Seniors Bid Farewell to Blodgett in Easy Win

Papadakis sets school, pool record in three-meter dive

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Vilsa E. Curto

The class that relays together stays together.

Or so it appeared Friday evening, when the Class of 2007 led the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team (6-1, 5-0 Ivy) to a 161-74 trouncing of the University of New Hampshire (4-5) in the final home meet of the season. The seniors turned in impressive individual performances throughout the meet but saved their best for the last event, an exhibition 200-yard freestyle relay. Eight Crimson seniors, instead of the usual four, each swam a 25-yard leg of the relay to help the squad to a light-hearted victory in the event and cap four years of competition together at Blodgett Pool.

“Today was about having fun, paying tribute to the seniors and going out with a bang,” junior diver Samantha Papadakis said.

The seniors were not the only ones making a splash. Papadakis made school and Blodgett pool history with a record performance of 356.48 points in the three-meter competition. Jenny Greene had set the previous record of 343.75 points back in 1988. Papadakis almost made it a sweep of the record books, as she just missed Greene’s mark of 324.15 points in the one-meter competition, notching 321.45 points to take first in the event.

“We’ve been working really hard this season but I think for the first time I dove really consistently,” Papadakis said. “That’s what really pays off when it comes to breaking records.”

Senior Annika Giesbrecht helped the Crimson diving effort with a second-place finish in the three-meter event while junior Kelcey Moore took third in the one-meter dive.

The swim portion of the meet saw all 10 Crimson senior swimmers compete, including Emily Wilson, who fractured a bone in her hand just before the meet against Rutgers on Jan. 5. Harvard won nine events and swam the remaining three as exhibitions.

Senior LeeAnn Chang got the ball rolling for the Crimson, teaming with juniors Lindsay Hart and Jaclyn Pangilinan, and freshman Alexandra Clarke to take the 400-yard medley relay in 3:54.39.

Classmate Laurin Weisenthal led a Crimson sweep of the 1650-yard freestyle, winning in 17:25.76, with freshman Katie Faulkner and senior Kelly Blondin right behind her.

Co-captain Noelle Bassi also notched an individual victory for the senior class, outkicking Clarke in the final two laps of the 200 fly to win in 2:03.80. Clarke touched the wall in 2:05.13, while Chang finished third.

Junior Lindsay Hart added two more first-place finishes to her opening win in the relay, taking the 200 individual medley in 2:09.25 and the 200 backstroke in 2:04.89. Freshman Kay Foley and senior Jessica Davidson made it a Crimson sweep of the 200 IM while senior Kara O’Reilly finished second to Hart in the 200 backstroke.

Junior Meaghan Colling led from the gun to win the 200 free in 1:55.67. Classmate Amanda Slaight claimed the 100 free in 54.13 while freshman Sophie Morgan grabbed second, sophomore Christi Morrissey took fourth, and Wilson, waterproof cast and all, finished in fifth.

In the 50 free, Morgan sprinted to a victory and senior co-captain Kyle Cutter took third in the event. The 500 free brought more Crimson dominance, as freshman Kay Foley bested the field by nine seconds to win in 5:08.78 and Kelly Blondin followed in second place.

The meet concluded with an unconventional 200 freestyle relay won by the “stacked” senior team. The exhibition relay featured 8 of the 11 Crimson seniors who have competed together for four years.

“It’s amazing that all 11 of us have stuck with it this long,” O’Reilly said. “Swimming is a tough sport to stay with all four years. I think the fact that we have each other keeps us going.”

Harvard will look to carry its momentum to Princeton, N.J. for next weekend’s double-dual meet against Yale and the defending league champion Tigers. All three teams boast undefeated Ivy records.

“[Princeton] took our title from us last year, so we want it back,” O’Reilly said.

—Staff writer Rebecca A. Compton can be reached at