Harvard Takes Down Two Ivy Visitors

Nida Naushad

Harvard women’s swimming and diving won the day’s first eight races and took 12 of 16 events Saturday against Cornell and Dartmouth at Blodgett Pool—the Crimson’s fifth straight home victory. The host opened its season coming off a second-place finish in last year’s Ivy championships.

This weekend, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team—which took second place in the 2010 Ivy League Championships—proved that this year, it has its sights set on reaching the very top of the Ancient Eight.

It won a total of 12 out of 16 events in its first home meet of the season Saturday afternoon, in which the Crimson (2-0, 2-0 Ivy) beat Cornell (0-2, 0-2) and Dartmouth (1-1, 1-1) to take top prize at Blodgett Pool. Harvard has now won eight straight meets at home.

“It was really exciting,” said sophomore freestyle sprinter Jenna Gregoire. “This was our first chance to show the Ivy League what we’ve been working on. We swept almost every event, and our freshmen did great, which is always exciting. I think it shows that all of us are really excited for the rest of the season.”

The freshmen impressed for Harvard in almost every race in the meet. In the first heat of the 1,000-yard freestyle, rookie Courtney Otto lapped Cornell’s Katie Morin and Dartmouth’s Lindsay Tyler only 7:33 into the race. She completed the last of the 40 laps before any of her opponents were beginning their 39th.

“The freshmen are really impressive,” Gregoire said. “Every time you have a group of recruits coming up, they are generally faster than the years ahead of them. That is pretty much a given in every sport. They’ve integrated very well into our team, and [on Saturday] you could definitely see that they are really talented.”

Otto’s classmate Faith Martin earned first place in the 200-yard freestyle, while in the second heat of the 1,000-yard freestyle, fellow freshmen Kelsey Hojan-Clark finished in a time of 10:03.28, over 12 seconds ahead of any other swimmer in the heat.

Also evident on Saturday was the Crimson’s consistency across the board, as by day’s end, it had collected six 1-2 finishes. Senior Meghan Leddy also attributed this to the tight relationships of the swimmers themselves.

“We got 1-2 in most of the events, so that is definitely a good indication of the future,” Leddy said. “I think each group is very particular; they are each closely knit. Each holds each other accountable and trains together every day, so we expect a lot of each other. I think with a big team that is a necessity. It all comes together really well when we race together.”

In addition to Hojan-Clark and Otto’s performances in the 1,000-yard freestyle, the 1-2 finishes of the day included senior Catherine Zagroba and Hojan-Clark’s in the 500-yard freestyle, freshman Stephanie Ferell and junior Mackenzie Luick’s 100-yard breaststroke, Ferell and senior Helen Pitchik’s 200-yard breaststroke, Otto and sophomore Danielle Schulkin’s 200-yard butterfly, as well as Leddy and junior Caroline Weaver’s 200-yard backstroke.

In the diving portion of the meet, senior Leslie Rea pulled out a first-place finish in the one-meter dive. Despite an injury, she was able to score a total of 263.95 points.

“I actually woke up [Saturday] morning and hurt my foot, so I didn’t think I was going to dive,” Rea explained. “But I told them to tape it up, and I sucked up the pain. It’s my senior year, and I didn’t really want to miss any meets. I think things went really well, and I really couldn’t have asked for any more.”

Along with Rea’s performance, sophomore Schuyler Moore came in fifth place and classmate Alex Stanton came in seventh, earning, respectively, 242.50 and 230.30 points.

According to Rea, it will be imperative for all the squad’s members—from freshmen to seniors—to continue the sense of urgency and will to win that Harvard showed off to the rest of the Ivy world on Saturday.

“As a team I think we just want to keep supporting each other,” Otto said. “We have this quote, ‘I am who I am because who we are,’ and every practice and every meet, that is the mentality that we want to have. That is our major team goal—just to keep that mentality—and I think if we all do that, we will have a great season.”