Despite not arriving in Cambridge as one of the top high school recruits in the country, men’s swimming and diving co-captain Chris Satterthwaite showed this weekend why he is now considered one of the best swimmers in the conference.
Satterthwaite led the team throughout the Ivy League Championship at Blodgett Pool this past weekend, putting up big points and record times to lead the Crimson to its first Ivy League title in six seasons. This year’s crown marks Harvard’s 23rd Ancient Eight championship overall.
“The Ivy League Championship is something that we had set as a team goal for the past four years,” Satterthwaite said. “We knew it was going to be a tough fight, and we just had to stay mentally strong for all three days. This is something we definitely appreciate. We put a lot of work in, and we’re glad it finally paid off."
The work that Satterthwaite has put in over his four years at Harvard was evident time and time again this weekend, as he helped the Crimson fight off solid competition from its Princeton rivals. The Tigers had won the Ancient Eight title every year from 2009 to 2013.
Satterthwaite and the Harvard squad didn’t waste any time setting the tone. The meet’s opening event was a 200 freestyle relay in which a Satterthwaite anchored foursome outswam its opponents by more than a second. The team broke its own school record and put up 64 points in the process.
Satterthwaite made his presence felt in individual events as well, as he came through with first-place finishes in both the 200 and 100 freestyle events and earned a third-place finish in the 50 free.
“There aren’t a lot of people that can [do that],” Harvard coach Kevin Tyrrell said. “Chris can score lots of points in lots of different events. Those freestyle races are huge for us, because they not only score lots of points individually, but they give us the opportunity to put Chris as our top swimmer on numerous relays."
In addition to the 200 free relay, Satterthwaite swam in the 400 medley relay, the 800 free relay, and the 400 free relay. The Crimson picked up first-place finishes in all four of those events.The 400 free relay, which was the last event of the championship, showcased Satterthwaite’s ability.
Going into that race, Harvard was already in position to win the meet, which allowed the Crimson swimmers to open up and go for broke.
“We had a big enough lead going into that event…so I didn’t have to tell them to go really slow in their starts and be worried about disqualifying the relay,” Tyrrell said.
The event was also a fitting way for Satterthwaite to cap off his final Ivy League Championship.
“The 400 free relay is probably my favorite event, just because we’ve had the same three guys on that relay since freshman year,” Satterthwaite said. “Four years ago when I was a freshman, the meet was at Harvard as well, so it was kind of surreal to be almost in the exact same scenario, except this time we were winning the meet. There was a lot going through my mind on that final leg, but ultimately I was just trying to get to the wall."
As it happened, he got to the wall in record time. His anchor leg capped off a 2:53.64 run to shatter a 34-year-old Blodgett pool record and seal the win for Harvard. The team’s time, however, was more than a full second slower than its meet-record mark set last year at Brown.
Satterthwaite’s presence was a key factor in the Crimson’s eventual 82-point victory, but the senior attributed the credit for the triumph to his teammates.
“I could list off our entire roster for notable performances,” he said.