Co-captain Alex Meyer was second in the 500-yard freestyle this weekend, finishing just behind classmate Mason Brunnick. Junior Blake Lewkowitz and sophomore Matt McLean made it a Crimson sweep.
The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team had a disappointing finish to its regular season this past weekend, failing to keep its perfect record intact at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet.
At the HYP meet, the Crimson’s most important regular season contest, Harvard fell to perennial swim powerhouse and Ivy League rival Princeton, 203-150. The Crimson was able to pull out a definitive win over Yale, 242-106, moving its record to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in conference action.
“We had some really strong swims and there were a lot of in-season best times in this meet,” said senior distance standout Mason Brunnick. “We had a lot of depth, but we weren’t winning certain events we needed to be winning to [beat Princeton].”
Harvard’s distance lane racked up significant points for the Crimson, dominating in the 500-yard and 1650-yard freestyle events. Brunnick led the charge in the 500, where Harvard claimed the top four finishes.
Brunnick captured the gold with a time of 4:26.82, followed by co-captain Alex Meyer at 4:29.06. Junior Blake Lewkowitz and sophomore Matt McLean brought home third and fourth for the Crimson, respectively.
Harvard also recorded a 1-2-3 finish in the 1650-yard freestyle. This time Meyer was at the front of the pack, touching the wall in 15:13.80 and lapping Princeton’s strongest mile swimmer in the event.
Lewkowitz claimed second with a 15:33.66 race, a hundredth of a second faster than Brunnick, who placed third with a time of 15:33.67.
“The distance lane has become a Harvard tradition. We have one of the top distance lanes in the country year in and year out,” co-captain Tommy Gray said. “Alex [Meyer] and Mason [Brunnick] have really gotten the job done all year.”
In addition to its distance stars, the Crimson drew on a collective effort from the relay teams to bolster its score. Junior Jordan Diekema, rookie Owen Wurzbacher, sophomore Nicholas Tan, and junior Eric Taylor sprinted to a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay—the first event of the meet—while Brunnick, McClean, and freshmen classmates Brendan McIntee and Greg Pelton posted a 3:04.38 to take third in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
The diving duo of freshman Michael Stanton and junior Zac Ranta also had a strong showing this past weekend. Stanton placed first in the 3-meter dive with 339.55 points, while Ranta brought home second with a 332.00. Harvard fell to Princeton and Yale in the 1-meter event, though, as Stanton just managed to capture third.
The Crimson picked up a few more place finishes, but was ultimately thwarted by the Tigers, who had a sizeable advantage in the sprinting and relay events.
Brunnick upset Princeton’s Jon Hartmann to place in his fourth event of the day, claiming the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:39.29. But even with Brunnick’s win, the Tigers captured the next six places in the event.
“Mason Brunnick winning the 200 freestyle was huge,” Gray said. “He came up and beat [Princeton] in an event that they were definitely supposed to win.”
Meanwhile Diekema, who has been battling injuries and sickness all year, returned for his first meet of the season and added a win in the 100-yard backstroke, touching the wall in 49.65.
Sophomore Niall Janney picked up the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 3:56.47 to wrap up the Crimson’s first place finishes.
Harvard will have one chance for retribution, as it faces Princeton again in the Ivy League Championships, held in the Tigers’ home pool in early March.
“We know that we have enough depth to beat them, we just need to be on our game when it comes down to it,” Brunnick said. “This definitely puts us in a position where we can’t be complacent about how we swam this weekend—we had some good swims, but we need to get better.”
—Staff writer Alexandra J. Mihalek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.