Women's Swimming and Diving Teams Set for 2012 Ivy League Championships
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PRINCETON, N.J -- After an exciting regular season that saw team and pool records set, NCAA cut times met and historic streaks extended and snapped, the Ivy league women's swimming and diving teams converge on Harvard's Blodgett Pool for a three-day test of wills with the right to named the 2012 Ivy League Champion on the line.
The 2012 hosts from Harvard enter the Ivy League Championship as the regular-season champions for the first time since 2006, but the Crimson will not be without challengers. Princeton returns to the very same pool where its 43-dual meet-winning streak came to an end when Harvard bested the Tigers at the 2012 HYP event. But Princeton will be looking to finish atop the championship meet standings for the third-consecutive season, a feat last accomplished in the League when the Tigers did so in 2006-08.
The rest of the Ancient Eight will be looking to wrest the Ivy title away from the Crimson and Tigers, who have won the event each year since Brown claimed the 1999 title. With many talented squads full of some young swimmers, the points towards the overall standings should be hard to come by and the meet could come down to Saturday night's final races.
Columbia will be carrying all kinds of momentum into the event, as the Lions won their last six meets of the season including the program's first ever win over Princeton on Feb. 10, led by junior Katie Meili's three individual wins. Columbia also enters the event knowing that it finished third last season, the Lions' best showing since 2008.
Penn has finished fourth at the last three Championships and carries 6-6 dual season mark in the Championships, as it tries to work up the standings. The Big Green finished the 2011-12 dual meet season with a 7-4 overall record and a 3-3 mark against Ivy League foes. The three Ivy wins for Dartmouth marks its highest League win total since going 4-5 in 1994-95 (when the standings still included dual meet results versus Army and Navy).
Yale, Brown and Cornell also had many highlights throughout the 2011-12 season, and with Brown and Cornell each scoring an Ivy win in the dual season and Yale adding three, all eight Ivy teams head to the 2012 Championships with at least one Ivy dual win for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
As with every Ivy League Championship, some of the individual races are sure to thrill as many rivalries have developed over the last few seasons and depending on how the coaches decide to fill out their race cards, many swimmers could be in position to reclaiming previously won Ivy League titles.
Penn's Shelby Fortin was the breakout star of last season's event when she won the 200-free, the 500-free and the 1,000-free as a freshman, becoming Penn's first Ivy League champion in the 500 and 1,000-free.
Sophomore Kristi Edleson could be back to defend her title in the 1,650-free as she also captured Penn's first title in that event a season ago.
Columbia's Meili enters 2012 as the defending champion in the 200 IM and could be looking to defend her title and make a mark on several other races. Her name litters the Ivy League's top-five times list of the 2011-12 season, including top marks in the 200-breast (2:13.58) and the 200 IM (2:01.37).
Brown will turn to sophomore Briana Borgolini to try and move up the leader board. At last season's Championships, she finished as the runner-up in the 100-breast and this season carries top-three times in both the 100 and 200-breast into the Championships.
Princeton has many stars to rely on heading into the Championship event, though it will have to account for the points that 2011 three-time Ivy League champion Megan Waters took with her when she graduated last spring. But a now veteran group of senior Meredith Monroe, junior Carter Stephens as well as sophomores Lisa Boyce and Maureen McCotter will provide a strong core in the Tigers' title defense.
In the 100-back, Boyce set the meet-record in last year's prelims and went on to win the finals as well. But in what could shape up to be one of the highlight races of this year's Championship, 2010 champion Chiara Spinazzola of Cornell could be amongst a group of challengers that could also include Princeton's Monroe and Harvard senior Meghan Leddy, as well as Brown sophomore Catie Pittman. In fact, Boyce, Spinazzola and Monroe own nine of the top-15 all-time best times in the event at the Ivy Championships, with Boyce and Spinazzola owning the top-four marks.
Having captured the 2009 and 2011 200-back Ivy titles, Harvard's Leddy will be looking to become the fourth swimmer in League history to win the race at least three times, and the first to do so since 1996 when Yale's Melissa Dalrymple won the last of her three 200-back titles. But Princeton's Monroe will also be looking to duplicate success in the 200-back, as she took home the 2010 title. Monroe and Leddy may be headed to an exciting showdown reminiscent of last season's underlying duel between Princeton's Waters and 2011 High Point Swimmer Kate Mills of Harvard - albeit in the back events as opposed to freestyle.
Yale junior Alex Forrester is set to return to the Ivy League Championships at the site of her many triumphs as a freshman in the 2010 event, where she captured the 50-free, the 100-fly and the 200-fly.
In the 200-fly, Forrester could be up for her third title, but some of the competition could come from two-time defending champion and teammate Hayes Hyde, who won the title in 2009 and then again as a junior in 2011. Overall, the veteran-laden Bulldogs will be looking to make a move at the Championships as Forrester and Hyde combine with junior Molly Albrecht and seniors Joan Weaver and Athena Laio for a well-balanced group.
But just as many veterans will shine at the 2012 Championships, there will surely be several freshmen and sophomores will make major contributions to their respective teams' title pushes and capture individual races - just as Fortin was able to do last season. One team that may benefit most from a strong freshman class is Harvard as Sarah Sumner (23.46 in the 50-free and 51.05 in the 100-free), Faith Martin (50.70 in the 100-free, 1:49.01 in the 200-free, 2:15.68 in the 200-breast, 2:01.39 in the 200 IM and 4:20.02 in the 400 IM), Kelsey Hojan Clark (4:47.04 in the 500-free, 9:51.32 in the 1,000-free and 16:34.54 in the 1,650-free), Courtney Otto (4:53.14 in the 500-free, 9:57.72 in the 1,000 free), Stephanie Ferrell (1:02.64 in the 100-breast and 2:15.52 in the 200-breast) and Ana Anaya (54.85 in the 100-fly and 2:0.23 in the 200-fly) have posted many top-five Ivy League times this season.
But there are other freshmen sure to impact the championships beyond the Crimson roster, including the Columbia duo of Salena Huang (50.61 in the 100-free, 1:48.72 in the 200-free, 4:53.37 in the 500-free) and Cha Cha Bugatte (4:52.16 in the 500-free, 9:57.58 in the 1,000-free and 16:49.95 in the 1,650-free). Brown's Kendall Williams (1:01.27in the 100-breast) and Princeton's Shirley Wang (2:00.18 in the 200-back) will also be aiming to make their presences felt at their first League Championship.
Valuable points will also be on the line in the diving events. In one-meter, Princeton sophomore Rachel Zambrowicz will be looking to defend her title. Last year as a freshman, Zambrowicz also finished third on the one-meter boards en route to claiming High Point Diver of the Meet honors at the 2011 Championships. Seniors Erica Serpico of Dartmouth (one-meter in 2010) and Rachel Rosenberg (three-meter in 2010) of Yale also have Ivy Championships on their resumes, and will be trying to add to those totals. Among the many others also figuring to be in the mix are Princeton senior Christina Kirkwood and Dartmouth sophomore Katy Feng, who were two of five divers to crack the top-eight on both sets of boards at last season's championships.
With so many fast swimmers, it is sure to be an exciting championship that will feature breakout stars, impressive performances by many upperclassmen and who knows? Many a few Championship meet or League records will fall en route to deciding which team gets to refer to themselves as the 2012 Ivy League Champion.