The Harvard women's swimming and diving team stopped in Miami, Fla. on Friday afternoon for a meet against the Hurricanes to conclude its winter break trip to Puerto Rico. The Crimson (4-0, 3-0 Ivy) topped Miami (1-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) 175-86, winning 11 of the 14 events.
"It was a fun meet because it was out of conference," junior captain Sara Li said. "University of Miami is pretty challenging and they have a pretty good reputation, so to beat them was awesome. Every meet we have is practice for what we want to do for championships."
Although the Hurricanes beat Harvard in the first race, the 200 medley relay, by less than a second, the Crimson did not let that set the tone for the meet.
"The first relay didn't go quite as well as we thought, but that was a good thing for us," Li said. "I think it was a good way to test our endurance and make sure everyone knows that no matter what the conditions, good or bad, we just have to learn to get up and race."
Harvard came back to finish first and second in the next three events, earning at least 13 points in each one. In the 400 IM, sophomore Faith Martin stopped the clock at 4:26.33, with freshman Connie Hsu close behind at 4:27.10. Sophomore Courtney Otto and freshman Sherry Liu claimed the 200m freestyle for the Crimson with times of 1:52.55 and 1:52.91, respectively. Liu also took first for Harvard in the 500m freestyle, finishing in 4:57.73.
Freshman Kendall Crawford placed first in the 100m backstroke, clocking in at 56.27 and remaining undefeated in the event in dual meets.
The Hurricanes came back in the 100m breaststroke to take first place, but the Crimson fought back to take the top three spots in the next three events, with solid performances by Otto in the 200m butterfly (2:00.41), and Li in the 50m and 100m freestyle (23.63 and 51.07, respectively).
"[Miami is] definitely a very strong team and they have a history of being a really strong team," Otto said. "I think that was a little intimidating for us at first, but I think we got past that a little bit because we have swum against a team of that caliber."
Junior Danielle Schulkin added to Harvard's stockpile of points with her third place finish in the 200m butterfly in 2:05.31. Senior Ellie Johnson also contributed three points in the 50m freestyle, out-touching Hannah Kling of Miami by .02 seconds with a final time of 24.32. In the 100m freestyle, Martin stopped the clock at 53.55 for her third place points, adding to the Crimson's increasing momentum.
"I thought our team spirit was incredible, and we won a lot of close races, which is something we really need to do if we want to beat [other Ivy schools]," Otto said.
Harvard finished the meet by taking first in all events except the 100 butterfly. Freshman Danielle Lee led the 200 backstroke, taking first in 1:59.87, just ahead of senior Caroline Weaver. Weaver clocked in at 2:01.98, nearly 3.5 seconds ahead of third place.
"I thought overall, we did extremely well," Otto said. "We've been coming off extremely hard training...times were not that impressive, but I think racing-wise we really came together as a team."
Sophomore Stephanie Ferrell had a strong finish as well in the 200 breaststroke (2:19.35), finishing almost five seconds ahead of senior Mackenzie Luick, who took second place for the Crimson at 2:24.69.
Harvard continued to pull away from the Hurricanes with a 1-2-3 finish in the 500 freestyle. Liu, freshman Marlee Ehrlich, and junior Deirdre Clute sped ahead to finish in 4:57.73, 5:03.36, and 5:15.45, respectively to push the Crimson ahead 16 more points.
The meet concluded with a close 200 IM race and a blow-away 400 freestyle relay. In the 200 IM, Crawford touched out Miami's Lucy Worrall by .03 seconds to score the Crimson nine points with her time of 2:06.48. Harvard relay teams of Li, Lee, Liu, Martin and Johnson, Clute, Martin, and freshman Margaret Ramsey took first and second in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:28.37 and 3:34.11, respectively to finish the meet strongly.
"I'm really proud of the team and how we're coming together," Otto said. "This whole winter break is really important in building team chemistry and I think that we're starting to come together and I'm excited to see what we do this season."
—Staff writer Chelsea Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com