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Men’s Swimming and Diving topples Yale, falls to Harvard at HYP meet

<h6>Shelley Szwast / goprincetontigers.com</h6>
Shelley Szwast / goprincetontigers.com

The Princeton men’s swimming and diving team pushed through a wintry trek up to Yale’s Kiphuth Exhibition Pool this past weekend for the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton (HYP) tri-meet. The Tigers put up a solid performance to cap off their dual-meet season, besting Yale 189.50–163.50 but falling short of Harvard 228–125. The results bring Princeton to a 7–1 record in Ivy League play, with Harvard as the sole loss.

Though the team had hoped for a go at Harvard, the results are a strong showing coming out of the challenging winter training period which saw the team return to campus on Dec. 27, nearly a month before the rest of the student body.

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“We are pleased to wrap up dual meets with a solid win over Yale and a 7–1 record,” said Head Coach Matt Crispino. “Harvard is a very good team, but we look forward to another shot at them in February. The Ivy League championship is the focal point of our season and all our training since the fall has been geared toward peaking four weeks from now.”

Indeed, Ivy League championships — at home from Feb. 23–26 — will bring an electrifying home-pool advantage at DeNunzio Pool, and the Tigers will be finely tuned for the competition. Swimming in particular demands seasonal adjustments in training that mean punishing training periods followed by weeks of taper, or reduced training load, that prepares athletes for high-caliber races. Taper increases power in the water, allowing swimmers to fine-tune their technique, and readies their minds for racing. The Princeton Tigers will experience this process over the coming weeks, setting them up for a better shot against Harvard at the end of February.

Despite coming up short of Harvard, the meet at Kiphuth showcased excellent swims and dives across the board and a particularly strong effort to get the upper hand over the Yale Bulldogs.

The 4x50 Freestyle Relay kicked off the swimming events, with a third-place finish from the A Relay of sophomore Brian Lou, senior Nathan Yates, first-year Brett Feyerick, and sophomore Nicholas Lim. Feyerick had an especially first-rate swim, splitting 19.56, the fastest of the Tiger relay.

After fourth- and sixth-place finishes in the 200 Freestyle (headlined by Harvard’s dominant Dean Farris), a strong third-place finish in the 100 Backstroke from first-year Tyler Hong, and close four-five touches from Lou and junior Joshua Brown in the 100 Breaststroke, Princeton topped the podium for the first time in the 200 Butterfly, with junior Captain Raunak Khosla finishing first in a dominant 1:43.49, almost a second and a half ahead of Harvard’s Jacob Johnson.

The Tigers met headwinds in the 50 Freestyle, taking eighth and ninth behind speedy Harvard and Yale efforts. The event was especially robust, with nine swimmers seeded under 20 seconds.

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The Tigers roared back to take gold in the 200 Individual Medley (IM). Khosla again took first with a commanding 1:45.43.  He capped off the race in trademark fashion, powering through an impressive back-half effort, besting Harvard’s Gunner Grant by 1.47 and 1.74 seconds, respectively, on the breaststroke and freestyle legs into the finish, getting to the wall 1.85 seconds ahead of the field (1:47.28). Khosla’s victory displayed his Ivy League dominance in breaststroke and final-leg IM endurance. Hong also finished fourth in 1:47.75, within half a second of Grant and Harvard’s Michael Zarian.

Junior Dylan Porges, the team’s leading distance swimmer, pushed through a punishing 1650 Freestyle to take first in 15:09.11. After a grueling 64 laps of a more-or-less dead heat, the race came down to the final two lengths. Porges, pushing off behind Harvard’s Shane Washart, exploded in a stunning final 50-yard effort to get to the wall 0.31 seconds ahead. His final 50 split was 25.39 — 0.79 seconds faster than Washart’s 26.18.

In the second relay of the meet, a strong Princeton A 4x100 Medley Relay placed second. Hong, Khosla, Lim, and junior Max Walther comprised the team. The Harvard effort was particularly robust, with a time of 3:07.34, with only Walther outsplitting his Crimson counterpart.

The Tigers placed second in the 4x50 Medley Relay as well, with Hong, Brown, Lim, and Lou putting up excellent swims to outtouch a chasing Yale A Relay by 0.06 seconds. Harvard once again put up a very strong medley relay performance, outsplitting all Princeton swimmers on the relay.

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Khosla returned to the top of the podium yet again in the 400 IM, finishing first in a blistering 3:48.52, a whopping five seconds ahead of Harvard’s Michael Zarian. Khosla crushed the field in the breaststroke leg, beating Zarian by more than four seconds in the third leg of the race.

Princeton found sprint success in the 100 Freestyle, where Walther placed second in 44.02, right at his personal best of 43.99. In the 200 Backstroke that followed, Hong placed third in 1:46.12, a strong finish. Lim placed fourth in the succeeding 100 Butterfly, outtouching Harvard’s Aayush Deshpande by 0.04 seconds. Princeton then went six-seven in the 500 Freestyle, with Porges finishing just ahead of sophomore John Ehling.

Khosla returned for more glory, winning the 200 Breaststroke in 1:56.09, setting a Yale pool record in the process. In an outstanding second-half effort, Khosla pulled ahead of Harvard’s Jared Simpson, thrashing him by over a second in both of the final two legs after a deficit from the opening two laps. With his magisterial 200 Breaststroke performance, Khosla sealed the deal as the standout star of HYP; he won all four of his individual events and set a pool record.

In the final relay of the meet, the 4x100 Freestyle Relay, the Tigers placed third in 2:56.40, with Brown, Lou, junior Jonathan Pollock, and Walther making up the A Team.

Throughout the meet, the divers also put up a solid performance. They took second and third in the 1-meter dive, with first-year Taso Callanan placing second in 340.15 and senior Colten Young placing third with 334.95. In the 3-meter dive, Taso Callanan placed third with a score of 355.60, Young placed fourth with 351.20, and first-year George Callanan placed fifth with 343.65.  

“Overall, it was a very strong performance from the team,” said Walther. “It is always difficult to go on the road and face our two strongest competitors in the league, but I think we managed that well. Raunak Khosla was the standout performer with four event wins, but the entire team showed how deep we are, which will be key at the Ivy championships in three weeks.”

This HYP was also special for the team’s seniors, coming off the heels of a victorious senior meet against Navy. 

“It was the last dual meet for our four seniors: Quinn Rademaker, Colin Reilly, Nathan Yates, and Colten Young,” said Walther. “[They all had] strong performances in the pool and on the diving boards.”

The team looks forward to the four weeks ahead as it prepares to host Ivies in DeNunzio on Feb. 23–26. Stay tuned for an exciting meet.

Nolan Musslewhite is a senior sports writer at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers swimming. He can be reached at nmusslewhite@princeton.edu.

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