NEW YORK - The Columbia women’s swimming and diving team jumped into the 2013-14 season with a splash on Saturday, Nov. 9, defeating Harvard for the first time in program history at Uris Pool. In an exciting season home opener, despite five pool records by the Crimson, the Lions grinded out a victory over the defending two-time Ivy League champions,163.5 – 136.5.
“This is an extremely exciting moment for the program,” said Columbia head coach Diana Caskey. “A lot of the credit goes to the senior leadership that has made the whole team accountable.”
The young talent of the Lions made its presence known throughout the meet on Saturday. In the first swimming event of the day, Columbia grabbed a win in the 200 medley relay with a squad comprised of three first-years in Gabrielle Toback, Jennifer Shahar, Trudi Patrick and sophomore Christina Ray, combining for a time of 1:42.15.
Shahar put together an impressive performance in her first collegiate meet, adding a first-place finish in the 100 breastroke. The New Jersey native led a 1-2-3 sweep in the event with a time of 1:02.54, followed by first-year Celia Frick in second place at 1:03.09 and junior Mikaila Gaffey in third place at 1:04.55.
Frick was another first-year who shined bright on Saturday. She went on to swim her way to a victory in the 200 breaststroke with a top time of 2:17.30.
Sophomore Kristine Ng led another powerful Columbia performance in the 200 butterfly with a winning time of 2:02.61. Patrick grabbed runner-up honors at 2:02.95 and Aileen Smith completed the sweep in third place at 2:05.09.
The Lions tallied big points in the 100 freestyle behind a first-place tie from sophomore Lily Morris and a win by Ray in the 100 butterfly at 55.12. Ray was one of the many solid contributors on the day, also earning a runner-up time of 23.94 in the 50 freestyle. Daniela Rueda added a 1650 freestyle second-place time of 16:53.42, Patrick was runner-up in the 100 fly at 56.10 and sophomore Mallory Mckeron was runner-up in the 500 freestyle at 4:58.46.
The Crimson highlighted its first meet of the season by setting five Uris Pool records. Danielle Lee set pool records in both the 100 backstroke (54.54) and 200 backstroke (1:58.88). The sophomore broke both records that were set by Columbia’s Alena Kluge last season. In the 1650 freestyle, Ashlee Korbeg hit the wall with a time of 16:40.24 to beat the 31-year old record of 16:44.25. The fourth new milestone was set during the final event of the day in the 400 freestyle relay (3:27.25) by the Crimson's Sara Li, Sarah Sumner, Daniela Johnson and Lee. Victoria Chan added another pool record in the 200 free with a time of 1:46.80
Junior Alyssa Menz led the diving core with a second-place finish in the 3-meter dive with 278.48 points and the 1-meter dive with 265.60 points.
With the Lions maintaining a slight lead for most of the meet, Columbia headed into the penultimate event in the 200 IM for a chance to clinch the win. Senior captain Alena Kluge led the charge with a winning time of 2:02.29, followed by Frick in second-place at 2:03.15. Columbia moves to 1-0 overall and in the Ivy League with the victory.
“We are going to enjoy it for an hour and the get back to business, but we are extremely happy,” said Caskey.
The Lions are back in action on Friday, Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. to host Ivy League foe Yale.