Princeton women’s swimming and diving coach Susan Teeter expected a tense, tight and exciting meet when the Tigers headed to New Haven, Conn., for the annual H-Y-P meet. Instead, she received a meet that exceeded even her most optimistic dreams.
Princeton improved to 5-0 on the season and ran its dual meet win streak to 37 with a 207-93 victory over Harvard and a 234.5-63.5 victory over Yale. Even more impressively, Princeton swept all 16 events, including two that the Tigers swam as exhibitions because the final results had long been decided.
It is a performance that should catch the eyes of more than just the Ivy League field. After weeks of being among the teams receiving votes, Princeton should get real consideration for a spot among the Top 25 in the next set of national rankings.
During the weekend, Princeton set seven Yale pool records and four Princeton team records. Senior Megan Waters set a team mark in both the 100 fly and 100 free, while freshmen Andrea Kropp (200 breast) and Lisa Boyce (100 back) also set team records.
“I am so proud of the team for a great effort this weekend,” Teeter said. “Swimming and diving at H-Y-P is special for all three teams. The rivalry with Harvard and Yale makes us a better team each year. I am happy for our seniors who really stepped up this weekend to lead the team.”
The weekend sweep began Friday afternoon, when senior Carolyn Littlefield edged Harvard’s Jenny Reese by less than half a point to win the three-meter diving competition. Littlefield, one of six seniors honored during last week’s home win over Dartmouth, scored 284.75 points to win the event. Freshman teammate Rachel Zambrowicz scored 265.05 points to place sixth overall.
The swimming events opened with the 200 medley relay, and Princeton went 1-2 in the event. The ‘A’ team of Meredith Monroe, Andrea Kropp, Lisa Boyce and Megan Waters won in 1:41.39, while a second Tiger quartet placed second in 1:43.37. No other relay was within one second of either Princeton quartet.
Senior co-captain Ming Ong led off the individual events winning a 1-2-3 Princeton finish in the 1000. Ong won the event in 10:00.76, while freshman Maureen McCotter took second in 10:01.61. Rounding out the top three was junior Aislinn Smalling, who finished in 10:01.97.
Junior Jillian Altenburger came into the weekend as the reigning Ivy League champion in the 200 free, and she showed she was still the one to beat this season with a winning time of 1:48.43, three seconds faster than Harvard’s Kate Mills, who came into the weekend with the league’s top time in the event. Princeton sophomore Kathy Qu was impressive, topping Mills and placing second overall in 1:50.58, while Smalling took fourth in 1:51.21.
Teeter watched her freshman 1-2 punch flex its muscles in the next two events. Boyce, who already was the Princeton record holder in the 100 back, held off teammate Meredith Monroe to set a new team record and win the 100 in 54.28, while Monroe took second in 55.21. Freshman Karen Wang also had an impressive swim, placing fourth in 56.67.
Kropp matched Boyce with a win of her own in the 100 breast. Swimming the final split 1.4 seconds faster than anybody in the field, Kropp won with a dominant time of 1:02.54. It was another 1-2-3 finish for the Tigers, as juniors Kerry Gruendel and Hannah Cody placed second and third in 1:04.05 and 1:04.59, respectively.
One of the closest races of the first session would come in the 200 fly, as Princeton sophomore Carter Stephens matched up with Harvard veteran Kate Mills. Stephens raced out to a lead of more than one second in the first split, then held off Mills’ charge to win in 2:00.65. Princeton placed four in the top six, as Qu took third in 2:03.78, McCotter took fifth in 2:03.99 and junior Leslie Bargmann took sixth in 2:05.42.
Waters is the defending Ivy champion in the 100 free and carried the league’s best times in both the 50 and 100 into the weekend. She did not disappoint in the 50, setting a Yale pool record in 22.82. Freshman teammate Laura Slater took fourth in 23.92, while Boyce placed fifth in 23.93.
The final event of the evening was the 400 IM, an event Princeton has dominated recently in the Ivy League championships. With standouts like Alicia Aemisegger and Lisa Hamming having graduated, there is a spot open for a new Tiger to take the lead, and freshman Rebecca Lewinson looked ready Friday. Her time of 4:25.85 was nearly four seconds faster than anybody in the field, with teammate Caitlin Baran placing second in 4:29.75. A pair of sophomores, Alexa Powers (4:33.40) and Sarah Furgatch (4:33.98), took fourth and fifth to give Princeton four of the top five in this event.
Saturday’s session began exactly as Friday’s did, with Littlefield picking up a diving victory. She scored 264.80 points on the one-meter board to win by more than 11 points. Christina Kirkwood placed fourth with 242 points, while Zambrowicz took fifth with 237.25 points.
Waters followed her record-setting 50 by edging teammates Boyce and Altenburger in the 100 free. Waters won the event in a Princeton-record time of 49.67, while Boyce finished second in 50.55 and Altenburger took third in 50.85. Monroe followed with an impressive win in the 200 back, beating the field by more than 2.5 seconds. Monroe, the reigning Ivy champ in this event, won in 1:57.96, while Wang placed third in 2:03.36 and Ong took fourth in 2:06.06.
Kropp broke her second school record of the year when she won her specialty, the 200 breast, in 2:11.52. That time beat the field by more than six seconds; teammate Cody finished third in 2:20.58. Kropp reached the U.S. Nationals final last summer in the 200 breast and didn’t lose to a single swimmer under the age of 23.
Smalling and McCotter went 1-2 in the 500 free, with Smalling earning the win in 4:54.97, and McCotter placing second in 4:55.20.
Waters added her second school record of the weekend by winning the 100 fly in 53.67. Stephens placed second to her teammate in 55.28, while Qu took third in 56.48. Leslie Bargmann added a fourth-place finish in 56.85.
Though Princeton swam the final two races as exhibitions, the Tigers still touched the wall first in both. Kropp had the top finish in the 200 IM in 2:01.66, and the 400 free relay of Stephens, Boyce, Altenburger, Waters won in 3:22.31.
“Carolyn Littlefield winning both boards as a senior was simply awesome,” Teeter said. “There were so many great performances from so many people it's hard to single any one swim out. If I had to, I'd pick the 100 fly and Megan Waters. Breaking the school record, breaking the Yale pool record, and dominating the field is such a credit to all her hard work.
“We love swimming in the Yale pool and have had great success there over the years,” Teeter said. “I am really proud of this team. Now we have to refocus on Columbia this coming week and continue preparing to swim fast at the Ivy Championships.”
Princeton will take on Columbia Friday night at 6 p.m., then will be off for three weeks before hosting the 2011 Ivy League Championships at DeNunzio Pool (Feb. 24-26).