NEW YORK – After a successful dual meet season, the Columbia men’s swimming & diving team has packed up their suits and headed north, to Cambridge, Mass., where the 2011 Ivy League Swimming & Diving Championships are taking place, Thursday, March 3 to Saturday, March 5. 

Columbia is heading in as one of the teams favored to take third place, behind traditional powerhouses Harvard and Princeton. Here’s an event-by-event breakdown of what to expect from the Lions.

Sprint Free

Senior Adam Powell comes into the 2011 Ivy League Championships undefeated in the 50 and 100 free. Powell, the defending champion in both events, has not lost a sprint free event in a dual meet since his sophomore season. And heading into Thursday’s preliminaries, Powell has the fastest times in both events in the league – 19.88 seconds in the 50 free, and 43.77 in the 100 free.

Middle Distance and Distance Free

Senior Hyun Lee is back after a two-year absence from Ivies, and he’ll be looking to win major hardware in middle distance events. He currently leads the league time-wise in the 200 free, as he hit 1:36.61 earlier this season. He’s also seventh in the league in the 500 free (4:31.54), and 12th in the league in the 1000 free (9:33.21). Joining Lee in the distance events will be sophomore Sean MacKenzie, who is ranked in the top 25 in the league in all three distance events. He’s currently 25th in the 500 free (4:37.67), and 11th in both the 1000 free (9:31.90) and the 1650 free (16:03.20). First-year Harry Stephenson and junior Alex Smith could also provide depth in the distance events for Columbia. 

Butterfly/IM

Lee could also provide some firepower for the Lions in the butterfly as well. He has the third fastest times in the league in both the 100 (49.09) and the 200 (1:49.38). Joining him in the fly events will be junior Bruno Esquen, who was a major points scorer for the Lions in 2010. He holds the sixth fastest time in the 100 fly (49.33), and the ninth fastest in the 200 fly, so he should have some championship final spots.

Breaststroke

Columbia has a contingent of athletes who could be compete in the breaststroke events. First-year Andrew Wood, senior Josh Brown, first-year Thomas Elling, junior John-Howard Sidman and first-year Matthew Swallow are all ranked in the top 20 in the league in breaststroke events.

Backstroke

Powell could actually be a source of points for Columbia here as well. He has the top time in the 100 back heading into Ivies, at 49.47. But the Lions will also look to have strong swims from junior Johnny Bailey, who is eighth in the league in the 100 back (50.57), and sophomore Patrick Dougherty, who is 17th in the league in the 200 back (1:52.28).

Relays

Columbia is poised to score major points in the relays this year, with a strong group of athletes in each stroke. And all five of Columbia’s relays are ranked in the top six heading into the championships. The 200 free relay has the sixth fastest time in the league, while the 400 and 800 free relays both rank fifth at this point. But the medley relays are where Columbia has some potential title hopes. Both the 200 and 400 medley relays are currently ranked fourth in the league, and those top times were both without Lee.