Undefeated in the Ivy League for the start of its 2013-2014 campaign, the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team (3-0, 3-0 Ivy) took a break from Ancient Eight competition to test itself against stiffer squads. With the swimmers flying halfway across the country for the Texas Invitational, the divers remained in Cambridge for the MIT Invitational.
“We went down [to the University of Texas at Austin] with the intention…of seeing and [evaluating] the work that we’ve been doing and getting fast in the end against some of the best teams in the country,” co-captain Chris Satterthwaite said. “And we did exactly just that.”
Squaring off against some of the top ranked teams in Division I such as host and first-ranked Texas, fourth-ranked USC, and 10th-ranked Arizona, the 18th ranked Crimson held its own in the pool at Austin.
Though the overall strength of the field led to Harvard swimmers finishing in a lower position than they would have against Ivy opponents, the Crimson athletes still saw many of their season times drop in Austin.
“This [was] a chance to race some guys who we probably don’t have a chance of beating, but it gives us the opportunity to rise above [our personal limits],” Satterthwaite said. “It gives us a little more experience and training going into a meet like the Ivy Championships, where the competition level is very high.”
On day one of the invite, Satterthwaite and fellow co-captain Oliver Lee teamed up with familiar faces in junior Griffin Schumacher and senior Danny Crigler to come in third in the 200 freestyle relay. Their NCAA provisional B time of 1:18.30 was just .24 seconds off their school record time and .73 seconds behind the winning Texas relay group.
Two evenings later, the quartet reunited for another third place finish, this time in the 400 free relay. The group’s 2:53.69 clip was good enough for another NCAA provisional B qualification.
“We’re going close to best times in the middle of the season, which is great,” Lee said. “It’s nice to see that we’re taking steps towards our best times, and some of us got our best times and others were close…. It means that we’re going to have great drops at the end of the season.”
Aside from swimming in the same lane for each relay, Satterthwaite and Lee found themselves getting set on different blocks for the 100 free.
“Aside from being captains, we’re really good friends, but also very competitive,” Lee said. “We swim [the same events] very differently, so he definitely pushes me at the back ends of the races, and I push him at the front ends. It helps us both reach higher levels we wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.”
Satterthwaite came out on top in the B heat final for 11th place with a 43.66 time, while Lee finished two spots behind at 44.08.
In his first collegiate invite, freshman Jack Manchester touched the wall eighth in the A heat of the 200 backstroke. His 1:44.42 time was both the same as his prelim time and good enough for a NCAA provisional B qualifying time.
Sophomore Jacob Luna continued his solid season with a time of 1:45.04 in the 200 butterfly and the highest individual finish for a Harvard swimmer for the invite.
“For Jack, this was a validation of the work he’s been doing in the water and the potential he has for the years to come, along with the other freshmen,” Satterthwaite said. “Jacob’s put in an incredible amount of work over the summer and in this year training-wise, and his race is a demonstration [of that] and the success he’ll have for the future.
Back home, after the Harvard women took both diving events, senior diver Joe Zarella followed suit, claiming both of the men’s diving events at MIT.
The Staten Island native defeated Tufts diver Jonah Schmidt in the three meter by six points with a final score of 383.20, while junior George Doran finished third with 356.40. Zarella continued his diving dominance with a 25-point margin of victory over his nearest opponent in the one-meter.
After coming in fifth at the 2011 Texas Invitational in the one-meter, Doran finished fourth in Austin this season, a little more than 54 points behind Zarella’s winning score of 349.40.
Rounding out an impressive showing by the Harvard diving program, freshman Manasseh Oso finished third in the one-meter and ninth in the three-meter.
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