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Coming off an upset loss in its first dual meet of the season, the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team (2-1, 2-1 Ivy) was determined to right the ship when it traveled to Hanover, N.H. this past weekend.
The Crimson did just that on Saturday, as they swept the Tri-Meet and broke numerous pool and personal records. Harvard seemed to have forgotten about its loss at Columbia two weeks ago, as the team had its best performance of the season.
“After Columbia, we had a long bus ride home,” sophomore swimmer Kendall Crawford said. “We talked about what went well at the meet and what we could improve on for the next meet.”
After going undefeated in dual meets for over two full years, the Crimson was determined to remain in hot pursuit of a third consecutive Ivy League title. Facing league rivals Dartmouth and Cornell, Harvard returned to its usual form, winning 201-99 and 196-104, respectively.
“Coming into the Cornell-Dartmouth meet, we really [wanted] to show that losing to Columbia didn’t hurt our spirits at all,” Crawford said. “We are just as a fierce of a team as we were last year and we did that and showed that completely.”
With a total of 11 wins on the day, the Crimson regained control of the Ivy League and the loss against the Lions seemed like a distant memory. Harvard came out hot, taking first place in the first seven events of the meet.
“We know where we are in the season and we are focusing our goals towards the end of the season,” senior Sara Li said. “We didn’t want to let that loss take us off our path of winning the Ivy League Championship, so going into Dartmouth and Cornell we were focusing on ourselves and having fun.”
It was a record setting day for the Crimson, as the young stars took over in the pool. In the 200 medley relay, Crawford, along with fellow sophomores Danielle Lee, junior Stephanie Ferrell and freshman Victoria Chan, left the competition in their wake, recording a 1:45.00 time to win the race and beat the pool record by two seconds.
“We have been really working on relay starts this week and being more aggressive and having more fire and going for it,” Crawford said. “We really wanted to show that we were ready to go, and starting it off with such a strong relay really set the mark. Everything else just followed.”
Crawford didn’t stop there though, as she dazzled in the 100-yard backstroke to take a first place finish with a time of 55.34.
Lee continued on to set another pool record, posting a 1:50.63 in the 200 free to beat the old mark by over a second. This was also a personal record for Lee, swimming nearly a full second faster than her previous best at the Georgia Invitational last year.
Freshman Elina Leiviska took first place in the three-meter platform with a 306.35 point total and then nabbed first place again with a 284.65 in the one-meter dive. Sophomore Sherry Liu also performed well, recording a 10:09.73 to take first place in the long 1000 free.
“Every year it’s a new team and it’s really fun to adjust to that,” Crawford said. “There is always…new excitement and new blood. Training with some of the new freshmen has been really fun and it makes a big difference. “
But the rookies weren’t the only ones racing through the lanes, as Ferrell placed second in the 100 breaststroke, and then earned victories in the 200 breaststroke and 500 free to keep the Crimson’s momentum rolling. Junior Courtney Otto swam a whole three seconds faster than the competition in the 200 butterfly with a 2:04.20.
Harvard looked as if it wouldn’t lose in the pool, as it kept taking first place with another top finish from Chan in the 100 fly. As the Crimson’s strong day began to wind down, Chan led the 400 freestyle relay with fellow freshmen Daniela Johnson, Lee, and Li. The group would beat the previous record by over four seconds to put the icing on the cake for Harvard.
“Having the experience [of being a senior] has been really helpful,” Li said. “Everyone on the team really helps and inspires each other. We help the freshmen and their energy invigorates the upperclassmen.”
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