Women outperform men in swimming and diving on Senior Day with win over Cornell

Bears focus training on championship preparation, drop regular season meets at home

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 2, 2015

The Bears prepare to taper off their grueling training regimen in anticipation of Ivy championship season.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams came into this weekend’s matchup against Cornell riding a string of Ivy losses. At the season’s last home dual meet and on Senior Day, the women (4-4, 2-4 Ivy) eked out a win over the Big Red (5-4, 3-4) to prevent the Bears from sinking further down the Ivy rankings. The men (2-5, 1-5) posted noteworthy performances but ultimately could not keep up with Cornell (5-4, 3-4), placing them at the bottom of the conference, followed only by a winless Dartmouth squad.

Despite battling a bout of sickness earlier in the week, the women’s team outscored the Big Red 158-142. Co-captain Gina Matsumoto ’16 attributed this comeback to the Bears’ mental toughness.

“We stuck together as a team,” Matsumoto said. “It was really hard to come back from not being able to keep up our tough training schedule” due to illness, she said. “But we did a good job of cheering each other on and making sure we stood behind each other at every race.”

The relay team of Jenna Zagoren ’18, Aja Grande ’18, Caroline Vexler ’17 and Reia Tong ’16 kicked off the meet with a victory in the 200 yard medley relay. In the 200 yard freestyle, co-captain Kate Dillione ’15 showcased her impressive speed by finishing first, outpacing her Cornell rival by more than two seconds.

The Bears continued their winning campaign as Zagoren and Natsumi Horikawa ’18 went one-two in the 100 yard backstroke, earning 13 points total. The results were mirrored in the 100 yard breaststroke, as Grande and Hailey Jacobson ’18 finished in first and second place, respectively, and again in the 200 yard butterfly with Matsumoto and Vexler claiming the top spots. Not to be outdone, Dillione and Tong topped the rankings in the 50 yard freestyle.

Standout Dillione shone both in and out of the water.

“Dillione performed very well this weekend,” Matsumoto said. “She had a great deck presence and was an all-around great teammate and captain.”

Molly Gelb ’17 earned a second place finish on the 1-meter dive, and Rachel Speakman ’16 earned a second place finish on the 3-meter and a third place finish on the 1-meter dives. Dillione captured another victory in the 100 yard freestyle. Other victories came from Matsumoto in the 100 yard butterfly and from the quartet of Dillione, Tong, Korbyn Simpson ’18 and Sarah Cronin ’18 in the 400 yard freestyle relay.

As the men prepare to ease their practice regimen in the weeks before Ivy and NCAA championships, the 188-112 loss is certainly a letdown for them. But the squad refuses to let it spell defeat for them, focusing on peaking at championships instead.

“Our mentality is always to race, but we have to make sure we consider the timing a little bit,” said co-captain Ryan Saenger ’16. “It’s not necessarily healthy to obsess over our times right now … we’ve seen that people are really excited to compete right now and see the improvement that they’ve been working towards all season.”

The Bears opened competition with a third place finish in the 200 yard medley relay from the crew of Alexander Pascal ’15, Christopher Meyers ’16, Jeffrey Strausser ’15 and Daniel Klotz ’17. Bruno dominated in the 1000 yard freestyle as Cory Mayfield ’16 and Grant Casey ’18 took the top two spots. Pascal and Willy Lee ’18 added to Brown’s total points with second and third place finishes in the 100 yard backstroke.

Brendan Woo ’18 and Riley Springman ’18 raced to the millisecond in the 200 yard butterfly, each posting a time of 1:51.93 to tie for second place. The performances display the Bears’ incremental progress — the result of a demanding and strategic practice regimen.

“If you look at the past couple weeks, we’ve seen a lot of people really zero in on their end-of-season goal times,” Saenger said. “We’re seeing good improvement week after week.”

In the 1-meter dive, Jonathon Schlafer ’17 outperformed the next best diver by more than 23 points. Schlafer combined with Sazzy Gourley ’16 to sweep the top two spots in the 3-meter dive. Max Bley-Male ’17 and Declan Kennon ’18 swam their way to second and third place finishes in the 200 yard backstroke, and Mayfield and Casey did the same in the 500 yard freestyle. Strausser notched a win with a top finish in the 100 yard butterfly, and the squad of Klotz, Pascal, Strausser and Jack Nee ’17 topped off the day with a third place finish in the 400 yard freestyle relay.

“I expect to see an excellent performance at the Ivy League championships,” Saenger said. “It’s clear that people are in excellent shape. I think once taper starts to kick in … people’s times will really start to come down quick.”

The Bears will compete at Yale (men 7-2, 4-2 and women 7-2, 5-2) Saturday as they gear up for championship season. As the regular season winds down, Bruno is having no trouble zeroing in on its championship goals.

“We’ve done so much hard work throughout the year, in and out of the pool. We’ve been practicing as well as building great morale,” Matsumoto said. “So we’re looking to keep the ball rolling.”

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