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After winning the Ivy League and Eastern Championships last season, the Harvard women's swim team began this season with a lot of new faces and a lot of uneasiness about the schedule ahead.
There may still be a lot of new faces around Blodgett Pool, but there is much less unease about the future after the Crimson chalked up two wins over the weekend.
On Saturday, Harvard slammed Columbia, 198-99, at home and then traveled down to Rhode Island on Sunday to beat Brown by a similar margin, 178-105.
The two lopsided victories provided convincing proof that the Crimson can repeat the impressive accomplishment.
"I don't see any reason why we can't repeat," senior Tri-Captain Lynn Kelly said. "Youth isn't as much of a disadvantage in swimming, and we've been swimming really well so far."
On Saturday, Harvard began its year by cruising past Columbia at Blodgett Pool, 198-99. The team victory was highlighted by a string of individual wins.
In the 200-yard medley relay, one of the Crimson's strong events this season, the quartet of Alexa Zesiger, Deborah Kory, Carrie Miller and Jennifer Miksis won with a time of 1:49.8.
Kory, a sophomore who was first team All-Ivy last year, added three more wins to Harvard's column, in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events and the 200-yard individual medley.
Kory's teammates added to the pile of Harvard first places.
Zesiger won the 100-yard backstroke, Miller won the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events, and Miksis took second in the 50-yard freestyle.
Junior Heather Gibbons took the 1,000-yard freestyle in 10:20, while freshmen Greta Steffenson emerged first in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events.
Diver Marcia Vital rounded out the Harvard wins with a victory in the 3 meter platform event.
"Overall, it was just a really good meet for us," said Harvard Assistent Coach Stacie Duncan. "Since it was the first meet of the year, we wanted to post some fast times, and pretty much everyone did that."
The next day, Harvard rebounded immediately to defeat Brown, although the times were generally slower than they had been on Saturday.
Many of the same individuals shined again for the Crimson, as Zesiger defeated all comers in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke events, Steffenson triumphed the 200-yard freestyle and Kory finished first in the 500-freestyle and 400-individual medley.
Kelly won the 100-yard butterfly in 59.3 seconds, and freshman Sarah Durkin took the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:12.2 seconds.
Harvard Coach Maura Scalise stressed the contributions of some unsung freshmen.
"It's a really difficult transition for many of them, having to suddenly swim at the college level," she said. "I was really pleased that they swam as well as they did, in both meets."
Harvard's next test will be when it hosts the Harvard Invitiational Tournament in early December. During the tournament, the Crimson will swim against strong squads like Syracuse, Indiana and Villanova.
But after such a successful weekend, Scalise isn't afraid to raise expectations about the youthful Crimson.
"We can definitely win Ivy and Easterns again," she promised.
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