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They knew it would be a big meet...they even shaved for it.
When the Harvard men's swim team (5-0, 2-0 Eastern Regionals) left to face Virginia, Villanova and Florida State last weekend it knew that this was going to be an important weekend. Harvard, ranked No. 17 in the nation before the meet, knew that the showdown with fellow nationally ranked Florida State would be important, but a hairless Crimson squad was ready.
Co-captain Dave Alpert put it eloquently. "We came; we saw; we kicked their ass," he said.
Harvard was in fact, unstoppable, downing Florida State 145-95, Virginia 175-65, and Villanova 195-45.
"The whole team swam amazingly," Alpert said. "In pretty much every event, Harvard swimmers came in one-two-three."
But even with a stellar performance from the team as a whole, there is always room for standouts. Saturday's meet was no exception.
Freshman Tim Martin broke two of the Virginia pool records in a single race. His 1,000 meter split in the 1,650m freestyle was the fastest 1,000m the pool had ever seen, in any race including the 1,000m freestyle. This fast start propelled him to a new record in the 1,650m which in addition to being the fastest time recorded in the country this year qualified Martin for NCAAs.
Junior Michael Kiedel returned to Cambridge with Cavalier pool records of his own. Kiedel destroyed his competition in the 200m and 500m freestyle. Each of these performances earned him an NCAA qualification as well.
Sophomore Greg Wriede also had a standout performance. He won the 400m Individual Medley with a time of 3:51.7, the 200m IM in 150.5 seconds and the 200m backstroke in 147.8 seconds.
The Crimson 4x100 free style relay performed well enough to claim a new Harvard record. Junior Matt Cornue had the fastest split with a time of 44.2 seconds.
Cornue also provided Harvard with its fastest split in the 4x50m freestyle relay. His time of 19.7 seconds was the fastest split of the meet.
"Last year we had tied Harvard's best finish in NCAAs, 16th, our goal for this year was to do better," Wriede said. "In the preseason coach's poll we were only ranked 17th."
The meet, against nationally recognized programs, was meant to demonstrate that Crimson was also a national powerhouse.
"Our performance sent out a message to the rest of the country that we should have been ranked higher," Alpert said.
In addition to the competition, the timing of the meet was important to the team.
"It was the halfway point of our season," Cornue said. "And a good opportunity to put all our training to the test."
That's why they shaved.
And the Crimson are not letting up as it tries to repeat the successes of last season.
"Coach was very positive about the results of the meet," Cornue said. "But starting Monday we went back to work."
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