In both of this weekend’s backstroke races against the Lions of Columbia, junior Lindsay Hart dominated the competition.
The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team found the perfect baby shower gift for Crimson coach Stephanie Morawski in a commanding 193-102 win over Columbia on Friday night at Blodgett pool. Morawski returned to the pool deck for the first time since giving birth to a baby in early November to coach her team to its fifth win of the season and remarkable 25th straight dual-meet win.
“They did a great job,” Morawski said. “They are very spirited and it came out in their racing.”
Though the Crimson defeated Columbia by a sound 159-84 margin last season in New York City, the Lions have swum well so far this season and were not to be dealt with lightly.
“Columbia is a great team that just came off of a hard meet against Yale,” Morawski said. “We just got in there and raced well against their top people in their top events.”
The Crimson took first in all 16 events but only 14 counted towards its score, as the team swum the 200 IM and 200 freestyle relay as exhibitions.
Juniors Lindsay Hart and Amanda Slaight and freshman Alexandra Clarke dominated in their specialty strokes, with Hart winning both backstroke events, Slaight taking first in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and Clarke capturing the 200 and 500 free. Senior captain Noelle Bassi and juniors Meaghan Colling, Bridget O’Connor, and Samantha Papadakis also added two first-place finishes each to the resounding victory.
The meet started without a hitch for the Crimson, as Hart, Colling, O’Connor, and Bassi teamed up to win the 200-yard medley relay in 1:47.27, with Harvard’s ‘B’ team just behind in the runner-up spot.
It was Harvard’s freshman swimmers at the top of the field in some of the most dominant performances of the night. In the 400 IM, first-year Sophie Morgan got an early lead for the Crimson that was taken over by classmate Kay Foley on the backstroke lap. Foley would go on to win the event in 4:28.70 with teammates senior Laurin Weisenthal, sophomore Linnea Sundberg, and Morgan grabbing the next three spots.
Next up for the Class of 2010 was Clarke, who won the 200 free in 1:52.10, with senior Emily Wilson touching the wall close behind in 1:53.18. Clarke and Wilson would later go on to lead the Crimson’s second big sweep of the night, as Harvard swimmers captured the top four places in the 500 free. Clarke finished first in 4:57.98, Wilson second in 5:01.79, and Weisenthal and freshman Katie Faulkner in third and fourth, respectively.
The members of the winning relay team also showed their prowess on the individual level, as Hart won the 100 back in 57.77 and the 200 in 2:03.83. Colling followed with a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.75 and Bassi took the 200 fly in 2:04.45. O’Connor rounded out the performance a few events later by winning the 100 fly in 58.42.
On the dive side of the meet, Papadakis turned in a dominant performance against a talented Columbia squad. Papadakis executed a nice set of six dives to take the 1-meter competition with 273.45 points, 44 points more than Columbia’s second-place finisher. In the 3-meter dive, 25 points set Papadakis apart from the rest of the field, as she amassed a total of 272.40. Freshman Caitlin High took fourth in the 1-meter dive and fifth in the 3-meter for Harvard.
The Crimson will return to the pool to prepare for a series of big meets in the coming months. Next up is the Georgia Invitational on Dec. 1-3, which will give the team a chance to compete against the nation’s top programs.
“We’ve been working hard in the pool and taking care of the little steps along the way to perfect our race plan,” captain Kyle Cutter said. “Everyone is maintaining a positive attitude during hard workouts, since we are looking to perform really well at the Invitational.”