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Harvard Wins ‘Iron Man’ Meet

FLAT IRON
Hannah Chung

While Harvard notched a decisive victory over Brown on Saturday, the real story of the meet was freshman Matthew McLean, the Crimson’s 2009 “Iron Man.” McLean finished every heat of every event, swimming 4250 yards.

Concluding their final dual meet before the epic Harvard-Yale-Princeton matchup this coming weekend, the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team (7-0, 5-0 Ivy) celebrated its 169-119 win over Brown (1-4, 1-3) last Saturday in unusual fashion. With Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” resonating through the speakers, freshman swimmer Matthew McLean was carried around Blodgett Pool on a stretcher for a post-meet victory lap.

However, the defeat of the Bears was significant in more ways than the simple maintenance of a perfect record. The contest was also the Crimson’s Iron Man meet.

The Iron Man is a freshman swimmer or diver selected by his peers who must compete in every heat of every event for the day. The layout of this year’s matchup meant that 2009 Iron Man McLean swam 4250 competitive yards in under two hours.

“It’s an awesome tradition,” said McLean’s father, Mike McLean, during the meet. “Harvard’s steeped in a lot of really great traditions, and assuming Matt survives this, I’ll think it’s a great tradition.”

McLean did survive, albeit barely—at the end of the meet, the freshman standout had turned a shade of crimson and was sporting ice packs on both shoulders.

“It’s pretty exhausting but it’s a good indication of how intense HMSD [Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving] is and how hard we train,” McLean said of his challenge.

Although the Simsbury, Conn. native was the obvious highlight of the competition, McLean was not the only member of the Crimson team who shone against Brown.

Harvard registered many standout performances on the day, capturing ten of the meet’s events.

Sophomore Zac Ranta continued his spree of domination, claiming both of the meet’s diving events. Ranta placed first in the 1-meter dive with a score of 316.5 points, as well as winning the 3-meter dive with 312.23 points.

Harvard also began the meet with a bang, emerging victorious in the first six swimming events.

The 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Rob Newell, junior Simone Melillo, senior Bill Jones and co-captain David Guernsey claimed the event for the Crimson, touching the wall in 1:33.55.

Three of the relay members were victorious in the individual events as well. Newell won the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:15.87, while Melillo took the 100-yard breaststroke in 58.51. Rounding out the order, Jones squeaked by co-captain Eric Lynch in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 1:40.77.

The Crimson also boosted its score through the victories of junior Mason Brunnick in the 1000-yard freestyle, freshman Niall Janney in the 100-yard backstroke, and sophomore Blake Lewkowitz in the 200-yard butterfly. The three Harvard swimmers finished in times of 9:32.35, 53.05 and 1:55.08, respectively.

Finally, sophomore Will Heyburn picked up the 200-yard IM for the Crimson in a time of 2:02.87, while junior Tommy Gray finished first in the 500-yard freestyle, touching the wall in 4:43.41.

Although Harvard did not place first in any of the day’s remaining events, it did register the fastest time in the 100-yard butterfly. Senior Dan Jones, who swam in the non-scoring second heat of the event, finished with a time of 50.26, passing Brown’s first-place winner, Dan Ricketts, who won the first heat in 50.30.

“I was pleased with the guys’ energy and their enthusiasm,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said of his team’s performance.

The Crimson will look to use this energy and build on its success as it prepares to meet its toughest competition of the season, the Princeton Tigers, on Saturday at the annual HYP meet.

—Staff writer Alexandra J. Mihalek can be reached at amihalek@fas.harvard.edu.
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