So far this season, the Harvard women's swim team has been a high-spirited group that, win or lose, has consistently improved both its times and its finishes.
But the team is young (12 of the 21 members are freshmen) and it is unlikely they can swim past experienced teams like Princeton and Yale.
Both the Tigers and Elis have recruited swimmers and supported extensive women's programs in past years, and they have too much depth for the Harvard women. But Crimson coach Stephanie Walsh is certainly realistic in saying that she expects at least a third place finish this weekend from her swimmers.
So as the eight teams converge on Philadelphia today for two days of competition at the first annual Ivy League Women's Swimming Championships, Harvard, Yale and Princeton look to be the big three to watch at Penn's Sherr Pool.
Crimson superstars Jane Fayer and Maura Costin should be especially formidable contenders. Fayer has won consistently in the freestyle sprint events, and Costin is undefeated in the 200-yd. Individual Medley, the 200-yd. butterfly, and the distance freestyle events.
The freestyle relay team of Fayer, Costin, Mary Ellen Mangano, and Sharon Beckman should also fare well. They hold the current 400-yd. team record of 3:59.72.
But as a team the Harvard women will have great difficulty keeping up with either the Tigers or the Elis. Princeton's 6-2 swimmers will be led by sophomore Mary Sykes whose 53.985 clocking in the 100-yard freestyle has qualified her for the National Championships.
The Elis (3-0 in the Ivies) boast four multi-talented swimmers in Michelle Robertson (butterfly sprints), Nancy Cahill (breastroke sprints), Carolyn Hyde (distance freestyles) and Molly Smith (backstroke).
Trailing the big three will be Cornell (6-1, but no Ivy League meets), Dartmouth (4-4, 0-2 in the Ivy League), Barnard (5-2), Pennsylvania (3-2, no Ivy League meets), and Brown (0-7-1).
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