Entering the pool for its first meet of 2018 after a training trip in Hawaii, Harvard pitted itself against conference opponents Penn and Brown. After 16 events, the Crimson emerged with six first-place finishes and sent resounding ripples through the Ivy League, establishing its place in the upper echelons of the conference.
The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team (4-0, 4-0 Ivy) concluded the day in Providence, R.I. with victories over both Penn (4-5, 3-4) and Brown (3-3, 2-3) to maintain its perfect dual meet season. The Crimson bested the Quakers, 197-100. The contest against the Bears was closer, but Harvard again proved faster in the water, edging out Brown, 166-134. The team returned to dual meet action after Texas Swimming and UGA Invitationals in early December.
“I think during [our] training trip we had a lot of time to bond we each other,” junior Meagan Popp said. “I think that elevated our ability to be there for our teammates, be there behind the blocks, knowing what people needed before their races., and I think the team camaraderie was elevated at this meet compared to past meets just because we know each other so much better now.”
The Crimson especially dominated the diving events. In both one meter and three meter diving, the Harvard diving cohort of seniors Hannah Allchurch, Jing Leung, and Alisha Mah and junior Mikaela Thompson swept the top four places in one meter diving and the top three in three meter diving. Mah took the one meter diving with 293.70 points and Allchurch posted the best score in three meter diving with 318.83 points.
“We’re really good at cheering within our team,” Mah said, “and I think just being able to translate what we do in practice to what we did in the pool, that’s all we really needed. It wasn’t a hard transition because we’ve been doing this since the beginning of training trip. We’ve really been pushing ourselves, and it was nice to see that all show.”
Senior captain Kristina Li placed first overall in both the 100-yard and the 200-yard backstroke. In the 100-yard backstroke, Li outtouched teammate sophomore Mei Lynn Colby by a fraction of a second with a time of 56.47. In the 200-yard backstroke, Li edged out Brown sophomore Sarah Welch and touched the wall in 2:01.26.
The 200-yard medley relay began the meet on a high note for Harvard, as a unit of Colby, freshman Ingrid Wall, junior Brittany Usinger, and sophomore Miki Dahlke finished almost two seconds ahead of the rest of the field with a finish of 1:42.54.
In the 1000-yard freestyle, freshman Michelle Owens swam a 58.70 for her first 100 and a 59.57 for her last 100 en route to a first place finish in 10:14.19, a little over more than a second faster than Quakers junior Erin Kiely.
The Crimson displayed great depth throughout the meet, earning top places even when first place proved elusive. In the 500-yard freestyle, Owens and fellow freshman Kennidy Quist took second and third overall with times of 4:59.81 and 5:01.60 respectively, and junior Claire Pinson finished close behind in 5:02.66. In the 200-yard breaststroke, Popp and freshman Yegher finished second and third overall, and senior captain Geordie Enoch finished fifth.
“I’m improving on my mid-season times and just working on my race plans and … working on technique things that I really want to perfect before Ivies and HYP,” Popp said.
With a pivotal tri-meet with Princeton and Yale looming and the exciting Ivy League championships close behind, Harvard must remain as focused as ever.
“The way we tackle this is that we try to make every meet count, every event count, and especially meets like Ivies, it’s one meet at a time,” Mah said. “The nice thing about Ivies is that we’re all there and we’re all focused on each other, and that’s what we’re going to go off of, feeding off each other’s energy, really being focused within ourselves, and just have fun with it. Honestly, that’s the best part of it. It’s not necessarily the end result, it’s all about the process, and we’ve seen that process happen and seeing a season’s worth of work pay off.”
—Staff writer Leon K. Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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