Men's Swimming Finishes Third at Ivy League Championships; Lee and Powell Take Top Awards
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Casey Snedecor
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - The Columbia men's swimming & diving team had a banner third day to score one of the highest point totals in team history at the 2011 Ivy League Championships at Harvard. Led by individual award winners Adam Powell and Hyun Lee, Columbia finished third with 1,078.5 points. Powell won the Harold Ulen Award as the Career High Point Swimmer, while Lee took home the Phil Moriarty Award as the High Point Swimmer of the Meet.

Columbia had three championships Saturday, as Lee won a championship title in the 200 fly, while Powell won the 100 free. The relay team of Lee, John Wright, Patrick Dougherty and Powell won Columbia’s first-ever Ivy League championship title in the 400 free relay.

Saturday evening’s finals got started with a bang, as Powell took part in a time trial, trying to better his 50 free time and qualify for NCAAs. With the entire pool cheering him on, he may have done just that, as Powell set a new school record and a new personal best, coming in at 19.62 seconds. It is currently tied for 12th in the NCAA, as an NCAA ‘B’ cut time.

Earlier in the day, the Lions also got valuable team points from the distance squad. Sophomore Sean MacKenzie was the top finisher for Columbia in the 1000 free, as he came in 15th overall with a time of 9:28.91. Junior Alex Smith was just behind him, coming in 17th overall with a time of 9:30.84. And first-year Harry Stephenson came in 18th overall with a time of 9:30.95.

In the 200 backstroke, Columbia had two Lions scoring points. Junior Johnny Bailey swam in the consolation finals, coming in 16th overall, at 1:53.91. Sophomore Patrick Dougherty swam in the championship finals of the event, and came in seventh overall, with a time of 1:49.17.

The next event was the 100 free, where Powell would be defending his championship title from 2010. In the morning’s preliminaries, Powell proved he would take that defense seriously, as he swam an NCAA ‘B’ cut time and new school record, finishing easily as the top seed in 43.26 seconds. The time currently ranks at 19th in the nation. Powell would replicate that time exactly in the night’s finals, as he beat the rest of the field by a second and a half, claiming his second individual title of the weekend. Sophomore John Wright also had an outstanding performance in the 100 free, as he qualified for the championship finals, and came in fourth overall, with a personal best time of 44.79. First-year Daniel Tan also scored points  for Columbia in the event, as he swam in the bonus finals, coming in 23rd with a time of 46.55 seconds.

The next event of the night was the 200 breaststroke, which had five different Lions scoring points in the night session. First-year Matthew Swallow swam in the bonus finals, and was the top finisher in that heat. He finished up 17th overall with a time of 2:05.97. Columbia had two swimmers in the consolation final. First-year Eric Traub came in 15th overall in 2:05.28, while junior John-Howard Sidman took 16th, hitting the wall in 2:05.34. And in the championship finals, Columbia had two swimmers, more than any other team, save Princeton. Junior Robert Eyckmans was the top finisher for the Lions, as he took fifth place in 2:01.68, while sophomore Erik Mai came in eighth overall, in 2:02.65.

The 200 butterfly was another event that saw five swimmers wearing Columbia Blue in the scoring heats. First-year Kai Schultz qualified for the bonus finals, swimming 1:53.85 in the morning session. Saturday night, he came in at 1:54.54, finishing 24th overall. In the consolation finals, first-year Philipp Gaissert dropped two seconds from his morning time, to finish 11th overall. In the morning, he swam 1:52.31 to qualify, and improved to 1:50.46 at night. Junior Eyckmans was also in the consolation heat, and swam 1:51.44 to finish 14th overall.

But the real action of the night was in the championship finals of the 200 fly, where Columbia had two of the top seeds of the day, in Lee and junior Bruno Esquen. Lee dropped three seconds from his morning time to win the night’s finals with ease, coming in at 1:46.36. The time is an NCAA ‘B’ cut time, and a new school record. It was Lee’s third title in as many days. Esquen ended the night in seventh overall, with a time of 1:50.27.

Columbia also got major points from the Lion divers in the 1m competition. Senior David Levkoff qualified for the consolation finals, and came in 15th overall, scoring 258.90 points. And sophomore Jason Collazo qualified for the championship finals, placing sixth overall with 280.02 points.

The night ended with the most dramatic race of the entire weekend. With Princeton and Harvard neck and neck for the team title, the championship would be decided by who won the 400 free relay. But the Lions decided to play spoiler, as Columbia went out hard, in an attempt to win the program’s first-ever championship title in the event, and only the second relay title in school history.

Senior Hyun Lee led off for the Lions, and got Columbia out in front early, as he split 44.32 on his 100. John Wright took to the water next, and as he had all weekend, the sophomore swam with his eyes on the prize, hitting his first 50 in 20.60 seconds. He brought home his 100 in 43.45, and sophomore Patrick Dougherty hit the water with enough of a lead to stay comfortable. Dougherty stayed in front, despite challenges from both Harvard and Princeton, and with his 44.70 split, left very little to chance for the anchor leg. There, senior Adam Powell was waiting, and he didn’t need much encouragement. Powell hit the water with a lead, and the Columbia team and fans went nuts, knowing that if Powell starts with a lead, no one stands a chance. And they didn’t. Powell split 42.36, on the way to a dominant first place finish in the relay. The team finished with a final time of 2:54.83, shattering the old school record by a solid four seconds.

The Lions ended the night on top, and celebrated appropriately. Columbia finished third overall, behind champions Princeton and second place Harvard. The Lions finished with 1078.5 points, one of the highest point totals ever, and a solid 200 points ahead of fourth place Yale. Columbia also got to celebrate its two seniors, as they were recognized by the league.

Lee, a champion in the 500 free, the 200 free, the 200 fly and the 400 free relay, was the highest individual point scorer in the entire league, and was awarded with the Phil Moriarty Award as the High Point Swimmer of the Meet. And Powell, a champion in the 50 free, 100 free and 400 free relay, was honored with the Harold Ulen Award, which is given to the athlete who has scored the highest point total over their Ivy League swimming career. Lee and Powell will graduate as two of the most decorated Lions in Columbia swimming history, and the 2010-11 Columbia men’s swimming & diving team will go down in history as one of the best all-around teams ever to swim in Morningside Heights.