Relishing Role Of Underdog, Princeton Readies To Host Ivy Championships
The Ivy League Swimming & Diving Championships are rarely predictable, but the upcoming 2013 conference weekend could prove to be as wild and exciting as any in recent memory.
The 2013 Ivy championships will return to DeNunzio Pool Feb. 28-March 2. Tickets will be sold at the door (prices are available at the bottom of this story). The meet will be streamed online by the Ivy League, and live results will be available both online and on mobile devices (see links above). With Meet Mobile, the full meet data is $1.99. This includes heat sheets, instant results, and full splits.
Harvard will enter the weekend as both the defending champion and favorite, following its undefeated run during the Ivy League regular season. For Princeton, playing the role of hunter, especially inside its own home pool, is just fine.
While top-end talent often determines dual meets, an Ivy championship weekend demands the best from every member of the conference roster. Every swimmer is eligible to swim in three individual events, as well as four relays. There are six sessions, with preliminaries in the morning (11 am) and finals at night (6 pm).
While the finals sessions may be the most dramatic, the preliminaries are just as important. The slowest swimmers of any 'A' final will outscore the fastest in a 'B' final, regardless of those evening times. Hence, the more 'A' finalists than 'B', and the more 'B' than 'C', the greater your odds of that celebratory swim Saturday night.
Princeton head coach Susan Teeter, who has led the Tigers to 10 Ivy League titles in the last 13 years, has consistently praised the increasing depth of talent within the Ivy League over the last few years. Several of those teams have already put forth impressive performances this season, and half of the league has at least five wins Ivy duals.
But the past won't mean anything when the first swimmer touches the water Thursday morning. From there, it's eight teams, six sessions and one goal.
Princeton has a strong mix of both championship experience and impressive youth within its lineup, and it will need the best of both to be in the championship race Saturday night.
Three of the most crucial veterans will be key figures in the free events (both individual and relay). Junior Lisa Boyce has won four individual events over her first two years, including a perfect three-for-three performance at the 2012 championships. She is the reigning Ivy champion in the 50 free and 100 free, as well as the 100 back, and she has top-three times in all three events heading into this weekend.
Seniors Carter Stephens and Jillian Altenburger are both looking to end their Princeton careers with Ivy championships. Stephens, who teamed with Kathy Qu as co-captains this season, has reached the championship final of the 50 free two straight years. Altenburger is a former 200 free champion, and she comes into the weekend with the top time in that event, as well as the third-best time in the 500. Altenburger comes into the championship weekend with wins in both HYP (500 free) and the Columbia (200 free) meets.
While Altenburger should be a major contender in the 500, Princeton will rely on distance specialists Maureen McCotter and India Boland in the three longest events (500, 1000, mile). McCotter has placed as high as second in both the 1000 and the mile, while Boland is part of the highly touted Class of 2016 who will be making their Ivy Championships debut this weekend.
Besides Boyce, the two-time reigning champion in the 100, there will be some top-notch freshmen competing for Ivy titles in the two backstroke events. Harvard freshman Kendall Crawford has the top times in both the 100 and 200, while Princeton newcomer Sada Stewart is just behind in both. Those two look like the top contenders in the 200, though Boyce will certainly have plenty to say about the 100.
Sophomore Shirley Wang will also play a key role in both events, as she will be looking to displace a deep Crimson contingent in this stroke.
The breaststroke events may be the deepest among the Ivy League field. Six of the eight schools have a Top 10 time in the 100, while five have a Top 5 time in the 200. Senior Sarah Furgatch has made two 'A' finals in the 200 during her career, while sophomore Cara Slear has Top 10 times in both events this year. Both Slear and classmate Emily Yu will look to break into the 'A' finals in both events.
Both Stephens and a terrific trio of freshmen will lead the way in the 100 and 200 fly. Stephens has never finished below sixth in a 100 or 200 fly final, and she has placed in the top four of the 100 in each of the last three years. Stewart and freshman teammates Nikki Larson and Beverly Ngyuen could also look to break into the 'A' finals; Stewart has a Top 3 time in the 100, while Nguyen has a Top 4 time in the 200. Larson is in the Top 10 in both, and she has the versatility to give Teeter options in both the fly and free events.
Both Stewart and Nguyen could also be used in the IM events; Nguyen brings Top 5 times into both events, while Stewart is sixth in the 200.
Diving has often played a major role in these championship weekends, and Princeton coach Greg Gunn has had a knack for getting his divers to peak at the right time. Junior Rachel Zambrowicz is a former Ivy League Championships Diver of the Meet; her performance in 2011 helped Princeton win the league title. Junior Randi Brown is coming off a victory at Columbia, while freshman Helen Zitkovsky had an impressive showing during H-Y-P weekend.
However, recent championship meets have shown that you can't discount a Princeton senior. After championship efforts from Carolyn Littlefield and Christina Kirkwood over the last two years, there should be plenty of optimism from the likes of Courtney Fieldman, Katelyn Perry and Bryna Tsai.
Tickets will be sold at the door. An all-session pass, which includes heat sheets, is $30. Single-session tickets for adults are $4 for a preliminary session and $6 for a finals session. Children and University students (with ID) can get tickets for $1 (preliminaries) and $3 (finals).
A heat sheet is $1, while a meet program is $2.
The schedule for the weekend is as follows:
THURSDAY (Prelims at 11; Finals at 6)
1) 200 Free Relay
2) 500 Free
3) 200 IM
4) 50 Free
5) 1-Meter Diving
6) 400 Medley Relay
FRIDAY (Prelims at 11; Finals at 6)
7) 200 Medley Relay
8) 100 Free
9) 400 IM
10) 100 Fly
11) 200 Free
12) 100 Breast
13) 100 Back
14a) 3-Meter Diving Consolations
15) 800 Free Relay
SATURDAY (Prelims at 11; Finals at 6)
16) 1650 Free
17) 200 Back
18) 100 Free
19) 200 Breast
20) 200 Fly
14b) 3-Meter Diving Finals
21) 400 Free Relay