Princeton Caps Brilliant Weekend With 10th Ivy Title In Last 12 Years
The final memory, outside of the traditional celebratory leap into the pool, was Megan Waters - the fastest swimmer of one of the league's fastest weekends - blazing past the field, touching the wall first and igniting one final roar from her jubilant teammates.
Really, could the 2011 Women's Swimming & Diving Ivy League Championship meet have ended any other way?
Waters didn't need this kind of weekend to cement herself as one of Princeton's best swimmers during an amazing run of 10 championships in 12 years, but she certainly put an exclamation point (or seven) on that career. Her three individual victories and four relay wins led Princeton to a second straight Ivy League title in front of a loud and adoring DeNunzio Pool crowd.
Princeton won the Ivy League title with 1,562 points, while Harvard finished second with 1,496 points. Columbia used a superb final day to leapfrog both Penn and Yale for third place with 894 points.
Waters was named the Ivy League Championships Swimmer of the Meet, and she had a pair of teammates joining her on the individual awards stand. Freshman Rachel Zambrowicz won Diver of the Meet honors after winning the 1-meter title by less than one point, while senior Carolyn Littlefield won the Career High Point Diver honor after winning the 3-meter title Friday night.
All in all, Princeton won 12 of the 21 events, including both diving competitions and four of the five relays. Princeton built on its lead and each day and didn't need to sweat out the final event as it did a year ago, when the Tigers dethroned Harvard in its own Blodgett Pool by a mere 27 points.
"I'm just really proud of my girls," said veteran head coach Susan Teeter, minutes before she was thrown into the pool with the rest of her championship team. "We swam well all weekend long. We dove well all weekend long. We had great fans and alumni cheering us the whole way. I couldn't ask for a better championship weekend for our team and for this league."
The evening began with the 1,000 final, which was won by Penn's impressive freshman Shelby Fortin. A three-event winner, Fortin cruised to victory in 9:45.17. As they did all weekend, when the Tigers weren't winning an event, they were scoring points. Freshman Maureen McCotter took second in 9:57.73, while senior co-captain Ming Ong placed fourth in 10:01.18. Junior Aislinn Smalling added a third Top-10 finish by taking 10th in 10:06.37.
Defending 200 back champion Meredith Monroe, a junior co-captain for the 2010-11 Tigers, placed third in a very exciting 200 back championship final. Harvard's Meghan Leddy won the event by taking charge in the middle 100 and holding off both Monroe and Molly Albrecht of Yale with a winning time of 1:55.66. Albrecht took second in 1:56.72, while a hard-charging Monroe took third in 1:56.98. The Tiger junior had the fastest final split in 29.32, but the gap between her and Leddy was too much to overcome.
Freshman Karen Wang added a Top 10 finish for the Tigers by finishing second in the consolation final with a time of 2:01.33.
Waters capped her perfect individual meet by defending her 100 free title in an Ivy League record time of 48.66. That score beat the previous Ivy record of 48.88, set by Waters during the morning preliminary swim. Just behind Waters was Princeton freshman Lisa Boyce, who took second in a B-cut time of 49.69. Princeton had three of the top five, with junior Jillian Altenburger taking fifth in 50.85.
Freshman Andrea Kropp won her second Ivy League title by taking her top event, the 200 breast, in 2:12.29. The win was not without drama, as Yale junior Athena Liao never let Kropp get too far away Leno was within .05 of a second with 50 yards to go, but Kropp won the final split between the two and touched the wall for a sweep in the breast events.
Yale's Hayes Hyde won the 200 fly in 1:57.74, while sophomore Carter Stephens finished third in the championship final with a time of 1:59.75.
The final two events were thrillers, and both ended with Princeton on top. Zambrowicz showed plenty by finishing third in the three-meter final on Friday, but she topped that in a big way. In one of the closest diving finals ever, in which the top three were separated by one point and the top four were separated by less than three total points, Zambrowicz won her first title with a score of 269.70. Harvard's Jenny Reese finished second with 268.85 points, while Yale's Rachel Rosenberg took third with 268.70. Princeton junior Christina Kirkwood finished fourth with 267.15 points, while Littlefield ended eighth with 248.10 points.
With the team title wrapped up, Princeton looked for the ultimate ending in the 400 free relay. The quartet of Boyce, Monroe, Altenburger and Waters were challenged by a strong Harvard foursome and trailed by more than 1.5 seconds with 100 yards remaining. Swimming for the Crimson was senior Kate Mills, one of the league's best competitors and the 2011 Career High Point Swimmer honoree.
Her opponent was Waters. Her lead, when she first hit the water, was 1.63 seconds.
It wasn't enough. Waters cut most of the deficit in the first 50, recording the only sub-23 second split (22.92), and she put it away in the final stretch to give Princeton a meet record win in 3:20.17. The Crimson finished second in 3:20.32.
The roar that followed was one of many heard throughout the weekend, and it is a roar that has become part of Princeton's tradition during these championship weekends.