The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team concluded an impressive performance this weekend by capturing its 10th Ivy League title at Blodgett Pool, the third under Crimson coach Stephanie Wriede Morawski and the first at Blodgett Pool since Morawski was a senior herself in 1992.
After finishing as the runner-up to Princeton two years in a row, Harvard turned the tables this weekend and won with 1,478.5 points—168 points more than second-place Princeton.
But the meet didn’t start as the team had hoped when the Crimson got off to a shaky start on Thursday’s morning preliminary races.
“Things didn’t go as planned [on Thursday morning],” freshman swimmer Courtney Otto said. “We had people make the constellation heat when we thought they would make the finals heat. Then we had a team meeting and just talked about how we have to shake off the cobwebs and come back fighting. We just rallied behind each other every session and team meeting every day, and that kept us going.”
One of the weekend’s defining moments occurred when freshman Kelsey Hojan-Clark finished first in both the 1,000 and 1,650 free, making her the Ivy League’s fourth swimmer to ever win both events in the same year. But according to Hojan-Clark, the individual accomplishment meant nothing outside of helping her team capture the title.
“To be honest, I swim only for my team,” Hojan-Clark said. “Swimming for myself never really factored in. The fact that we won hasn’t hit me yet, and I haven’t come to realize that we’re actually champions yet. It was a great weekend, but individually the achievements didn’t really factor in.”
Senior diver Leslie Rea made the diving record books by becoming the Ivy League’s all-time leading point getter—a title she earned after finishing second in the three-meter dive and third in the one-meter dive.
The Crimson finished day one without an individual win but still held a three-point lead in first place.
“It just showed how strong and determined our team could be,” Otto said. “The fact that we held strong even though we didn’t come up with a win in the first day was great. We knew that we had kept the ball rolling, and that kept our spirits high that we could keep it up.”
Harvard’s first championship finish came on Friday with Hojan-Clark’s 9:48.95 time in the 1,000 free, good for the sixth best time in meet history and more than four seconds better than Columbia’s second-place finisher.
Despite the victory, the Crimson still found itself trailing Princeton. That all changed with the 400 IM, in which Harvard claimed first, second, fifth, and sixth. Otto won the event with the sixth-best time in meet history (4:10.22) and her classmate Faith Martin took second with 4:20.66.
After claiming the lead, the Crimson never looked back as at least one individual finished in the top five of each remaining event for the night. Harvard then capped off an impressive Friday with a dominant 800-free relay time of 7:15.92. The 800-free relay team of senior Catherine Zagroba, sophomore Sara Li, Otto, and Martin finished nearly four seconds faster than the second-place Bulldogs and increased the Crimson’s lead to 92 going into the final day of the meet.
Saturday opened in familiar fashion, as Hojan-Clark again opened the day with a win, this time in the 1,650 free with a time of 16:29.90. The win was followed by Leddy’s own first-place finish in the 200 back, posting the eighth fastest time in meet history with 1:57.26. Leddy, who also won the 200 back in 2009 and 2011, became the fourth Ivy Leaguer ever to win the event three times. Junior Laura Evans and sophomore Deirdre Clute rounded out the event with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively, and gave Harvard a 94-point lead.
The Crimson continued to have success, again placing four in the top six—this time in the 200 fly. Otto and Schulkin took second and third, respectively, followed by senior Hilary Roberts in fourth and freshman Ana Anaya in sixth. The event gave the Crimson, which tallied five first-place wins in total, a 173-point lead.
“It was pretty incredible,” Otto said about the win. “We were talking about [winning the Ivy] all year. At the beginning of the year, our coach said something about how last year the team didn’t want it enough. So we kind of used that as a fire throughout the whole year.”