After a training trip in Puerto Rico, a win against Ivy League rival Brown, and a week of practice, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team travelled to Evanston, Ill., to take on two Big Ten teams, Northwestern and Iowa. And after starting the season 5-0, the Crimson (5-2, 5-0 Ivy) had its winning streak snapped, falling to Iowa by seven points, 153-146, and to Northwestern, 172-127.
“It was really great that we got to go up against two Big Ten teams,” senior Meghan Leddy said. “We’ve never swam Northwestern or Iowa before, so it was fun to go to the Midwest and compete against teams outside of the Ivy League.”
The meet was dominated by the Wildcats, who defended their home pool, claiming victory over both teams while taking nine of the 16 first-place finishes. The Hawkeyes followed with five victories.
The Crimson claimed one first-place finish—Leddy in the 200 backstroke—seven second-place finishes, and placed three women in the top six in both backstroke and butterfly events in addition to the 200 IM.
“It was supposed to be a Northwestern-Iowa dual meet and we kind of crashed the party,” Leddy said. “It was nice to put up some great times to show them that a school that isn’t a scholarship school is able to break them up.”
Leddy and junior Caroline Weaver highlighted the backstroke events. Weaver finished right after Leddy in the 200 backstroke at 2:03.95 for a one-two finish for the Crimson in the event. Junior Laura Evans contributed a fourth-place finish at 2:05.14.
“We’re definitely right on par with them, so we were very evenly matched,” sophomore Danielle Schulkin said. “There were races where we had swimmers go one-two, there were races where they’d go one-two, and there were races that [the finishes] were hundredths [of seconds] apart.”
In the 100 backstroke, Weaver, Leddy and sophomore Deirdre Clute, took third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. Weaver clocked in at 57.57, .3 seconds out of second place, and was followed closely by her teammates at 58.29 and 58.39.
In the butterfly events, freshman Ana Anaya and Schulkin each took second place in the 100 and 200, respectively. In the 100, Anaya finished in 56.58, .36 seconds out of first place. Schulkin stopped the clock shortly after with a time of 56.79 for a fourth-place finish, behind Iowa sophomore Abbey Tuchscherer by .07 seconds. Sophomore Jenna Gregoire finished in fifth with a time of 56.96.
“It was really fun because we didn’t necessarily have the pressure of a league meet, but we still really wanted to win,” Schulkin said. “We still had a lot of competition where you didn’t necessarily know who was going to win or not.”
The Crimson finished second, third, and fifth in the 200 butterfly with a second-place time of 2:01.87 by Schulkin. Anaya finished next at 2:03.17, and senior Hilary Roberts followed, clocking in at 2:04.51.
Harvard earned another second-place finish in the 200 IM from freshman Courtney Otto, who stopped the clock at 2:04.99, just .01 seconds behind first-place finisher, Northwestern senior Jacquie Godbe. Otto also placed third in the 100 freestyle with a time of 10:09.82 and fourth in the 200 breaststroke at 2:21.22.
“I think everyone did really well for where we are in the season,” Leddy said. “Everyone was hitting their season times, so I think that was pretty solid across the board. And girls from the first heat were posting up times that were holding in the second heat.”
The Crimson took fourth and fifth in the 200 IM as well with strong performances from Evans and freshman Faith Martin, who finished the race in 2:05.87. Evans followed at 2:06.60, touching out Hawkeye sophomore Haley Gordon by .18 seconds.
“We just wanted to come out fighting, kind of scare the Big Ten teams, and show them how we represent the Ivy League,” Leddy said.
Other second place finishes for the afternoon came during the 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, and the 500 freestyle. In the 200 freestyle, senior Catherine Zagroba finished in 1:50.77, pushing Wildcat sophomore Jackie Powell into third by .11 seconds. Freshman Stephanie Ferrell stopped the clock in the 100 breaststroke at 1:04.79, and Zagroba scored another second-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:54.40.
“[This meet] was really good because we’re gearing up for a lot of fast meets,” Schulkin said. “We have [Yale and Princeton] in two weeks, and then we have [the Ivy League Championships] three weeks after that. There will be a lot of close races, and we haven’t had that many this year.”
—Staff writer Chelsea Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.