The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team has collected just about every accolade possible this season.
The Crimson completed an undefeated dual campaign, won the regular season Ancient Eight title, and brought home a 24th Ivy League Championship Meet crown.
This week, Harvard added another accomplishment to its collection, finishing 27th at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, held in Indianapolis, Ind. The team also picked up three All-America honors, its highest total since 2005.
“Winning Ivies and scoring more points at NCAAs then we have in years definitely exceeds my expectations for this season,” senior Max Yakubovich said. “I'm incredibly proud of the team, and I know there's more in store in the coming years.”
The Crimson’s 24 points saw the team conclude the meet as the highest-scoring Ancient Eight competitor by a wide margin. Cornell was the next-closest finisher with 7 points, good for 35th place, with Penn and Yale rounding out the Ivy League field as the meet’s 39th and 42nd-best programs, respectively.
However, the true value of the competition for Harvard was getting the opportunity to test its abilities against opponents it doesn’t normally face. The opposition included the top programs in the nation.
“Whenever we come to NCAAs, we're reminded of the caliber at which some of these teams perform,” Yakubovich said. “It's a great experience to compete against them, and I'm excited to watch the guys as our team becomes more and more of a national presence.”
This year, the Crimson can count one of its own among the ranks of the nation’s top swimmers.
Freshman Dean Farris wrapped up a standout debut season for Harvard by collecting two All-America honors, including first team distinction in the 200 freestyle.
The awards capped a campaign in which the rookie has smashed countless records and won nearly every race he’s entered. In February, Farris earned the Phil Moriarty Award, presented to the highest-scoring swimmer at the Ivy League Championships. As he helped to guide the Crimson to its first Ancient Eight title since 2014, the freshman broke six program records.
One of the previous-best marks to fall to Farris was the 200 freestyle. The first-year smashed the pool, program, and meet records in the event, clocking in at 1:31.56. That mark was the fastest in the country and the sixth-fastest in collegiate history at the time, making Farris the top seed in the event heading into NCAAs.
However, the first-year could not replicate his time from Ivies at the national championships, touching the wall in 1:32.25 in the finals for fourth place. Farris finished behind Texas sophomore Townley Haas and Indiana junior Blake Pieroni and USC junior Dylan Carter, who tied for second in a dead heat.
All three of the athletes who bested Farris competed at the 2016 Olympic Games, and Haas and Pieroni each won a gold medal in Rio in the 800 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay, respectively. Haas also won the 200 free at last year’s NCAA championships and holds the NCAA, American, and U.S. Open records in the event, although his winning time of 1:30.65 this year was two-tenths of a second off of his personal best.
Despite the world-class quality of his opposition, Farris kept his composure.
“I was definitely nervous going into the meet and before my races, but once I got into the water it was time to race,” Farris said. “It was an experience racing in that type of atmosphere.”