Sophomore Sonia Wang came into the 2017 Ivy League Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship meet after being out all season due to a stress fracture in her back. Despite her year-long absence, however, the Upland, Calif. native successfully defended her first-place crown in the 400-yard individual medley with a pool record-breaking time, shocking spectators and teammates alike.
In addition, Wang took third in both the 200 butterfly and the 200 individual medley, touching the wall in 1:58.02 and 1:59.65 respectively, earning NCAA B-cut times with both performances. But Wang wasn’t the only person dominating the pool during the four-day competition hosted by Brown in Providence, RI.
Wang’s performance was part of a team effort in which the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team finished second overall in the Ancient Eight title-deciding meet.
“As a team, we rose up to the challenge and everyone put forth their best swim,” senior co-captain Daniela Johnson Restrepo said.
The Crimson tallied 1,590.5 points, just under 100 points behind eventual Ivy champions Yale, whose 1,681 points won the Frank Keefe Trophy. Penn and Princeton finished a distant third and fourth, with 916 and 897 points, respectively.
Adding to Harvard’s individual achievements, sophomore Brittany Usinger won both the 100 and 200 butterfly, with times of 52.92 and 1:57.28, respectively. Usinger’s winning performances also earned NCAA B-cut times. In addition to her podium-topping competitions, the Lafayette, Calif. native also took sixth in the 100 backstroke and participated in the bronze-medal 200 medley relay.
Despite their loss to Yale, the group of Crimson women ended the weekend having broken several records and garnered several individual medals. The group’s leaders attributed the team’s successes to its aura of positivity.
“The energy and camaraderie that we had as a team created an exciting and motivating atmosphere,” Wang said. “I am so proud to be a part of the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team. They inspire me everyday to be a better swimmer, teammate, and friend.”
In addition, on Wednesday night freshman Miki Dahlke, set the Harvard record for the fastest 200 freestyle time during her leg of the 800 freestyle relay. The same relay went on to make its own mark on the Crimson history books, breaking the previous Harvard record time of 7:08.37.
Dahlke also captured bronze in the 100 free, right ahead of teammate junior Gabby Sims. In addition, the freshman came up with an unusual score in the 50 free, locked in a dead heat with Columbia sophomore Mary Ashby—both touched the wall in 22.80, so they split fourth place.
Sophomore Meagan Popp defended her title record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:58.45. In addition to her individual success, Popp also earned second in the 400 medley relay, alongside teammates freshmen Mei Lynn Colby, Dahlke, and freshman Jerrica Li. The same relay team also posted the fourth-best time in program history.
Despite her rookie status, Colby placed third in the 50 free, earning the spot of top Crimson finisher, and solidifying her place in the record books with the second fastest Harvard time ever.
On the boards, sophomore Mikaela Thompson dominated as well, defending her title in the one-meter dive by a 5-point margin. Junior Jing Leung took the top Crimson spot in the three-meter, though her second place score missed the gold by a mere three points.
The distance contingent, led by senior Willa Wang, also saw success. The senior solidified a place on the podium in the 1650 free, coming in third, as well as slating the same spot in the 1000 free. She was followed by junior Regan Kology, who took fifth in both the 1650 and 1000 free races.
“We gave it our best the whole way through,” senior co-captain Summer Schmitt said. “We did this for each other and not for ourselves. We gave everything we had for our team.”
Yale’s victory was its first Ivy League women’s swimming and diving title since 1997 and its seventh all-time. This year also marks the first time that Harvard and Princeton haven’t won since 1999, as the Crimson and Tigers have combined to claim the past 17 Ivy League women’s swimming and diving championships.
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