NEW YORK – One of the most exciting young teams over the past couple of weeks has been the Columbia women’s swimming and diving team. The talented group is off to a 3-0 to start the season after defeating a string of Ivy League foes in Harvard, Yale and Penn. This weekend the Lions will take their talents to Piscataway, N.J. to compete in the annual Frank Elm Invitational, hosted by Rutgers University.
FRANK ELM INVITE CENTRAL
The Columbia swimming core will race for the latter two days of the weekend event, competing on Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 24 at the Werblin Recreation Center. The preliminary sessions are set to begin the day at 10 a.m, followed by the finals sessions at 6 p.m on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
LAST TIME OUT
For the third consecutive meet, the Lions pulled out a winning effort at Uris Pool against Penn on Nov. 16. Columbia downed the Quakers 166-134 to hand them their first loss of the season.
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The future for Columbia swimming looks to be in good hands with a number of young swimmers having strong performances this season. Through the opening three meets, first-year Gabbie Toback has been nothing short of stellar for the Lions. The Merrick, N.Y. native, has collected six wins already this year, including three individual events and three top finishes as a member of the 200 medley relay squad.
In her first collegiate win, Toback set a Uris Pool and program record in the 100 backstroke against Yale. With a time of 54.52, she broke the previous record of 54.54 set just a week earlier by Harvard’s Danielle Lee. Toback also posted a first-place finish in the 200 back on the day and swam for a repeat winning effort in 100 back against Penn.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCKS
The first-year class is off to an amazing start in their collegiate career. The newcomers have combined for a total of 10 individual wins in three meets and have contributed to three relay wins.
Jennifer Shahar picked up her first win in the 100 breaststroke in the home opener against Harvard. The New Jersey native remains unbeaten in the event this season. Trudi Patrick has emerged as an early contributor to the Lions success with a pair of wins in the 100 butterfly against Yale and Penn. Both and Celia Frick have posted have also posted victories.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Senior captain Alena Kluge has embraced her roll as leader of the team this season. Her performance in the pool has continued to raise the bar for the Columbia squad. The returning All-Ivy League honoree has grabbed clutch wins in the 200 IM against both Harvard and Penn. Kluge has also tallied first-place finishes in the 200 breast and 400 IM in Yale meet.
The Lions early success this season has already begun to garner national attention. Following the first win over the Crimson in program history (163.5-135.5), Columbia received a No. 20 ranking in the Collegeswimming.com performance poll on Nov. 11.
The Lions topped their performance the following weekend with dual meet wins over Yale (185-115) and Penn (166-134) to jump to a No. 15 ranking in the latest poll released on Nov. 18.