Any matchup of Ancient Eight teams is full of anticipation and excitement. Any matchup between Harvard, Yale, and Princeton garners even more thrill. Such was the case over the weekend, as the Crimson, Bulldogs, and Tigers met at Blodgett Pool for an intense contest before Ivy League Championships, looming over the horizon on February 14.
“Harvard, Yale, Princeton has higher energy than other dual meets that we have, and also way more exciting because the competition is much more fierce,” senior captain Kristina Li said. “Racing at this dual meet was incredibly exciting. We had a lot of our alum come back to support us, and we had a lot of our parents come and men’s team members be in the stand, so we had a huge Harvard crowd cheering us on … and [this meet] got people really fired up to race at Ivies.”
Although Harvard (4-2, 4-2 Ivy) ultimately fell in dual contests to Yale (11-0, 7-0) and Princeton (9-3, 6-1), 162-138 and 177-123, respectively, the Crimson had many strong swimming and diving performances that highlighted the team’s potential to have a strong presence in the league meet in a couple of weeks.
In the very first race of the meet, the 200-yard medley relay, the Harvard’s A unit shattered the pool record set three years ago by Yale. The cohort of sophomore Mei Lynn Colby, freshman Ingrid Wall, junior Brittany Usinger, and sophomore Jerrica Li touched the wall in 1:39.78.
Colby’s winning ways were not done, as the Dallas, Texas, native emerged victorious in the 100-yard backstroke, out touching Tigers freshman Stephanie Nelson in 55.09. In the 50-yard freestyle, the sophomore finished third in a race in which Yale junior Bella Hindley broke a pool swam a record-breaking race in 22.43.
Another notable performance came at the hands of freshman Jaycee Yegher. The Crimson rookie broke a school record in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:11.72. Yegher out-touched sophomore Cha O’Leary by eight-hundredths of a second, a photo finish that ignited the pool. Sophomore Miki Dahlke added strong performances throughout the two-day meet. She finished second in the 100-yard freestyle in 50.38, third in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:49.05, and fifth in the 100-yard butterfly in 54.75.
Diving, which has been a dependable facet of the team throughout the whole season, unsurprisingly posted more strong performances. In three meter diving, senior Hannah Allchurch finished 316.60 points, more than 10 points than the rest of the field. Junior Mikaela Thompson finished in third with 297.00 points.
“This being my last year, I’ve been doing the same dives for a long time, and so really honing down on consistency and trusting that I know how to do these dives, and just to keep a calm head, both in practice and going into the competition,” Allchurch said. “I honestly just went in with the mentality that I know what I’m doing. I just want to have fun with my teammates. I want to be there to support them and give it my best shot, and thankfully it worked out.”
In the one meter diving event, the trio of Thompson and seniors Jing Leung and Alisha Mah took second through fourth within a 10 point spread of one another.
In the final event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Crimson’s A relay of Colby, Wall, Li, and Dahlke finished in 3:18.78, more than a second ahead of Yale’s top unit. As Dahlke touched the wall, her teammates and the crowd erupted.
“Our coach Stephanie Morawski, she always talks to us in the beginning, and one thing that she says is that every single person has a role, especially in Ivies, when only a certain amount of us can actually compete, the whole team still has it’s part to play, and so if maybe at some meets you’re not competing as well as you’d like to, you can’t get caught up in yourself because there’s still your whole team there,” Allchurch said. “Your role might switch, and it might be that time you’re going to be super loud and you’re going to get behind your teammates and make sure they have everything they need.”
The team now shifts its focus on the Ivy League Championships, in which the Ancient Eight will reconvene and battle it out once more at Blodgett Pool. Dual meets aside, the championship will test each team’s depth and grit.
“We definitely have a strategy going into the meet,” Li said. “I’m really confident in our team going forward because we do have a lot of depth. Every single person in the Ivy League Championships can score points. I think one of our strengths lies in the depth of our team. Dual meets and the Ivy League Championships are a little different because I think Ivies relies more on depth, so I’m excited to see what our team can pull out.”
—Staff writer Leon K. Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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