Season Outlook: Harvard Looks to Keep Rolling in 2009-10

Season Outlook: Harvard Looks to Keep Rolling in 2009-10

The Crimson dives into the new season Saturday in central New York (photo courtesy

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team set a new program standard for success in 2008-09, winning the Ivy League and ECAC team championships, setting 11 school records and finishing the season ranked 25th nationally.

Often, that kind of season comes with the price of a large class of graduating seniors. The Crimson’s championship squad, however, lost just one member of its Ivy-title squad and one athlete from its ECAC squad to graduation. With so much talent back at Blodgett Pool and a class of talented freshmen added to the mix, Harvard is poised for more success in 2009-10.

“We are very excited to begin where we left off last season,” said Stephanie Wriede Morawski ’92, the Costin Family Head Coach for Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving. “After winning two championships in one weekend, the team is focused, positive and training very hard.”

In addition to its training, Harvard met Boston College in a scrimmage meet. The Crimson will look to make that hard work pay off starting Saturday, when it visits Ithaca, N.Y., for its annual clash with host Cornell and Dartmouth.

With new NCAA and FINA rules banning the high-tech suits that have been used in recent years, times across college swimming will not be as fast, but the competition will be just as fierce. Harvard will look to build on some already-impressive marks from last season: a 6-1 dual-meet record, six Ivy League event championships and two representatives at the NCAA Championships. The Crimson will also seek to continue its climb up the national polls.

Here’s a stroke-by-stroke look at the Harvard squad:

The Crimson is led in and out of the water by senior co-captain Alexandra Clarke. The three-time NCAA Championships qualifier is the school record-holder in the 500-, 1,000- and 1,1650-yard freestyles. She led a dominant corps of Harvard distance swimmers last year, and the group returns in its entirety this season.

Clarke won the 1,000, placed second in the 1,650 and took fourth in the 500 at the Ivy League Championships and in each race was joined in the top five by three teammates. Christine Kaufmann was second in the 1,000 and third in the 500 and 1,650, while Katie Faulkner was third in the 1,000 and fourth in the 1,650. Catherine Zagroba took fifth in the 500 and 1,650, and Kristi Korsberg took that position in the 1,000.

Harvard’s depth also showed at the shorter distances. Kate Mills, the Ivy runner-up at 500 yards, won the 200 free, with Zagroba taking third place and Laura Murray fourth. In the 100 free, Ali Slack, Katy Hinkle and Katherine Pickard all finished in the top six, while Hinkle and Slack placed third and sixth, respectively in the 50. Hinkle, Pickard and Mills all hold freestyle school records.

Mills also owns the school record in the 200 butterfly and shares the 100 fly record with teammate Sophie Morgan. Mills competed in the 200 fly, 200 free and 500 free at the 2009 NCAA Championships, her second appearance at the national meet in as many collegiate seasons.

Morgan was the runner-up in both butterfly races at 2009 Ivies. Slack took fifth in the 100, while Korsberg was fifth in the 200.

Harvard returns the Ivy League champions in both backstrokes. Hinkle won the 100 back, two spots ahead of then-rookie Meghan Leddy, who claimed the 200 back title. Both athletes won their respective championships in school-record time. Margaret Fish joined Leddy in the 200 final, placing seventh.

The Crimson showed promise in both breaststrokes, placing freshmen in both races at last year’s Ivy League Championships. Helen Pitchik and Victoria Pratt placed sixth and eighth, respectively, in both the 100 and 200 breast.

Individual Medley
Mills and Pickard return as holders of the 200 and 400 IM school records, respectively. Pickard earned a spot in both Ivy IM finals, taking second place in the 400. Kay Foley, a senior co-captain this season, placed fifth in the 400, one place ahead of Korsberg. Morawski will have plenty of other options in the IM races, as four qualifiers for the 200 IM B final also return this season.

The Harvard roster boasts seven divers. Leslie Rea made the final in each Ivy diving event, and she was joined in the one-meter final by Jenny Reese. Juniors Reese and Marissa Ash both won event titles during the dual season, and Jessica Stanchfield was a key cog in the Crimson’s ECAC run with two runner-up finishes. Diving coach Keith Miller has added three freshmen to the mix in 2009-10.

The Crimson’s depth could lead to more success in team races as well as individual ones. Harvard won two Ivy League relay titles, in the 200 and 800 free, and placed in the top three in the other three relays last season. Harvard set school records in the 400 and 800 free relays, and three of the four swimmers who set the 200 free relay record in 2008 are still on campus.