Entering Friday’s matchup with Columbia, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team had never lost a meet against the Lions since the two schools first faced off in 1985.
This time was no different. The Crimson topped the Lions 187-113, taking first place in 12 of the 16 events.
Not only did Harvard have a strong meet against Columbia, but two school records were broken.
Freshman Kendall Crawford set the record at 54.99 for the 100 backstroke, and classmate Danielle Lee became the first woman at Harvard to swim the 50 backstroke in fewer than 26 seconds, finishing in 25.92.
“We are speedy right now, especially considering our point in the season,” junior co-captain Sara Li said. “We have had tremendous success each day at practice, so we know we’re this good, but it’s awesome to actually see it happen in a meet setting.”
Harvard started the meet out strongly, beating out Columbia by .42 seconds in the 200 medley relay. The relay team of Crawford, senior Mackenzie Luick, sophomore Ana Anaya, and Li finished the race in 1:42.52.
“I think going into this meet, everyone was really pumped,” Crawford said. “Last year, Columbia gave us a good run for our money, and going into this meet everyone was really excited. When we came out on our first relay with a win, I think it just carried the momentum through the rest of the meet.”
The Crimson racked up three consecutive one-two finishes in the 1000 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, and the 100 backstroke. Freshmen Sherry Liu and Marlee Ehrlich dominated the 1000, and Lee and sophomore Courtney Otto touched the wall .39 seconds apart to take the 200 free. In addition to Crawford’s school record in the 100 backstroke, senior Caroline Weaver also posted a solid time of 56.59 to take second place points.
The Lions broke up Harvard’s streak with a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, but Luick, sophomore Stephanie Ferrell, and co-captain Clare Foster were right behind to take second, third and fourth, with times of 1:03.99, 1:05.27, and 1:05.85, respectively.
The Crimson went on another streak, taking first in the 200 butterfly, the 50 freestyle, and the 3-meter dive. Anaya led the butterfly, finishing in 2:00.57, just ahead of freshman Connie Hsu, who touched the wall at 2:02.08, to earn Harvard another one-two finish. Li stopped the clock in 23.21 in the 50 freestyle, a full 1.09 seconds before second place to put Harvard up another nine points.
“I’m really proud with how our team handled [the meet] mentally,” Li said. “We knew Columbia was going to be ready for us. Instead of succumbing to our nervous instincts, we just rocked it from start to finish. I think confidence was a really big thing going into it.”
Junior Alex Stanton and sophomore Amanda Largent claimed the one-two finish in the 3-meter dive for the Crimson, finishing the event with scores of 274.50 and 273.46, respectively, nearly 15 points better than the third-place finisher from Columbia.
Harvard took the top three spots in the 200 backstroke and the 200 breaststroke followed by a one-two finish in the 500 freestyle, earning the Crimson 45 points for the three events. Lee, Crawford, and Weaver finished within 2.5 seconds of one another in the 200 backstroke, stopping the clock in 1:59.35, 2:00.78, and 2:01.78, respectively.
“I think the 200 back was pretty good,” Crawford said. “There’s some great competition with three other girls on the team—there are so many fast backstrokers.”
Luick, Foster, and Ferrell topped the Lions in the 200 backstroke with a four-second gap between third and fourth place.
In the 500 freestyle, Liu and Margaret Ramsey led the Crimson to victory. Liu finished the event strongly with a time of 4:54.24, followed closely by Ramsey at 4:45.83. Although the Lions took first in the next three events, the 100 butterfly, the 1-meter dive, and the 200 IM, Harvard finished the meet as it had started it—with a win. The team of sophomore Sarah Sumner, junior Deirdre Clute, Lee, and Li finished a full four seconds ahead of the Lions in 3:26.41.
“The most important result of this meet was how well this team worked together,” Li said. “Everyone found support within each other and our teammates, who kept each other moving forward and kept the positive energy up the whole way. I think that goes to show the support we have for each other and the confidence that we have will continue more through the season.”
—Staff writer Chelsea Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com