The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team improved to a perfect 6-0 in dual meets on the season after picking up wins against Notre Dame and Towson this weekend. The Crimson faced one of its toughest tests of the season, going up against the No. 20 Fighting Irish squad.
“It was great to swim against some very good competition and come away with a win,” co-captain Greg Roop said. “It really excited us and motivated us to see how fast we can go for the rest of the season.”
Harvard steadily handled both non-conference opponents, topping Notre Dame with a 264-100 victory and taking down the Tigers with a 314-52 win.
“[The meet] was a great opportunity to prove ourselves,” sophomore Chuck Katis said. “To beat [the Irish] on both days was great for us. Being a top-20 team is one of our goals this season. Our success at this meet really reinforced that goal. It was a milestone for us to be able to compete at that level.”
In the team’s first swim of the night, the 400 medley relay squad of Jack Pretto, Katis, Oliver Lee, and Chris Satterthwaite set a pool record with a time of 3:17.66, beating the rest of the competition by over two seconds. The Crimson picked up a bronze in the event as well, as Kyle McIntee, Owen Wurzbacher, Jacob Luna, and Will Brophy teamed for a time of 3:20.44 to finish in third.
“Both days, the team was very excited to swim fast and very excited to race against a really great Notre Dame team,” Roop said. “[Winning the opening relay] really got people excited, and we really never look back from there.”
Led by some breakout swims from its freshman class, Harvard came away with victories in 16 of the meet’s 19 events.
Rookie Christian Yeager won the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:48.28, with classmate Tyler Rocca closely behind. Rocca touched the wall shortly after Yeager, and the Crimson duo finished almost a full four seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.
Rocca went on to later win the 100 backstroke in a time of 50.78. Harvard swept the podium in the event, as freshman Jacob Luna finished second and junior Jack Pretto rounded out the top-three.
First-year Christian Carbone set a pool record in the 400 IM. His time of 3:52.34, over four seconds better than the second place finisher, was a personal best and good for an NCAA ‘B’ standard time. Carbone also picked up a win in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:48.29.
“We had a lot of great swims this weekend,” Katis said. “A lot of the freshmen really stepped up. I think every freshman had at least one or two great swims. I think across the board we had a lot of people step into the shoes they really needed to fill.”
Katis failed to win the 100 breast for the first time this season, but the sophomore’s second-place time of 54.73 was still good enough for an NCAA ‘B’ standard.
“I think everyone on the team is at different points rest-wise,” Katis said. “In my case, given the amount of work I’ve been doing, my times this weekend were some of the best I’ve had unrested, which was a great sign.”
In one of the most dominant events of the meet, the Crimson swept the top five spots in the 200 freestyle. Satterthwaite led the charge with a time of 1:40.05, edging out sophomore Zachary Walters for the top spot by .19 seconds. Roop came in third with a time of 1:40.29, while sophomores Kyle McIntee and Griffin Schumacher rounded out the top five.
The meet served as good preparation for the back end of Harvard’s conference schedule. The Crimson will face off this coming weekend against Yale and Princeton, and will face similarly stiff competition in the No. 23 Tigers.
“I think this sets the tone for this weekend,” Katis said. “We are all very excited to go compete in Princeton’s home pool. I think we’re going to go in with a great win this [past] weekend behind [us].”
But even with a tough Ivy League test at the front of its mind, Harvard also has its eyes set of greater success down the road at the Ivy and ECAC Championships.
“It’s very encouraging to see people swim as fast as they did this weekend as we go into the final end of our season,” Roop said. “It’s really motivating to know that, physically, we are ready to swim fast. And if we approach the rest of the season with the proper attitude, then I think a lot of really good things will happen.”
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at email@example.com.