“Keep calm and fight on.”
The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team lived by this motto the entire season, and it paid off. For the first time in seven years, the Crimson earned both the dual meet title and the Ivy League Championship title.
“I think that everything sort of came through for us at the end,” captain-elect Brittany Powell says. “Everyone put in a lot of hard work throughout the whole year, and it obviously culminated with our championship win.”
The women knew success was possible when they took down Princeton, their biggest competition for the titles, at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet. The Crimson and the Tigers were both undefeated coming into the final dual meet of the season.
Harvard showed Princeton that it was a force to be reckoned with from the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Juniors Caroline Weaver and Mackenzie Luick and freshmen Ana Anaya and Sarah Sumner finished first, breaking a school record and beating the Tigers with a time of 1:42.39.
“We were just super pumped up that [the relay] went so well,” captain-elect Sara Li says. “I think the energy on the pool deck was just contagious and...it just fired everyone up. We never looked back from the first event on.”
From there the Crimson dominated the meet, placing first in 10 of the 16 events. In the end, Harvard beat the Tigers, 190-110, and Yale, 235-65, to steal the title.
“There have been years in the past where we have won the Ivy Championships, but haven’t been able to clinch the dual meet title,” senior Meghan Leddy said. “By winning [HYP] this year, we went undefeated for the first time in a while and it was a really exciting meet from the very beginning. I think everyone was really pumped for it.”
In addition to its undefeated dual title win were victories over Dartmouth, 187.5-110.5, Cornell, 218-80, Columbia, 157-143, Penn, 249-49, and Brown, 193-107.
The Crimson also competed at the Georgia Invitational, the MIT Invitational, and the Texas Invitational with overall finishes of sixth, seventh, and 12th, respectively.
“We set really high goals for ourselves in the beginning of the year, stuck to them, made sure we held each other accountable as teammates, and kind of kept the goal in mind while working hard the whole season,” Li says.
During J-Term, Harvard sent its swimmers to Puerto Rico and its divers to Hawaii for training. The meets were not scored, but they prepared the women for the rest of the season.
The Crimson hosted its second important meet of the season—the Ivy League Championships—and came ready to defend its home turf. After a rough start at the prelims on the first morning, Harvard rallied to finish first with 1,478.5 points, taking down Princeton, the defending Ivy League champions for two straight years, by 168 points.
“It really took a lot to focus on what we were doing and not get ahead of ourselves for the whole meet,” Leddy says. “But I think we swam really strong.”
Senior diver Leslie Rea made Ivy League history that day by becoming the league’s all-time leading point scorer upon the completion of her one-meter and three-meter dives, in which she earned third and second place finishes respectively.