Women’s Swimming & Diving Set for Ivy League Championships
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
NEW YORK – The Columbia women’s swimming & diving team is gearing up to take part in the biggest meet of the season, as the Lions head to Princeton, N.J., for the 2011 Ivy League Championships, which will take place in DeNunzio Pool, February 24-26. 

Columbia finished the dual meet season with a 5-4 overall record, and 3-4 in the Ivy League. Heading into the Ivy League championships, Columbia has several swimmers who could make waves on behalf of the Lions. 

At the forefront of the team is sophomore Katie Meili, who had a fantastic dual meet season. She currently holds several top five times in the Ivy League, including the fourth fastest time in the 50 free, 23.49 seconds. Last year at Ivyies, she qualified in the championship final of the 50 free and came in fifth overall. She also earned second team All-Ivy League honors in the 100 breast, as she came in second there. The stroke was a strong one for her in 2010, as she also placed fourth in the 200 breast. 

Meili is just one of the standouts in what could be Columbia’s strongest stroke. Joining her in the breastroke events are two seniors, both of who could contend for a title. Senior co-captain Mariele Dunn has been flirting with an Ivy League championship title for the past two years, as she’s finished second in the 200 breast in both 2009 and 2010. Last season, she also finished fifth in the 100 breast, and has been part of two relay teams that nearly clinched the titles. Joining her quest is classmate Annie Perizzolo, who will be participating in her first ever Ivy League championships. Perizzolo is the defending Division III national champion in both the 100 and 200 breast, and will be looking to test her speed against the Ancient Eight in both events. 

Columbia will also have several athletes in distance free events who could do well. Junior Isabelle Vandenbroucke finished 13th last season in the 1650 free, and sophomore Molly Dengler and senior Abby Reilly will both be looking to join her in championship finals of the distance free events. 

Junior Dorothy Baker, who clocked the fastest time for the team in the 100 back, leads the backstroke corps. First years Grace Senko and Alena Kluge have also fared well this season, and could help the Lions score major points in the back events. And in butterfly, a strong crew of sophomores and juniors will be looking to score points of their own. Last season, sophomore Caroline Lukins swam the fastest time in the bonus final of the 200 fly, and she’ll be looking to improve on that time and qualify for the championship heat. Junior Caitlin Rogers was Columbia’s top finisher in the 100 fly last year, coming in 12th, just ahead of sophomore Kristina Parsons, who finished 13th in the 100 last year. Both swimmers will be looking to improve on that in 2011, bringing more points home for the Lions. 

And in diving, any one of the Columbia divers could make a real splash. Juniors Stephanie Foster and Kristin Hehir lead two youngsters, Kathleen Furr and Liana Diamond, both of whom have a serious chance to finish in the top three on the 1 or 3m boards. 

Complete live results, video streaming, a live blog and recaps will be available here