White.
Cromwell trailed Rathgeber by 0.39 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke. He won the 200-yard backstroke, in which senior Cameron Moccari took second. Sophomore Joc Christiana won the 200-yard breaststroke and took second in the 100-yard breaststroke, 0.36 seconds behind Columbia sophomore Michael Nelson.
The Crimson swept the top four spots in the 200-yard butterfly. Moccari won in 1:52.97, followed by Lawler, sophomore Jason Degnan-Rojeski and junior Stephen Norberg. Moccari also finished third in the 200-meter IM. Lawler and senior Ryan Smith finished within a quarter second of each other to place first and second for the Crimson in the 100-yard butterfly.
Harvard swept the 100-yard freestyle. After Rathgeber, Krna took second, junior Mark Knepley took third and freshman Patt Quinn finished fourth.
Krna won the 50-yard freestyle in 20.9 seconds as junior Brian Zingale took third.
Krna, junior Mark Knepley, Cromwell and Cole swam the 800-meter freestyle relay as Harvard’s A-team, finishing more than eight seconds ahead of their Lion counterparts for the win to wrap up the meet.
“We definitely did a lot better than last week, and that’s a good start to the season,” Cole said.
The win comes follows a three-game road trip in which the Crimson defeated Dartmouth 223-76, Cornell 195-104 and Brown 197-96.