After two days of competition at the Georgia Invitational, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team was in fifth place. It held its ground on the third and final day of competition, finishing in fifth place for the meet.
The Crimson finished with a score of 298 points, 138 points ahead of last-place Georgia Tech. No. 8 Georgia captured the meet with a total of 1,073 points.
“It was a really awesome meet and so fun to go down there,” junior Lindsay Hart said. “We were racing some of the top teams in the nation and they were going for some top times this meet. We just wanted to race some really great people outside of the Ivy League.”
Harvard unveiled a new star in freshman Alexandra Clarke, who was able to set school records in both the 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle events at the beginning of day three. She was also only two seconds shy of receiving an NCAA “A” bid in the 1650 event, but walked away with a “B” cut instead.
“It was not unexpected as she is a talented swimmer and whenever she gets in the water with such fast people it just brought out the best,” senior co-captain Kyle Cutter said. “It really inspired in the rest of the team.”
Clarke was also part of the relay team that helped finish out the meet for Harvard in 400-yard freestyle relay event. The team, composed of Clarke, Hart, freshman Sophie Morgan, and senior Emily Wilson, was able to take 11th place.
“[Clarke has] been working so hard,” Hart said. “She definitely deserves it. When you work hard, the results definitely come and she is a very fast freshman.”
Both Hart and Wilson posted top Crimson finishes on day three as well. Hart finished in ninth place in the 200-yard backstroke by winning the B-final for the event.
Directly after Hart’s swim it was Wilson’s time to shine. She was the top Harvard finisher in the 100-yard freestyle, taking home 17th place.
Next came the 200-yard breaststroke, which witnessed the only back-to-back Crimson finish of day three. Junior Jaclyn Pangilinan led the way in ninth place, followed by senior LeeAnn Chang right behind, capturing a one-two finish in the B-final.
Pangilinan missed the cut for the A-final in the preliminaries by only .04 seconds, but her time of 2:18.94 in the B-final would have given her a seventh-place finish in that event.
“It was a big challenge facing up against top 10 teams in the country,” Cutter said. “Just having the opportunity to race such talented swimmers, who will probably be winning NCAAs, was a great opportunity.”
The only other A-final finish on day three came from senior and co-captain Noelle Bassi. Bassi was seeded third in the event with a qualifying time of 2:01.23, but after a swim of 2:03.43, ended up in seventh place.
Harvard now has a month-long break until its next meet on Jan. 5, against Rutgers.
“I think that people are excited and know there is a lot of hard work to be done,” Cutter said. “We have been jumping from week to week and haven’t been able to get in many hard quality practices.”
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.