Women's Swimming and Diving Races to Comfortable Win Against Cornell

In its first home meet of the season, the Harvard’s women swim and dive team continued the domination it displayed last weekend against Columbia. The Crimson (2-0, 2-0 Ivy) bested Cornell (1-1, 0-1) in 14 of 16 events, ultimately winning 199.0-96.0 at Blodgett Pool on Sunday.

“We always look forward to having our first home meet,” Harvard coach Stephanie Wriede Morawski said. “Last year, it wasn’t until January, so this is really fun to have it in November. Our freshman were very excited to be in front of a home crowd, and it’s at a day and time when a lot of people can make it. So, it’s thrilling for us to be here and it’s great to swim Cornell. They put up some good competition, and it gave us the opportunity to really focus on our race plans and our diving strategies because for us, what matters the most is how we’re going to perform at the end of the season, at the Ivy Championships here in February.”

With the Crimson swimming in the even lanes and the Big Red in the odd, the meet began with the 200 medley relay. Harvard’s A relay, which consisted of senior Kristina Li, junior Meagan Popp, and sophomores Mei Lynn Colby and Mikaela Dahlke, led immediately from the start and never looked back, breezing to a comfortable victory in 1:44.55. The Crimson’s B relay almost took second, finishing after Cornell’s A relay by less than a second.

In the 1000 free, a true test of endurance, freshman Michelle Owens jumped to an immediate lead, and was paced by the Big Red’s Annaklara Doel. However, with strong strokes and turns, Owens was able to clock an impressive time of 10:18.76, with Doel finishing in 10:21.60.

The 200 free got off to a roaring start, with all swimmers finishing their first 50 within 1.5 seconds of each other. At the hundred, three Harvard swimmers vied for the top place; ultimately junior Sonia Wang edged the competition out, touching the wall in 1:53.52.

In the 100 back, with long and efficient strokes, Colby seemed to almost coast to a first place finish; she finished with a time of 56.26, followed closely by Li in 56.57.

In the 100 breaststroke, freshman Ingrid Wall established herself as the leader early in the sprint, and finished in 1:03.62. Freshman Allie Russell outpaced the rest of the field with a 1:05.62.

In the 200 fly, the tough intermediate between sprint and long distance, only two Crimson swimmers raced. That proved enough, as junior Claire Pinson looked comfortable throughout the race, maintaining her form and easily extending her lead in the last 50 to win in 2:07.39.

The 50 freestyle, perhaps one of the most thrilling races of the meet, saw Harvard take the first two places, as Dahlke and freshman Kennidy Quist took first and second place, with times of 23.82 and 24.21, respectively.

By the three meter diving break, the Crimson had yet to concede a race to their Cornell opponents. In three meter diving, Harvard took the top four places, led by junior Mikaela Thompson with a score of 310.88. Thompson also emerged victorious in one meter diving with a score of 261.08.

“Diving went really well,” Thompson said. “For diving, you have to really focus on doing what you practice. You don’t want to change too much in the meet because it’s really about consistency, so I think that’s really good. There are a lot of changes that we’re all working on making in our diving, so I think we were able to emphasize those corrections and also still dive pretty well, especially since we’re familiar with the pool and this atmosphere, having our families here and our friends come watch us and give us that extra motivation to really dive well.”

At the end of the break, the 100 freestyle saw Quist and sophomore Jerrica Li blow past the rest of the competition, finishing with times of 51.74 and 51.92, respectively, to finish two seconds ahead of the next finisher.

In the 200 backstroke, sophomore Matti Harrison and the Big Red’s Helen Hsu were stroke-for-stroke for most of the race. It appeared that Hsu would edge out Harrison, but a late surge by the latter in the final length gave her the win by 0.25 seconds in a time of 2:03.63. Korawski said that the team has focused on out-touching opponents in practice.

“We focus on racing all the time,” Korawski said. “We focus on being fearless and taking risks. So part of it is that you don’t want to make your move too late, and if you make it early and it doesn’t work, I’d rather see that now, but I want them to make a move and go for it. So we talk about, it’s not just about the times. That’s just an end result. It’s about what you can do in the race, what process you’re going to have to beat someone. So it comes back to that strategy. So we focus on beating each other in practice and now this is the opportunity to put those skills to the test in a close race to see if we can come out on top.

The Crimson continued its dominance in the 200 breaststroke, sweeping the top three places with a trio of Popp, Russell, and Wall finishing within a four second spread.

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