At Columbia, men’s swim remains undefeated, women drop season’s first meet| December 11, 2018
In a split weekend for the swimming and diving program, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams traveled to New York for meets with the Columbia Lions. The Princeton women narrowly lost in Percy Uris Natatorium on Friday, dropping to 6–1 on the season (4–1 Ivy), and the men continued their unbeaten run on Saturday to climb to 6–0 (4–0 Ivy).
From the onset, the women struggled to top the field in individual events. Sophomore Lauren McGrath, first-year Julia Brazeau, and first-year Cathy Teng placed second in the 1000-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard butterfly, respectively. However, no Tiger finished first until the ninth event. By the time sophomore Sophia Peifer won the 1-meter diving event with a score of 282.98, Columbia (3–2, 2–2) had opened up a 46-point lead.
Peifer’s win sparked a run for the Tigers. Immediately after, Teng won the 100-yard freestyle in 51.27. Her performance was followed by first-place finishes from sophomore Stephanie Nelson in the 200-yard backstroke (2:02.06) and junior Shaelyn Choi in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:21.10), capping a stretch of four events that brought Princeton back within 20 points.
Despite a narrow first-place finish by junior Elaine Zhou in the 100-yard butterfly (57.07) and strong second-place performances from sophomore Courtney Tseng in the 500-yard freestyle and Joanna Curry in the 200-yard individual medley, the Princeton women were unable to complete the comeback. Columbia beat out the Tigers’ A-team of Teng, Zhao, first-year Vivian Wang, and senior Izzy Reis in the 200-yard freestyle relay by 0.19 seconds to close out the day, building on the Lions’ lead to bring the final score to 160–140.
Princeton’s underclassmen once again showed their promise, with Teng, Peifer, and Nelson each finishing first in one of their events and in the top four for their other event.
The Tigers’ fight and persistence in the second half of the meet were lauded by head coach Bret Lundgaard following the loss, according to GoPrincetonTigers.com. Lundgaard did not respond to a request for comment.
The next day, the men’s meet with Columbia (1–4, 0–4) saw Princeton swimmers atop the podium early and often. The first victory for the Tigers came three events in, when sophomore Levy Nathan scorched the field for a five-second victory in the 1000-yard freestyle (9:23.46).
Senior Murphy McQuet followed this with a come-from-behind win of his own in the 200-yard freestyle (1:37.73), and fellow senior Cole Buese took second in the 100-yard backstroke. Senior Tyler Lin kept the streak of strong performances going with a 56.79 in the 100-yard breaststroke, good for another first-place finish.
First-year Raunak Khosla continued his strong first season in the 200-yard butterfly, leading the lot with a time of 1:49.09. Senior Christian Feiler led first-year Nathan Yates in a 2–3 finish in the 50-yard freestyle, and McQuet and Feiler did the same in the 100-yard freestyle. Lin continued a stellar individual performance with his second victory of the day, winning the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:05.05, and Nathan followed suit, topping the heap in the 500-yard freestyle (4:33.61).
Khosla added another win to the team total, taking the 200-yard individual medley in 1:51.10, before the team of sophomore Joshua Brown, Feiler, Lin, and McQuet closed out the meet with a winning time of 3:01.74 in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Princeton’s 161.5–138.5 victory was largely the result of the resilience of a “far from perfect” team, assistant coach Doug Lennox ’09 said in an email on Tuesday.
“We have a lot of guys who are willing and able to step up for the team. This gives us strong depth and allows us to compete with teams that have some really impressive top-end talent,” Lennox wrote on behalf of head coach Rob Orr.
This seems to have been effective thus far, as the men will take a perfect record into the New Year. However, Ivy League rivals Harvard (4–0, 3–0) and Yale (2–0, 1–0) boast the same winning percentage at this point in the season. The three teams will square off in the annual HYP meet in Cambridge, Mass., in February.
“Quite frankly, we are underdogs on paper, and we need to bring a lot of grit, passion and joy to Cambridge if we expect to challenge them in the pool,” Lennox said of the meet against the conference foes.
Before then, the men swim next against Navy (9–1) in DeNunzio Pool on Jan. 5. The women enjoy a slightly longer hiatus, with their next meet falling on Jan. 11 at Rutgers (5–0).