Sophomore Jordan Diekema led the way for No. 25 Harvard, winning two individual events along with two relay victories, as the Crimson doubled up Columbia 200-100 to remain undefeated on the young season.
Clapping in unison as they slowly walked into Blodgett Pool, the members of the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team entered with both the pride and pressure of being the only remaining undefeated team in the Ivy League. The question was whether the Crimson (3-0, 3-0 Ivy) would be able to retain that title.
No. 25 Harvard’s performance against Columbia (1-2, 1-2) signaled to fans and opponents alike that the team deserves the No. 1 position in the Ancient Eight. The Crimson won 13 out of 16 events and doubled Columbia’s points with a final score of 200-100.
“We were coming up from a tough meet against Cornell,” sophomore Jordan Diekema said. “I think that overall we were able to carry on with the strong momentum, but we were a bit more tired than we had thought.”
Harvard edged out Cornell last Saturday in a nail-biter, in which the Crimson eventually was able to overcome its competitors and claw its way to a 158-142 win.
“It was just a scrappy meet,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “The guys knew that whether they were getting first place or fifth place, every point was going to be important.”
On Saturday, though, even if Diekema might have been a bit exhausted from the meet with Cornell, his speed in the water did not show it. Diekema individually won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 51.20 and the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:51.70, and contributed to the Crimson wins in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:33.48 and the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:24.49. His overall performance of four wins in four events seemed to be close to flawless.
Even so, Diekema is the first to admit that there are a number of improvements that he will need to make in the coming weeks to push himself even faster.
“I definitely need to work on the amount of power that I am generating from the underwater kick. I also need to be more aggressive on the 200-yard backstroke,” Diekema said.
Another fantastic effort came from sophomore diver Zac Ranta, who succeeded in capturing both the 1-meter diving event with a score of 283.43 and the 3-meter diving event with a score of 311.40. The 3-meter diving event was a blowout, with Ranta’s final score totaling over 60 points higher than the runner-up.
“Zac Ranta is really stepping up in diving. He won both diving events and has been producing great results lately,” Diekema said.
Other notable results during the meet came from co-captain Eric Lynch, who won the 500-yard freestyle event with a time of 4:32.51, and co-captain David Guernsey, who won the 100-yard freestyle event with a time of 46.93. Senior Bill Jones added a win in the 200-yard butterfly event with a time of 1:52.59, and junior Alex Meyer won the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:23.91.
“Eric Lynch and Alex Meyer have been swimming really well lately,” Diekema said. “Lots of guys are stepping up and racing when they need to, and they are really helping the team win big.”
Following the win on Friday, Harvard’s next step is to step its performance up one more notch to prepare for the Georgia Invitational held from Dec. 5-7 against Clemson, Denver, West Virginia, and Georgia.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at the Georgia Invitational. It’s a fun meet, and a lot of great athletes go and race there,” Diekema said. “It will be challenging and I hope that we produce results.”