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The Harvard women’s swim team travelled to the Big Apple over the weekend and beat the Columbia, 201.5-98.5. The Crimson (3-0, 3-0 Ivy) also went on to break two pool records in the process in the rout of the Lions (0-3, 0-3 Ivy).
Jing Leung, a Harvard sophomore diver from Orpington, England, consistently outpaced the competition, finishing the meet with a record score of 321.30 on the three-meter. Previously, the pool record for the three-meter stood at 319.73, which had been set by Yale’s Lilybet MacRae in 2013
Leung went on to sweep the boards, with a winning score of 291.23 in the one-meter competition.
Other Crimson divers had strong showings as well. Freshman Katie Russ finished second in two diving events with scores of 291.01 and 277.35 in the three-meter and one-meter competitions, respectively.
The standout on the swimming side of the team was Harvard freshman Sonia Wang. Wang swam in four events—the 200 yard medley relay, the 200 butterfly, the 200 backstroke, and the 400 yard IM—winning each of the individual events handily.
Wang was most impressive in the 200 butterfly, in which she broke Columbia’s Courtney Otto’s record of 2:00.32 by a 0.31 margin to claim the pool record and a full six second quicker than the next-best finisher in the heat.
In addition to the record-breaking showings, Harvard put up first place showings in 13 of the 17 events. These strong performances led to a big lead after the first half of the meet against what some of the swimmers thought was an unpredictable opponent.
“It’s always hard to know what to expect,” sophomore Gabby Sims said. “When we travelled to Columbia two years ago, they wore racing suits and they beat us, which had never happened before, so this year we didn’t want to underestimate them.”
Teammates echoed Sims’ outlook.
“We didn't know if Columbia was going to taper and suit up for us or not, so we were going in expecting them to really put up a good fight,” senior Danielle Lee said. “This meet has always been pretty close in previous years.”
Crimson coach Stephanie Wriede Morawski ’92 had this in mind when she picked out the lineups for the meet, stacking the first half of day with Harvard swimmers swimming their best events. But the Crimson women also showed their versatility and endurance gained through a strenuous workout program with a comprehensive second half performance that wrapped up the big win for Harvard.
“We have been training so hard both in and out of the pool,” Lee said. “In fact, I think this is the most dry-land training that we have done in the past 4 years.”
Even with the program’s recent successes, the goal has continued to be further improvement. Though undefeated in league competition last season up until the Ivy League Championships, the team finished second to Princeton in the final Ancient Eight competition of the 2014-2015 season.
“I think our coaches have been pushing us more than last year,” Sims said. “The team is looking better and stronger than it was at this time last year. We are still working on our racing, and some of us are still trying to figure out what events we will be doing at the end of the season, but in general I think training and our performances at the meets have been going really well.”
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