Women's Swimming Breaks Six Pool Records, but Falls at Columbia in Opener

The Crimson dropped its first meet of the 2013-14 season, but set six pool records along the way in the tightly contested battle. (Gil Talbot)

NEW YORK – The Harvard women's swimming team picked up nine event wins – and set six pool records -- against Ivy League rival Columbia, but it ultimately was not enough for the Crimson (0-1, 0-1 Ivy League) to overcome the Lions (1-0, 1-0 Ivy League) as the hosts dropped Harvard, 163.5-136.5 on Saturday.

The loss marks the first League defeat for the Crimson in two years as Columbia snapped Harvard's 14-meet win streak in the season opener.

"It was very well fought," said Stephanie Wriede Morawski, the Costin Family Head Coach for Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving. "We set six pool records, and I'm very proud of the fight in our team. We have our sights set on the Ivy Championships."

The 3-meter dive kicked off the 17-event slate, and Harvard dominated, led by Elina Leiviska's first place finish with her score of 285.16. Brittany Wang (272.93) and Alex Stanton (251.48) followed in third and fourth place, respectively.

Columbia brought the heat with the 200-yard medley relay, taking first and second place, setting the tone for the back-and-forth afternoon. Harvard's quartet of Danielle Lee, Stephanie Ferrell and Kendall Crawford finished in third, but were two seconds away from victory.

After Ashlee Korsberg smashed the competition by more than 13 seconds -- claiming the sixth fastest mile in the country -- in the lengthy 1650 free style to give Harvard another first place finish, Victoria Chan blistered the field with her win in the 200 free, besting Columbia's Salena Huang in second by more than five seconds for the fifth-fastest time in the country this year. Danielle Lee took the 100 backstroke in the fifth event of the day to give Harvard an impressive run of victories.

Columbia swam hard in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 butterfly, taking first, second and third place finishes in both events to climb back into the thick of things. The next two events saw Crimson wins as Victoria Chan bestedo Christina Ray by a narrow .40 to claim the 50 free, followed by another Leiviska win on the boards, this time with her 279.15 score in the 1-meter.

Sara Li's neck-and-neck tie with Lily Morris in the quick 100 free capped off an exciting 10th event of the day, and, coupled with Danielle Lee's 200 backstroke victory, seemed to give Harvard an increasingly crucial momentum swing. But the Lions got a win back with a 1-2-3 200 breaststroke finish.

In the 13th event, Ashlee Korsberg asserted her dominance in the lengthy swims with another first place finish, this time in the 500 free with her 4:55.08 time. But Columbia would go on to win the next three events – the 100 butterfly and the 200 and 400 IM, the latter of which was counted as an exhibition – to earn more points in the overall score. Li, Sarah Sumner, Daniela Johnson and Danielle Lee took a thorough win in the 400 freestyle relay to cap off the afternoon, but it was not enough as Columbia had enough points to swim to victory.

The Crimson return to the pool in a week's time as Harvard makes the short trek north to face Dartmouth and Cornell in Hanover, N.H.