The Cornell women’s swimming and diving team brought its 2016-17 post-season to a close this week at the Ivy League Championships in Providence, held at Brown’s Katherine Moran Aquatics Center. In competitions beginning Wednesday and coming to a close Saturday, the Red took down a number of school records, despite finishing in seventh place overall in the Ancient Eight.
“[I was] very satisfied and happy for the women on the team,” said head coach Pat Gallagher. “We certainly weren’t perfect, but overall we performed at our highest level all year and that is what we planned for.”
Over the four days of competition in Providence, the Red saw record-breaking performances and podium-finishes in a wide range of events.
Senior Currie Murch-Elliot lowered her own personal best time in the 1,650 freestyle to 16:45.17, the second-fastest time in school history, placing eighth overall in the event.
Senior Cari Stankaitis broke Cornell’s record in the 50 freestyle with a prelim time of 22.84 seconds, giving her an eighth place overall finish. Stankaitis also finished eighth in the 100 freestyle, with a prelim time of 50.14, which lowered her own second-best all-time performance at Cornell by 0.01 second.
The team of Stankaitis, Ellie Belilos, Sarah Baturka and Helen Hsu together crushed the former school record in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:23.13. The former record of 3:23.72 had stood since 2014.
Junior Tessa Wilson and sophomore Helen Hsu each broke the former school record in the 200 backstroke. Wilson claimed the new record with a time of 2:00.22.
“I think the team was overall pretty happy with our performance,” said sophomore Kimmy Vitek. “I think what was different about this year was that we started the meet really strong rather than taking a day to get into the swing of it. We had some really fast swims right off the bat that got us in the swing of things and set the tone for the meet.
Columbia claimed sixth place at Ivies with a score of 683.5, while Cornell followed closely behind with 653 points. Dartmouth took last with 358 points, and Yale cinched the title with an impressive 1,681 points, majorly upsetting the Harvard-Princeton forces that have claimed the title for the past four years. Harvard took the runner-up spot with 1,590.5 points, while Princeton was followed with 1,024 points. Penn and Brown rounded out the fourth and fifth spots, with 962 and 859 points, respectively.
“We were right on Columbia’s butt the whole time, so it kept us really motivated to make every single race count,” Vitek added. “Although they ended up sneaking ahead of us in the end, everyone was happy with the scare we gave them.”
The meet, while intense as any championship, was also highly sentimental for the team, as it was the last time seniors will compete in a Red swimsuit.
“It was really sad watching the seniors finish their last swim,” Vitek said. “It makes you appreciate every moment of the season because in no time it’s going to be you diving into the pool one last time. The senior class was a really special one and we are going to have some big shoes to fill.”
The team will look to fill those big shoes in the coming months as it says a bittersweet goodbye to the class of 2017, but looks forward to welcoming the class of 2021 the coming fall.
“This is a good place to reset our individual and collective goals,” Gallagher said. “After some down time, we’ll get back to work focusing on 2018.”