Men’s swimming and diving extended its perfect start to the season as it beat Yale this past Saturday, 164-136.
The win comes after the teams battled to a close finish a season ago, when the Bulldogs gave the Lions all they could handle during 2017 Ivy League Championships and finished in fourth place, just one place ahead of the Light Blue.
Heading into the weekend, head coach Jim Bolster assumed the Lions (3-0, 2-0 Ivy) were fated to lose at least five events due to returning Yale superstars Kei Hyogo, who has dominated in the 1,000 freestyle and 200 butterfly, and Aaron Greenberg, who specializes in the 50 freestyle. Greenberg led in the 50 free, shooting through the water to finish with a 19.96, while Hyogo roped in two golds with an impressive 9:12.92 in the 1,000 free and a 1:48.03 in the 200 fly.
“I knew with Kei Hyogo they were going to win [the 1,000 free], but the fact that we went two, three, and four made the difference worth only one point,” Bolster noted. “They got 10 [points] and we got nine [points]. That limited the damage that this guy, Hyogo, would wreck on us. It worked out very well.”
Despite Hyogo and Greenberg’s dominance, the Lions performed well, winning nine of 16 events and giving away the last two events of the meet after it was decided in their favor.
After last week’s strong performance, the diving duo of first-year Jon Suckow and senior Jayden Pantel finished first and second in both the three-meter and one-meter springboards, with Suckow earning sky high scores of 425.85 and 380.93, respectively.
Another dynamic pair for the Light Blue was senior Michal Zyla and sophomore Cole Stevens in the 100 and 200 backstroke events. Both California natives continued to sweep gold and silver finishes—Zyla claimed both victories with times of 49.20 and 1:47.37, respectively. Zyla is acting as a moving puzzle piece for the Lions as they continue to develop their Ivy League roster, but Stevens’ improvement in the off-season has allowed the pair to cruise through the backstroke events thus far in the season.
The Light Blue’s true powerhouse is its core of breaststrokers. Senior Jace Ng, a transfer from Santa Monica College in California, made his debut for the Lions and shutout the Bulldogs from any podium finishes in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.13, followed by senior Jae Park, first-year Eric Tong, and junior Jack Smith.
Park took the gold in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:01.78 finish as Smith hit the wall with a 2:02.77. This breaststroke contingent holds a lot of promise for the Light Blue—the swimmers are currently poised as serious contenders for the 2018 Ivy League Championships later this season.
The Lions made quick work of the Bulldogs this past weekend, but they will face the defending Ivy League Champion, Harvard, this Friday.
“They’re a team that’s very talented and very well-balanced,” Bolster stated. “They have a lot of front-line strength and they have a lot of depth. … It’ll be a good meet for us in that we have nothing to lose. It’s a chance for us to race against the team that I think will be the Ivy Champs.”
After a strong start to the season, Bolster will look to use the meet against Harvard to strategically place the Lions in some of their off events as he continues to assess which swimmers will race in the 2018 Ivy League Championships in February.
The Light Blue will take on the Crimson this Friday at 3:00 p.m. in Uris Pool for its last meet at home before the start of the spring semester.