Going into this weekend’s dual meet, the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team had never beaten Princeton at DeNunzio Pool. In fact, no Ivy League team had ever beaten out the four-time reigning Ivy League champions at home. But the Crimson was not about to let history repeat itself.
With wins in 14 of the meet’s 19 events, Harvard became the first Ivy opponent to take down the Tigers in its home pool at this weekend’s annual HYP meet with a 106-80 win. The Crimson also handled Yale, 153-33, to stay perfect against league foes.
“For me as a senior, and for the rest of the seniors, it was a really special thing to go into their home pool and be the first team in the Ivy League to ever beat them [there],” co-captain Owen Wurzbacher said. “It’s something we’ve really been going for, ever since I was a freshman, but [it] eluded us.”
Harvard (8-0, 6-0 Ivy), Yale (7-2, 4-2), and Princeton (5-1, 5-1) all entered the meet with perfect league records on the line. With the win, the Crimson clinched at least a share of the conference dual-meet title.
“It’s just a really great way to finish a career,” Wurzbacher said. “But most importantly, it’s a huge step forward for this team. Where we’ve come from when I was a freshman to where we are now is just incredible. I’m fortunate and proud to be a part of Harvard men’s swimming and diving right now.”
Harvard got off the blocks fast this weekend, taking gold in eight of Saturday’s 10 events. Sophomore Chuck Katis started day one with wins in the 100 breast and 200 IM.
“I think the team energy was the best it’s ever been,” Katis said. “The collective team energy just really helped everyone accomplish what they wanted to get out of the weekend, and I think we came out a better team.”
In the final day of competition Sunday, Harvard took home the title in six more events to secure the victory.
Leading the charge for the Crimson was the standout performance of Oliver Lee. The junior teamed with classmate Jack Pretto, Katis, and sophomore Griffin Schumacher to set a school record and take home gold in the 200 medley relay with a NCAA ‘B’ standard time of 1:27.18.
Lee also picked up a win in the 100 free with a new personal best time of 43.29, the 10th best time in the country this season and the second best time in Harvard history.
Earlier in the meet, Lee broke another school record in the 50 free with a time of 19.76, picking up another NCAA ‘B’ standard time.
“Oliver was incredible,” Wurzbacher said. “He helped set the tone for the entire meet. He was aggressive and raced in an incredibly poised, powerful fashion. He was just on top of his game right from the get-go. And he set an example for the rest of the team to follow.”
The Crimson’s freshman class stepped up to the challenge in their biggest dual meet of the season. First-year Christian Carbone took home first in the 400 IM with a time of 3:49.58, the fifth fastest time in program history. Classmate Steven Kekacs set a new personal best en route to a victory in the 500 free with a time of 4:26.33.
“What was impressive was the way our underclassmen stepped up,” Wurzbacher said. “I think that speaks to the way our upperclassmen were able to set the tone. We had some amazing swims from some younger guys.”
The Crimson hopes to ride the momentum of this weekend’s success into its final dual meet of the season next weekend against Penn and into the ECAC and Ivy League championships.
“We see this as a very important step forward,” Wurzbacher said. “We have much bigger things to accomplish. Ultimately, the Ivy League championships are our goal. We are really excited about the possibilities ahead and how fast we’re going to be able to swim.”
“I think everyone’s going to come back [to practice] with some fire in their eyes,” Katis said. “The next couple of weeks are very important for us, training-wise. We have a lot of great spirit going into the next few weeks, and it sets us up well to win Ivies.”
The women’s swimming and diving team also took care of business, downing Yale 209-89, and Princeton, 199-99.
With the win, the Crimson improved to 9-0 in dual meets and 7-0 in the Ivy League, securing a conference championship of its own. Freshman Kendall Crawford set two program-records in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @BrennaRaeN.