With a historic win against Princeton two weekends ago in the books, the No. 16 Harvard men’s swimming and diving team had just one dual meet left on its schedule. Having taken down all other opponents, the Crimson (9-0, 7-0 Ivy) had its eyes set on an undefeated dual meet season. All that stood in the way was one last matchup against conference foe Penn.
“That [win against Princeton] was huge for us,” co-captain Greg Roop said. “We had never beaten Princeton in their home pool before, so we had a tremendous amount of momentum coming off of that. Everyone was really excited to get back to the pool.”
Harvard would have to wait an extra week to face off against the Quakers due to weather conditions that made travel near impossible last weekend. But it was business as usual for the Crimson, who took down Penn, 195-98, to conclude its perfect season.
“For this meet, more so than in the past, [we] were orienting ourselves for our championships meets at the end of the season,” fellow co-captain Owen Wurzbacher said. “Today was really about toughness and competing and staying aggressive. We did that.”
Harvard got off to a hot start, as sophomore Chuck Katis and juniors Jack Pretto, Oliver Lee, and Chris Satterthwaite combined for a time of 1:30.66 to win the 200 medley relay. Lee went on to pick up a victory in the 100 butterfly later that afternoon.
The Crimson picked up wins in the next three straight events. Sophomore Mike Gaudiani finished with a time of 9:23.61 to claim a victory in the 1000 freestyle. Roop edged out teammates freshman Ty Rocca and senior Ryan Cutter for a 1-2-3 finish for Harvard in the 200 freestyle. Pretto hit the wall in a time of 50.24 for a win in the 100 backstroke.
The Crimson concluded with wins in eight of the final 12 events, for a total of 12 victories on the day. Freshman Christian Carbone and classmate Christian Yeager won the 200 butterfly and the 200 backstroke, respectively, and junior Danny Crigler picked up a win in the 50 free. Crigler also finished second to sophomore Griffin Schumacher in the 100 free. Roop rounded out the top three in the event for another 1-2-3 finish for Harvard.
The Crimson also swept the podium in the 500 free. Satterthwaite finished in a time of 4:36.23 to take top honors, closely followed by Gaudiani and fellow sophomore John Bailey. The trio finished within three seconds of each other and over eight seconds ahead of their next nearest competitor.
Sophomore Michael Mosca claimed top honors in both of the meet’s diving events, taking home first in the three meter and one meter contests. Harvard claimed the top four spots in both events.
The win on Senior Day capped the Crimson’s second undefeated season in the past three years.
“It was a little bit surreal, after the meet when I realized it was the last time I would ever swim a meet in our home pool,” Roop said. “But it was so sweet going out knowing you had beaten everyone in the league.”
In addition to being Senior Day, another added focus for the day’s events was on the team’s “Ironman” challenge.
“We have a tradition on the team every year where the freshman who best exudes the qualities that characterize HMSD is elected Ironman for his class,” Wurzbacher said. “He is required to swim in every single heat of every single event. It’s a really challenging individual thing to do. One of the most fun parts of the season is being out there, supporting him through that.”
This year, freshman Jacob Luna was elected the honors for the Class of 2016. In addition, Katis, a sophomore, competed in all the day’s swimming events as well. Katis, who has already qualified for this year’s NCAA Championships, was unable to complete his Ironman last year due to scheduling issues.
Now with its dual meet schedule concluded, Harvard has its eyes set solely on its championship meets in the coming weeks. The Crimson’s main goal for the entire season has been reclaiming the Ivy League title from No. 20 Princeton.
“The best perspective we can have is to view ourselves as underdogs,” Wurzbacher said. “The facts are that Princeton has won the Ivy League Championship every single one of the past four years. Princeton’s the favorite. They’ve won four years in a row. But we’re going in to upset them.”
In total, the Crimson earned first place in 12 of the day’s 16 events.
—Staff Writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @crimsonbrn.