A memorable night for the Lions started with the 200 free relay. With Powell leading off, Columbia took an early lead, and sophomore John Wright, first-year Kai Schultz and sophomore Patrick Dougherty were able to sustain the momentum, finishing second by just five tenths of a second. The Lions came in at 1:20.51, a new program record. The squad will earn second-team All-Ivy League honors with that finish.
The next event was the 500 free, which saw two Lions in action. Junior Alex Smith scored points for Columbia in the bonus final, as he came in 19th overall in 4:33.34. But the real action was in the championship final, where senior Hyun Lee was the top seed after the morning’s preliminaries. And Lee continued to impress, as he dropped four seconds from his morning time, to win the event in 4:20.11, an NCAA ‘B’ cut time, and a finish a full four seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. It is the first individual Ivy League championship title of Lee’s career.
In the 200 IM, Columbia had three swimmers in the bonus and consolation heats. In the Bonus final, sophomore Erik Mai came in third in his heat, 19th overall, with a time of 1:52.46. In the consolation final, the Lions had two more underclassmen in action. First-year Eric Traub and sophomore Patrick Dougherty both qualified. Traub finished third in the heat and 11th overall in 1:50.95, while Dougherty came in 14th overall with a time of 1:52.15.
The next event was the fastest of the weekend, and one of the most exciting for the Lions. In the consolation final of the event, sophomore John Wright had an outstanding showing, as he won his heat with an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 20.30. He finished ninth overall, but would have come in fourth in the championship heat had he qualified. In that championship heat, senior Powell was defending a title he first won in 2010. Since the end of his sophomore season, Columbia’s Powell had not lost a 50 free event. And Thursday night would be no different, as Powell won the 50 free with ease, coming in at 19.74, just two hundredths from Powell’s personal best. It was an NCAA ‘B’ cut time ,and he will earn first-team All-Ivy League honors for his efforts.
In the 3m diving consolation finals. Sophomore Jason Collazo rallied from a slow start to nail his last three dives, and finish second in his heat, 10th overall, with a final score of 307.11.
And the night capped off with the 400 medley relay, in what became one of the most exciting races of the day. Junior Johnny Bailey led off for the Lions in the backstroke leg, and had Columbia in third place at the end of his 100, splitting 49.20. First-year Matthew Swallow took care of the breaststroke leg, keeping the Lions in the hunt, when senior Lee jumped in for the butterfly leg. Hyun Lee moved the Lions within scoring position with a 47.30 split, but it was all Powell would need in the freestyle anchor leg. Powell took off the blocks, with his eye on the Princeton and Penn teams just ahead of him. After the first two turns, Powell was neck and neck with the leaders, and it seemed heading into the last turn that he was going to overtake the Tigers, who held on to the top spot. But Princeton edged Powell out at the wall, and the Lions finished second overall. Powell split 42.16 on the final leg of the race, and Columbia finished with a time of 3:14.27, a new school record in the event. The Lions broke the old record, set in 2000, by a full three seconds.
Columbia ended the first day of the meet with 237 team points, and a solid hold on third place. Princeton leads with 364 points, while Harvard is just behind the Tigers with 341 points. And the rest of the league is still gunning for the Lions, as Cornell, Penn, Yale and Brown are all within 50 points of Columbia.
Friday’s preliminaries begin at 11 a.m., with finals slated to begin at 6 p.m. The day’s events include the 200 medley relay, the 1650 free, the 400 IM, the 100 fly, the 200 free, the 100 breaststroke, the 100 back stroke and the 800 freestyle relay.