Men's Swimming & Diving Teams Set for 2012 Ivy League Championships
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PRINCETON, N.J. -- Princeton's DeNunzio Pool plays host the 2012 Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships from March 1-3 in Princeton, N.J.
Since 1973, either Princeton or Harvard have won each and every Ivy League men's swimming and diving championships title. The Tigers have taken the past three and five of the last six, but the Crimson look to reclaim the title for the first time since 2008, and the other six squads hope a team other than Princeton or Harvard finish on top for the first time since Yale won the championships in 1972.
Princeton and Harvard are ranked first and second in the latest CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major poll, while Columbia comes in at No. 14 and Dartmouth is No. 21.
The Tigers have won the last four championships they hosted (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010), and will prove to be a formidable opponent in 2012. Princeton holds the top times this season in a League-high 10 events and the second-best times in 11 events, which also leads the conference. Harvard is second in both categories, as the Crimson posted the top times in six events and the second-fastest times in five events.
Princeton senior Jonathan Christensen and Penn senior Brendan McHugh close out their impressive careers with a final opportunity to best the other in several events. In 2011, Christensen got the better of McHugh in the 200-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley, while McHugh downed Christensen in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Christensen hopes to become a three-time champion in the 200-yard IM, but he will have to not only overcome McHugh but also Harvard freshman Chuck Katis, who has the fastest time this season (1:47.06), just ahead of Christensen (1:47.41). The Princeton senior has also won two of the past three 200-yard breaststroke titles, but he ranks second in that event behind McHugh, who boasts the 16th-fastest time in the nation (1:56.16).
McHugh won the 100-yard breaststroke in 2009 and 2011, finishing in 53.66 last season. He already broke his personal record with a League-best time of 53.04, which also ranks 10th in the country. But Christensen took the title in 2010 and ranks second this season with a time of 53.58, just ahead of Katis, who is third with a time of 54.29.
In the relay events, Princeton has a chance to win four-straight titles in three different events, namely the 200 and 800-yard freestyle relays as well as the 400-yard medley relay. No team in Ivy League history has ever won its fourth-straight title in four separate events in the same year.
The task will not be easy for the Tigers. Princeton posted the fastest time in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:21.02), but Harvard has the best 800-yard freestyle relay time by more than a second ahead of the Tigers (6:37.48), as well as best time in the 400-yard medley relay by more than four seconds over Princeton (3:11.26).
The Crimson placed second in both the 400 and 800-yard freestyle relays in 2011 and returns all of its swimmers in the 800 and all but one in the 400.
In 2011, not only did Dartmouth's Nejc Zupan become the first Big Green swimmer to win either the 1,000-yard or 1,650-yard freestyle events, but he took both. Now, the sophomore can become the first Dartmouth swimmer to win back-to-back titles in either event. However, Zupan will have to beat Princeton sophomore Paul Noelle, who ranks first this season in both events, amongst other challengers.
After watching the 50 and 100-yard freestyles go to Columbia's Adam Powell the past two seasons, the field is wide open in 2012. In the 50-yard freestyle, 12 swimmers posted times within a second of the leader, Princeton freshman Harrison Wagner (19.91), who also has the season's best time in the 100-yard freestyle (43.99). But Harvard sophomore Oliver Lee, last year's runner-up, ranks third this season and looks to move to the top spot on the podium.
Columbia also graduated Hyun Lee, who took the 2011 titles in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyles. Princeton's Nolle, who placed second in the 1,000-yard freestyle last season, holds the best time in both the 500 and 1,000-free events in 2012.
Princeton senior Colin Cordes has his sights set on the 200-yard freestyle, after finishing in second each of the past two seasons. He also has a chance to win three-straight 200-yard backstroke titles, a feat no Tiger has accomplished since Dan Veatch won the last of his three in 1986.
Yale senior Goksu Bicer won the 2011 100-yard butterfly in 48.18 but must hold off Brown sophomore Tommy Glenn in 2012. Glenn leads the League this season with a 47.57 in that event.
Glenn placed second in the 200-yard butterfly in 2011 and holds the top times in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly (1:45.69) in 2012. He looks to become the first Bear to win in either event since Charles Brown took back-to-back 100-yard butterfly titles in 1998-99. No Brown swimmer has ever won the 200-yard butterfly. Yale ranks second in each event this season, as Bicer posted a 48.98 in the 100 and freshman Alwin Firmansyah recorded a time of 1:47.04 in the 200.
Harvard freshman Michael Mosca leads both diving categories, recording a score of 363.80 in the one-meter and 394.80 in the three-meter. Crimson junior Michael Stanton ranks third and eighth in the three-meter and one-meter, respectively, and looks to take his second title in each event. Stanton won the one-meter in 2011 and placed first in the three-meter in 2010. But Penn senior Jeff Cragg, who ranks second in both diving events this season, hopes to win his first-career Ivy League title.
At the 2011 Championship, Princeton held off a captivating late charge by Harvard to claim its third-consecutive Ivy League title, edging the Crimson by just 5.5 points. It marked the closest finish in championship meet history. The previous mark was eight points, which happened twice, in 1974 (Princeton 419, Harvard 411) and 1978 (Princeton 364, Harvard 356).
The Tigers claimed the 2012 dual season Ivy League title on the strength of a 7-0 mark in League meets and will thus be awarded the EISL Men's Swimming and Diving Trophy at the 2012 Ivy League Championships. Harvard placed second with a 6-1 mark versus League opponents. But Yale (5-2), Columbia (4-3) and Penn (3-4) each had at least three wins and Dartmouth added a pair. In fact, the Big Green, which went 2-5 in the League this season, totaled multiple Ivy League dual season wins for the first time since 2003-04 when it went 3-6.
With many veterans looking to leave a lasting impressin and several newcomers striving for breakout performances, the 2012 Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships should be another exciting event that could, oce again, come down to the final relay.