The Harvard men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs proved their dominance within the Ivy League with their individual league championships but in the upcoming weeks, a few Crimson athletes will have the chance to represent Harvard on a national scale. The women will compete in the NCAA Division I Championships March 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. and the men will compete March 27-29 in Austin, Texas.
To say the challenge of reaching the NCAAs is fierce would understate the fact. For the swimmers, each event took the 35 women and the 30 men with the top times in the country. On the diving side, 35 men and women will each get the chance to compete.
One of the divers competing is junior Mike Mosca, who swept the Ivy League Championships in both the one-meter and three-meter events. He punched his ticket for the NCAAs earlier this week in the Zone A Qualifying Meet, taking third on the three-meter board and topping the podium in the following one-meter event.
“I think the NCAA diving qualifier is very difficult because from Harvard’s standpoint there was only one man and one woman who went,” said men’s swimming and diving coach Kevin Tyrrell. “You don’t have that team dynamic of 40 people cheering for you at once but Mike can handle the pressure. He’s a proven winner and he can handle situations like that where some other people probably can’t.”
It will be Mosca’s second consecutive trip to the championships. He added several new dives to his repertoire this year, increasing the degree of difficulty of his diving portfolio.
“It’s a big competition, it can be intimidating,” Mosca said. “But I think I’ve been to enough of those at this point in my life that I know just to have fun.”
Though the men’s team has yet to find out which swimmers have qualified, it is expecting to send the 200-yard freestyle relay team and freshman Eric Ronda in the 200 breaststroke. Other possible qualifiers include senior Chris Satterthwaite and freshman Jack Manchester, but both could miss out by four or five spots according to Tyrrell.
Alongside Mosca at the Zone A Qualifiers on the women’s side was freshman Elina Leiviska. The rookie took 14th in the one-meter dive and 12th in the three-meter after placing in both events at the Ivy League Championships.
“I’m proud of her,” said women’s swimming and diving coach Stephanie Wriede Morawski ’92. “As a freshman, it is tough to be up against competition who know how things work. She learned a lot and will definitely be a competitor next year.”
At Ivies, sophomore Danielle Lee not only set a program record by winning the 100 backstroke, but later won the 200 backstroke, setting another pool record, and placed third in the 400 and 200 medley relay.
The sophomore clocked in at 52.77 in her 100 backstroke during the 400 medley relay, registering an NCAA B cut time and setting an Ivy League record. Lee found out this week she was invited to race in the 100 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and the 200 backstroke events.
“I didn’t think I would make it this year,” Lee said. “I went into the year swimming and practicing and just hoping for the best. I would have been happy dropping a little bit of time, but it’s nice to know that all of the work I did this year paid off.”
While the rest of her team wrapped up for the season a few weeks back, Lee remained hard at work. Some of her teammates have joined in as well, supporting the sophomore in her preparation for NCAAs.
“There have been a couple of swimmers that came and swam with me during the week, which is really nice because it’s hard to motivate yourself for difficult sets when it’s just you,” Lee said. “There’s been so much support throughout the season—from my captains, my fellow sophomores, and the whole team really.”
Lee hasn’t set specific goals for her performance at NCAAs, but looks forward to representing the Crimson.
“It’s really special that there aren’t very many swimmers that make it to the NCAAs from the Ivy League,” Lee said. “I hope that I’m able to compete and be at the level of all those other swimmers that are from big universities that focus on athletics, and that I am able to be up there with them, and race alongside them.”
—Staff writer Orlea L. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached email@example.com