On Wednesday, the Bob Kiphuth Trophy—the award given to the winner of the men’s Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships—arrived at Blodgett Pool. After four days of competition, it will be staying in Cambridge for the next year.
The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team is the Ancient Eight champion once again. Taking no chances after losing by just 21.5 points to Princeton at last year’s title meet, the Crimson (9-0, 6-0 Ivy League) took a decisive lead in the first day of the competition and never looked back. In the end, Harvard blew its competitors out of the water, posting 1705 points in its home pool to win its 24th conference championship.
“It feels amazing to be Ivy League Champions again,” senior Aly Abdel Khalik said. “There is nothing better than winning at home after losing on the road two years in a row. I am so proud of this team and what we have accomplished this season.”
The Crimson adds the title to an already impressive collection of accolades this year, which includes an undefeated regular season and an Ivy League dual championship.
“It's a surreal feeling and it's going to take some time to really sink in,” junior Koya Osada said. “Since the very beginning of the season, our goal was to bring the Ivy Championship back to Harvard. It was extra sweet to be able to win in front of our home crowd and it's a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
With Princeton out of contention after its season was suspended in December, it was up to the other “killer-P” to push Harvard. Penn finished the weekend as the next-best performer with 1335 points, while Columbia posted 1208, good for third.
In its efforts to bury the Quakers, the Crimson put forth a number of record-breaking performances, beginning with the opening race of the meet, the 200 medley relay.
Seniors Jack Manchester and Max Yakubovich, junior Shane McNamara, and freshman Dean Farris teamed up for the event. The group kicked off the meet by edging Penn in a time of 1:25.52. The mark is a new best for Blodgett Pool and for Harvard.
Farris swam another record-setting time in the next event, joining up with sophomore Brennan Novak, Abdel Khalik, and fellow freshman Zach Snyder for the 800 freestyle relay. The Crimson lineup took first place by more than 13 seconds and obliterated the meet and pool records by five and six seconds, respectively.
Farris also broke the 200 freestyle school, meet, and pool record in his leg of the 800 free relay. The new mark wouldn’t stand for long, though. Later in the meet, the freshman topped his own time in the final heat of the 200 free, touching the wall in 1:31.56.
Farris’ time is the sixth-fastest in collegiate history and the fastest in the country this year, meaning that the first-year is currently the NCAA’s top-seeded athlete in the event.
Farris wasn’t finished, however. The Atlanta-dwelling rookie would go on to eclipse the pool, program, and meet record by over a second in the 100 backstroke just two events later. Manchester took second in the race, and Yakubovich ended up in third place to complete the podium sweep.
Continuing the theme of the weekend, the Harvard and Blodgett Pool records for the 100-yard freestyle would fall to Farris as well. The first-year finished with a time of 42.06, edging out junior Ed Kim for the gold.
Farris went on to anchor the 400 medley relay team to a victory in a pool, school, and meet-record time of 3:06.98. The freshman was joined by Manchester, McNamara, and Yakubovich.
At the end of the meet, Farris was presented with the Phil Moriarty Award as the highest achieving swimmer for the competition.
In the shadows of Farris’s weekend, Manchester quietly enjoyed a record-breaking solo victory of his own, beating the former school-, pool-, and meet-best marks in the 200 backstroke. Sophomore Daniel Tran finished third in the event.
For his efforts, Manchester was awarded the Harold S. Ulen Award, given to the meet’s career high-point swimmer.
Aside from Farris and Manchester, Novak set a new school record in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 8:50.79, good for second place. Sophomore Logan Houck touched the wall after him, with Snyder trailing close behind in fourth place. The trio improved collectively on the result in the 500 freestyle, as Novak finished first, Houck was second, and Snyder took fourth place.
The Crimson closed out the meet with another relay record to continue its successful run in the team events. Yakubovich, Manchester, Farris, and Kim outdid the former pool- and program- best times with a mark of 2:52.1 to win the 400-yard freestyle relay.
In total, Harvard swimmers set records in nine events over the course of the meet. In a dominating performance, the Crimson missed out on a podium spot in only one race and won 12 of 21 events.
Two of those victories came from Yakubovich, who defended his title in the 100 fly and chipped in a victory in the 200 as well. The senior’s time of 46.54 seconds in the 100 butterfly was a personal best and the second-fastest mark in program history.
Harvard had a successful meet on the boards as well. Although Columbia junior standout Jayden Pantel took top marks in both the one- and three-meter dives, the Crimson was the only team to send three athletes to the finals for both events.
In the one-meter dive, Harvard captured three of the top four spots, with junior Bobby Ross in second, freshman Austin Fields in third, and junior David Pfeifer just three points behind in fourth.
Pfeifer managed to surpass Fields in the three-meter event, taking third with a score of 302.4. Fields finished fourth, while Ross took second place once again.
A number of other Crimson swimmers also collected podium results to secure the win.
McNamara took second in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events, junior Steven Tan picked up a silver medal in the 50 freestyle, and Novak and Houck finished second and third, respectively, in the 1650 freestyle. Manchester also touched the wall third in the 200 Individual Medley, while co-captain Eric Ronda in bronze medal position in the 200 breaststroke.
“We're incredibly excited about the win,” Yakubovich said. “The trophy hasn't been back on Harvard soil since last time the meet was at home, and we hope to keep it here for the next few years.”
—Staff writer Sam O.M. Christenfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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