The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team stood head and shoulders above its competition in a three-school meet with Brown (5-2, 2-2 Ivy) and Penn (3-3, 2-3) on Saturday, winning both match-ups by its largest point spreads since last season.
Competing in Providence, R.I., the Crimson (6-0, 5-0) had at least two swimmers or divers place in the top three in 11 out of the 16 events. Harvard soundly defeated the Bears, 208-92, and also topped the Quakers, 241-58.
Following an eight-day training trip to Puerto Rico and a match-up against Miami last weekend, the team was not granted any rest this week but continued its conditioning push.
“At this point in the season we’re pretty tired and run down,” junior captain Sara Li said. “We’re at the most intense part of our training right now, so I’m really proud of the team for really digging in and getting into the fighting spirit and racing no matter what. That was our goal for today, and I think we did a great job of that.”
The Crimson was led by Li, who took home first place in three individual events and contributed to a win in the 200-yard medley relay.
Li went on to capture the title in both the 50 free and the 100 free shortly after the relay. The junior was the only Harvard swimmer to finish in the top four in each of the two races.
But Li was not done yet, and she capped off her night by sailing past her competititon to win the 200 IM by nearly three seconds.
“I’m happy with how I did,” Li said. “I think a big part of it is owed to the team and the team mentality. Everyone gets each other fired up, so I’m really swimming for my teammates. That’s my biggest inspiration.”
Freshman Kendall Crawford was nearly as consistent as Li. Crawford was also part of the first-place 200 medley team and she swam the first leg for the 400 free relay squad that outstretched a fighting Brown team to the wall.
Crawford cruised to victory in the 200 back, where she was almost six seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
The Crimson received another solid performance from freshman Danielle Lee, who took first in the 200 free. Four of the top five swimmers in the race were from Harvard.
In addition to her participation on the victorious 200 medley team, Lee secured her final win of the day in the 100 back. The freshman managed to edge out teammate Crawford, who owns the Crimson all-time record in the event.
Freshman Sherry Liu also stood out for Harvard, winning two races of her own. Liu’s margin of victory in the 1650 free was 18 seconds, with fellow freshmen Marlee Ehrlich and Margaret Ramsey finishing second and third, respectively.
“It’s hard to even pinpoint one [freshman] because they all work together, not only in the pool but as teammates, as people,” Li said. “All of them are really positive, they have great training attitudes, and we’ve all become really close. They’ve had a really positive impact on the team.”
Liu achieved similar success in the 500 free, taking first and missing her best time of the year by just a few tenths of a second.
On the diving side, captain Brittany Powell racked up the most points for the Crimson, finishing first in the 1-meter and second in the 3-meter to senior Teagan Lehrmann. Harvard placed four of the top five finishers in both events.
“For the diving, especially today, we haven’t been up against necessarily the best teams in the league yet,” Powell said. “So I think these have all been sort of like practice meets to try to get your dives consistent, but [our next meet] is going to be the real test of our mental acuity and our precision.”
The Crimson’s focus has been pinpointed on the match-up with Yale and Princeton, which will begin on Feb. 1. The competition features some of the best swimmers and divers in the Ivy League, and Harvard snapped Princeton’s 43-meet win streak last year.
“This is definitely the best preparation we can have, with two meets in one weekend,” Powell said. “HYP is a two-day meet, and [this weekend] prepares you mentally because if you had a tough day on the first day, or even if you had a great day, you need to forget about it and move on to your next races or your next day of diving. It’s going to be a dogfight and we’re going to have to fight for every single event.”
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at email@example.com.