Swimming teams settle for second at H-Y-P, eye different results at Ivies

When the Ivy League swimming and diving schedule is released each year, one regular-season date stands out above all the others: the H-Y-P meet. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have clearly been the conference’s Big Three in the pool, as one member of the trio has claimed at least a share of the men’s league title in 54 of 55 seasons, and the women’s in 31 of 36 years.

Recently, the H-Y-P meet — like the Ivy League championships — has become mostly an H-P slugfest, with everyone else watching the duel. Princeton or Harvard has won every men’s and women’s crown since 2000, and that streak should continue next month, as both teams from both schools have hardly been challenged by any other Ivy foes.

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Princeton men’s swimming and diving finished second to Harvard in the H-Y-P meet. The Crimson also placed first on the women’s side. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)

The biggest meet of the regular season drew big crowds, as former swimmers and family packed the pool this weekend, cheering their school toward Big Three hegemony. The length of DeNunzio Pool was split into three equal sections, one navy blue, one maroon and one orange; naturally, the hosts’ area was the most crowded, with Princeton students and other fans spilling into unoccupied territory, but all three blocks were pretty well filled.

“It was pretty awesome and pretty intense to swim in front of all the alumni and a huge crowd,” said Sada Stewart ’16, a backstroker and individual-medley swimmer with a powerful kick off of the walls. “It was really fun, and it showed me how much of a team and a family Princeton swimming really is.”

It did not take long for Stewart and her classmates to be indoctrinated into the Princeton-Harvard rivalry: The Tigers’ Class of 2016 was ranked No. 16 nationally as recruits last summer, a high honor for an Ivy League school … and tied with the Crimson, which shared that No. 16 ranking. Their first head-to-head meeting decisively went to Harvard, 199-99; the Crimson won 10 of the meet’s 16 events — including four individual victories by freshmen — while Princeton took only three, one of which came when a first-place Harvard relay was disqualified.

The Orange-Crimson fire burns just as hot on the men’s side, especially among upperclassmen. When the three teams’ seniors were honored near the end of the meet on Sunday, Princeton’s swimmers announced their most memorable moment, which was almost unanimously winning Ivies by a mere 5.5 points in 2011. Standing beside them, the Harvard seniors were certainly seething — they were the ones on the short end of that deficit, at their own pool in Cambridge.

The veterans make sure the rivalry is passed on to younger generations — in the days leading up to this weekend’s H-Y-P meet, they tasked underclassmen with making a countdown calendar. “It’s a special atmosphere, for sure,” said diver Stevie Vines ’13, who was beaten in his stronger 3-meter event on Saturday but came back to win Sunday’s 1-meter competition. “There’s so much energy in here, which helps a lot in diving … having [alumni] here makes it more fun.”

The men had a little more success than the women, winning five events — including an impressive swim in the 200-yard backstroke by Connor Maher ’15, who nearly set a program record — but ultimately suffered the same fate, as Harvard led throughout the meet and pulled away for a comfortable victory.

Both teams will get another shot at the Crimson in a few weeks at the Ivy Championships. The men will race at Brown’s new pool, while the women will return to DeNunzio, where they won titles in 2011, 2008 and 2007 — leaving Harvard in second place each time. “It’s definitely good that we get to see them again,” Stewart said. “Seeing Harvard here show up here and swim the way they did really lets us know what we’re going to see at Ivies.”

Quick takes

Ivy League MEN’S BASKETBALL is officially a two-team race. Princeton handled Cornell on Friday but struggled with Columbia on a nationally televised game Saturday; the Lions continually beat defenders off the dribble and scored efficiently, but thanks to 8-for-11 accuracy on threes, Princeton simply outshot the visitors for a 72-66 win. Harvard continues to look shaky — it struggled to put away Yale at home, then let a 22-point lead slip away against Brown before winning in double overtime — but the Crimson is still 4-0, a half-game up on 3-0 Princeton. No other team is above .500 in league play, including 1-3 Columbia, the league’s preseason dark horse.

In WOMEN’S BASKETBALL, the “14-game tournament” looks more like a 14-game coronation. The Tigers took sole command of first place in just their second game, a 77-46 rout at Cornell, and easily handled Columbia the following day for their 27th straight Ivy League win. In an extension of last year’s dominance, Princeton has won all three conference games by at least 30 points. Reigning Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed ’13 had her kind of weekend — one night, she scored 21 points on just 12 shots; the next, she tallied 15 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in only 24 minutes.

Entering the weekend, MEN’S HOCKEY had won four of its last five games and had a strong shot at the Ivy League title, but losses at No. 8 Yale (4-2) and Brown (5-1) all but ended those hopes. Now the focus turns to the ECAC standings, which are as jumbled as they has ever been; just three points separate third place from 10th in the 12-team league. Princeton is in that mix with 13 points; a strong finish to the season could mean a top-four seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament, while a poor one could leave the Tigers in the bottom four and going on the road for the playoffs.

Home-court advantage means a lot in squash, but both Princeton squads picked up big road victories last week to defend their No. 1 rankings. Three days after thrashing No. 4 Penn at home, WOMEN’S SQUASH edged No. 3 Yale 5-4 on the road to stay undefeated; at the same time, MEN’S SQUASH beat the Bulldogs 6-3. Learning to win away from home was good for the teams, who have earned most of their recent big victories at Jadwin Gymnasium; they’ll have to return to New Haven for the team national championships later this month.

 

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Kevin Whitaker ’13 is an economics major and Daily Princetonian sports editor.