In its first meet of the season, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team nearly swept Columbia, winning nine of 11 events en route to a resounding 150.5-87.5 road victory at Uris Pool on Sunday.
“I think the meet went very well,” junior Brittany Usinger said. “We actually had an inter-squad meet last weekend. We wanted our team to get the kinks out in the beginning of the season, so that helped prepare us going into Columbia. I think our plan going in was to really focus on… executing our race plans well.”
Usinger posted a strong performance herself, swimming butterfly in the Crimson’s 200 medley relay. She finished with a first-place time 1:42.52, topping the Lions’ 1:44.24. The relay also featured sophomores Mei Lynn Colby and Jerrica Li along with freshman Ingrid Wall. Colby went on to later win the 50 free by 0.17 seconds with a time of 23.67.
Usinger also shined in the 200 fly, out-touching Columbia’s Jessica He by 0.11 seconds to finish with a time of 2:04.00, good for another top place.
“We’ve been working on really committing to our finishes and keeping our heads down and really racing the people next to us,” Usinger said. “In practice, of course we’re doing that with our teammates, but we’ve been preparing to do that against people of other teams as well, so I think everyone is doing a great job committing to finishing our races strong.”
Harvard dominated the 1000 freestyle, finishing with the top four places, led by sophomore Matti Harrison, who recorded a time of 10:19.35. Harrison maintained low 31s in her 50 splits and finished her roaring race with a speedy 100 in a minute flat. Senior Regan Kology, freshman Annabelle Paterson, and junior Sonia Wang followed Harrison.
In the 200 backstroke, senior captain Kristina Li finished with a quick time of 2:00.69. Li credited the team’s impressive races to strong preparation in the offseason and beginning of the season.
“We have different training groups depending on what we swim, so we’ve got distance group and sprint group and stroke groups and divers have been working on their dives as well,” Li said. “So things like keeping our stroke long and working on our walls, just a lot of technique stuff we’ve been working on for a couple of months now … that was a big focus of the week this weekend.”
New members to the Crimson also left a favorable impression for a bright future. Freshman Kennidy Quist tore through the water, finishing with a time of 5:01.30 in the 500 freestyle. Junior Meagan Popp finished a close second.
“[The freshmen] have done an excellent job settling in, and they’ve done a great job staying positive and not letting nerves overtake them for that first meet,” Usinger said.
Columbia’s A team took first place in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:35.31. The other Lions’ win came in the 200 breastroke.
In diving, the Crimson commanded the top three places in both the one-meter and three-meter events. In the three-meter, Senior Jing Leung and juniors Katie Russ and Mikaela Thompson finished with 299.47, 286.81, and 282.90 points, respectively. Thompson emerged victorious in the one-meter competition with 303.00 points.
“It’s kind of funny because a lot of swimmers, especially sprinters kind of execute their race plan and also give it their all and leave it all in the water,” Thompson said. “But for diving, it’s just trying to stay calm and managing your nerves so that you end up doing the dives you practiced.”
After a dominant victory, Harvard, the reigning Ivy League Champions, look to this meet as a launching pad for another successful year in the pool.