Fueled by a strong core of underclassmen swimmers, the Crimson swimming and diving team placed second in the Ivy League for the fourth year in a row while eight members of the team earned All-American honors and five swimmers and three divers qualified for the NCAA Championships.
The five swimmers—all of whom were freshmen or sophomores—were the Crimson’s first NCAA competitors since All-American and United States Olympian Alex Meyer ’10 represented Harvard in 2010.
“There were a few days of nervous waiting, but we were beyond ecstatic when we found out [we qualified for NCAAs],” freshman Griffin Schumacher says. “It was an incredible experience to swim with the fastest in the country, and we got a taste of what we’re going to be experiencing the next few years.”
Harvard saw a great deal of success from its underclassmen swimmers in the 2012 season with all of its All-American honors awarded to freshmen or sophomores on the team.
Over the NCAA Championship weekend, Harvard’s relay squads gave the Crimson its best finishes. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, the team of freshmen Chuck Katis, Schumacher, and Zach Walters and sophomore Chris Satterthwaite swam to a 13th-place finish, touching the wall at 6:27.94.
“We actually weren’t sure if we were going to swim or not, because we had a different team than the one that raced at Ivies,” Schumacher says. “But Coach Murphy decided to throw us in there and see what we could do…. We were really excited to race well and get that All-America status.”
Its 400 free relay team—formed by Katis, Schumacher, Satterthwaite, and sophomore Oliver Lee—also broke into the top 20, placing 16th with a season’s best time of 2:55.18.
The relay finishes were two of the Crimson’s seven total top-25 finishes at the national level this year.
Within the Ancient Eight though, the men’s swimming and diving finishes have been stagnant over the last several years, with Princeton claiming the title and Harvard trailing in second for four consecutive years, while Yale took third for the third straight year. But the Crimson program continued to build in strength, breaking several school, pool, and meet records this season.
In the Ivy Championship meet alone, Harvard shattered six school records and logged a season-best 22 NCAA ‘B’ standard times. Satterthwaite shined in the meet, earning three individual Ivy League titles in the 50 free, 100 free and 200 free; setting school records in the 50 free (19.84 seconds) and the 100 free (43.18 seconds); and meriting a share of the Phil Moriarity Award—an honor given to the meet’s top point earner.
“It was really, really impressive,” sophomore Spenser Goodman says of Satterthwaite’s performance. “I think he won the three events that are the hardest to win.... Those races come down to tenths or hundredths of a second. He’s just an amazing swimmer, and everyone’s really excited for him and excited to see what he can do in the next two years.”
Harvard divers also saw success in the Ivies. Freshman Mike Mosca continued the Crimson’s tradition of dominance in the one-meter dive, earning the title with a mark of 359.55 points. Mosca’s first-place Ivy finish in the one-meter represented Harvard’s seventh title in the event in the last 11 years.
Despite Harvard’s individual successes, the No. 24 Tigers continued to exact their authority in the Ivy League. As Harvard’s only conference loss on the season, Princeton represented the Crimson’s biggest rival, and the teams entered the championships prepared to duke it out. Harvard held a promising 27-point lead after the first day of races and dives, but day two of the competition ended with Princeton besting the Crimson with a meet-best 1,523.5 points.
“Overall everyone swam really well [at Ivy Championships],” Schumacher says. “It was tough losing to Princeton. Everything went pretty much how we wanted it to, so it was an especially tough loss. But we’re excited to come back next year with more training and some good recruits.”
The Crimson started the season off at a torrid pace, adding four tallies to the win column in as many meets against its conference competitors. In each meet, Harvard won by more than 60 points.