Men's Swimming and Diving Championships Preview
PRINCETON, N.J. -- The Ivy League men's swimming and diving teams will converge on Harvard's Blodgett Pool from March 3-5 in Cambridge, Mass., to vie for the 2011 Ivy League Championship trophy.
Princeton has won both Ivy League Championship meets since the format was altered in 2009 to exclusively include the eight Ivy League schools but after a dual season in which the Harvard Crimson posted a 7-0 record and several other Ivy teams turned in impressive team and individual showings, the 2011 title is certain to be a tightly -contested race. Action on all three days is slated to begin with 11:00 a.m. preliminary sessions, followed by 6:00 p.m. championship final sessions.
Aside from Harvard's unbeaten League performance in the dual season, the group of Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, and Penn each turned in at least three League wins, indicating a level of competitiveness and parity that should make for an exciting championship event.
Columbia's Adam Powell enters the 2011 Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships as a two-time defending champion after capturing last season's 50 free and 100 free. He won the 50 free in 19.72 and has recorded the top Ivy time of the 2010-11 season at 19.88. Powell then won last season's 100 free in 43.92 and has the top 2010-11 time at 43.77. Powell and his fellow 2010-11 50 and 100 free competitors entered the event knowing that Alex Righi's four-year reign on both events had come and gone. This season, Powell, a senior, could be looking to cap off a similar two-year trend. But to do so, he will have to overcome strong fields in both the 50 and 100 free. Oliver Lee of Harvard and Princeton's Matthew LaMonaca and Geoffrey Faux are just three of the swimmers who figure to be in contention for those races if penciled in by their coaches. Lee has swum the 50 free in 20.42 already this season, while LaMonaca, who finished fourth in the 2010 50 free and second in the 100 free, has already recorded a 20.43 in the 50 and a 45.21 in the 100 in 2010-11. Faux placed second in last season's 50 free, just .06 off Powell's pace, and tied for fifth last year.
Another two-time returning champion from last season's event is Princeton's Jonathan Christensen. As a sophomore in 2010, Christensen captured titles in the 200 IM (1:46.76) and the 100 breast (54.08), while also finishing second in the 200 breast (1:57.51). Also a junior, Penn's Brendan McHugh should be one of Christensen's rivals at the 2011 championship, having finished second in last year's 100 breast (55.63) and third in the 200 breast (1:59.21). So far in 2010-11, Christensen and McHugh have turned in the top Ivy times in the 100 and 200 breast, with Chritensen clocking 54.48 and 1:58.15 and McHugh recording a 54.97 to go along with a 1:59.55.
One event that will see a new champion in 2011 is the 1,650 free, which Harvard's Alex Meyer won as a junior and senior in 2009 and 2010. Though Meyer has moved on, if a Harvard swimmer were to win in 2011, it would mark the seventh-consecutive year a member of the Crimson has claimed the 1,650 crown. Another race guaranteed to have a new champion for the first time in two years due to Meyer's graduation is the 1,000 free. Last season, Meyer won it in 9:01.87 and a year before that he set the meet record by winning with a time of 8:57.28. A pair of freshmen enter the 2011 championship with the top seed times in the 1,000 free in Wes Stearns of Harvard (9:19.81) and Paul Noelle of Princeton (9:22.08).
There will also be a fierce battle for valuable points in the diving portion of the competition as many talented Ivy Leaguers vie for the one and three-meter titles. On the one-meter boards, Princeton's Stephen Vines enters with the best 2010-11 score (334.80), followed by the Yale duo of Tyler Pramer (330.19) and Eric Olson (319.57). Vines won last season's event with a score of 290.75. The same trio should be in contention on the three-meter boards. Harvard sophomore Michael Stanton, a second place finisher on the one-meter board last year as well as a third place finisher on the three-meter board, will be looking to make a statement in front of his home crowd. Penn's Jeff Cragg, a fifth-place finisher at one-meter last year, could also be amongst the top finishers in the 2011 diving events as well. He enters the championships with the fifth-best Ivy score of 2010-11 in one-meter (309.00) and the fourth-best mark in three-meter (340.20).
Taking a quick holistic view of the record book, the two longest-standing records date back to the 2001 season when Harvard's Dan Shevchik set the mark in the 400 IM in a time of 3:46.69 and Columbia's Mark Fichera recorded a 379.65 in three-meter diving. Could 2011 be the year in which these 10-year old records fall? Either way, the action inside Blodgett Pool is sure to entertain.