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Women's Swimming and Diving Sets Sights on Second Straight Ivy Title

Pictured: The women's swimming and diving team looks to defend its Ivy title starting Thursday.
Photo Courtesy: David Silverman


The Particulars

The Harvard women’s swimming and diving team looks to defend its title as it hosts the 2010 Ivy League Championships at Blodgett Pool. The meet is a three-day event that runs from Thursday through Saturday, with preliminaries beginning at 11 a.m., and finals starting at 6 p.m., each day of competition. Harvard will also send a squad of swimmers to Pittsburgh, Pa., Friday through Sunday to defend its ECAC Championships title.

Last Year’s Meet
The Crimson amassed 1,583.5 points to claim its ninth league championship and halt Princeton from capturing its fourth-straight Ivy title at Nassau County Aquatic Center. Harvard bested the Tigers by 249.5 points as Princeton finished with 1,334 points while Yale also totaled a four-digit score, finishing third with 1,038 points.

Four Crimson swimmers, all of whom are back in 2010, took home individual event wins, fronted by Alexandra Clarke’s school-record victory in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Meghan Leddy earned her first Ivy title with a school-record performance in the 200 backstroke and Katy Hinkle captured the win in the 100 back. Kate Mills wrapped up the individual event wins by taking the 200 free, and Harvard also captured the title in the 200 and 800 free relays.

History Lesson
The Ivy League women’s swimming and diving championships were first contested in 1977 with Princeton taking the inaugural meet title. A league meet determined the champion from 1977-1982 and has determined the Ancient Eight title since 1997, but from 1983-1996, the league crown was determined by regular season competition. The Tigers lead all participating schools with 16 team titles, followed by Brown (seven), Harvard (six), and Yale (one). Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn have yet to capture a league title. Harvard and Princeton have combined to capture the last ten Ivy titles.

Scouting the Field

The Princeton Tigers finished the dual season as the top team in the Ivy standings, compiling a perfect 7-0 record in league dual meets this season. At 6-1, Harvard enters the championships having finished the dual season in second place, ahead of Yale (5-2), Columbia (4-3), Penn (3-4), Cornell (2-5), Brown (1-6) and Dartmouth (0-7).

The Crimson and Tigers enter the meet with a number of top-ranked swimmers in both the relay and individual events. Harvard boasts the top-seeded 200 freestyle relay team, and three of the top five 500 freestyle swimmers in Clarke, Mills and Catherine Zagroba. Princeton’s Alicia Aemisegger enters the meet as the top-ranked swimmer in seven individual events, after taking home the Swimmer of the Meet award as a junior at the 2009 Ivy Championships. Yale is only other school with top-seeded swimmers at the 2010 event, receiving the top seed in the 400 freestyle relay, as well as the 200 breaststroke and 100 butterfly.

ECAC Title Holders
Harvard will also be sending a crew of swimmers to the ECAC Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa., this weekend. In 2009, the Crimson totaled the most points in the 26-team field, topping second place Rider by 24 points to capture the victory. Harvard will be looking for its third title in four years as it captured the 2007 crown as well.

Topping the Charts
After finishing the dual season at 6-1, Harvard is receiving national recognition for its success. The Crimson is ranked first in the nation in the most recent CollegeSwimming.com national “mid-major” rankings.

Harvard ranks first with a score of 248.6 power points, two points ahead of second-place Miami (Ohio). Points are determined using a formula based on each team’s top lineup and those athletes’ times this season. The Crimson is one of just three teams with more than 240 points in the poll as Boston University sits in third with 244.1. Navy (236.0) and Florida Gulf Coast (234.5) round out the top five teams in the poll.

Cross-Town Tune-Up
Harvard captured 10 of 11 events in an un-scored meet against Northeastern Feb. 12 at Blodgett Pool. The meet consisted of mostly relays and served as a tune-up for the Ivy League Championships.

The Crimson started by taking the 3x50 yard butterfly relay with a time of 1:19.38 and followed with wins in the 3x50 yard backstroke relay (1:22.72), the 3x50 yard breaststroke relay (1:34.55) and the 3x50 yard freestyle relay (1:14.28). Brittany Powell and Jenny Reese combined for a win in the one and three meter diving competitions and Alexandra Clarke won the 1,000 yard freestyle.

Harvard followed with wins in the 3x100 yard medley relay (3:01.38), the 3x100 yard freestyle relay (2:46.24) and the 200 yard medley relay (1:50.69).

Dual Success
With a victory over Yale at the Jan. 30 HYP meet, the Crimson secured a second-place finish in the Ivy dual standings, marking the fourth-straight season Harvard has finished with a 6-1 record in league dual meets. The result brings head coach Stephanie Wriede Morawski's all-time dual meet mark to 91-21 and 71-19 in the Ancient Eight.

On the Horizon
A number of Crimson swimmers have set NCAA provisional qualifying marks and have a chance to compete at the NCAA Championships hosted by Purdue March 18-20.