NEW YORK - Columbia sophomore Katie Meili led the charge for the women's swimming & diving team on the first day of the 2011 Ivy League Championships in Princeton, N.J., as Meili won her first-ever Ivy League championship title in the 200 IM. It was one of a string of strong performances for the Lions.
The preliminary rounds saw several lifetime bests for Columbia. Junior Isabelle Vandenbroucke had an outstanding morning in the 500 free, as she qualified for the consolation finals, swimming a lifetime best of 4:55.24 in the prelims. In the evening's final, she finished with a time of 4:56.11, good for fourth in the heat and 12th overall. Senior Abby Reilly was also in the consolation finals, as she had a prelim time of 4:57.51. She finished the night 16th overall, with a finals time of 5:01.88.
Senior Ashley MacLean was the only Columbia representative in the 50 free, as she earned a spot in the consolation final. In the morning's preliminaries, she hit a lifetime-best 24.06 seconds to qualify for the consolation finals. She finished 16th overall, with a final time of 24.21.
In the night's finals, both of Columbia's relay teams did well. The 200 free relay squad of Meili, MacLean, Lacey Harris-Coble and Alena Kluge finished sixth overall, with a time of 1:34.04, while the 400 medley relay group of Meili, Annie Perizzolo, Caroline Lukins and Mariele Dunn finished fifth overall, in 3:45.66. Columbia also had strong performances in the 3m diving, as first year Liana Diamond qualified for the consolation finals with 248.95 points.
But the bright spot of the night was the performance of sophomore Katie Meili, who had a day of firsts. In the morning's preliminaries, she swam the 200 IM in 1:59.75, breaking two minutes for the first time in her career. It was also an NCAA 'B' cut time, and the fastest time in the league this season. She was the top seed heading into the finals, and Meili didn't disappoint, as she beat her own new PR, dropping a half a second from her time in just a few hours. But that half a second mattered, as the 200 IM was a close race down to the finish. Meili won the event in 1:59.20, just one second ahead of Princeton's Jillian Altenburger. The next three swimmers all touched the wall within three hundredths of a second of each other and Altenburger, and though it made for an exciting finish, it wouldn't be enough. Meili claimed the first individual Ivy League championship title of her career. The sophomore will be named first-team All-Ivy League for her efforts.
At the end of the day, the Lions currently sit in sixth in the team standings, but with plenty more chances to score points on Friday. The day will bring the 200 medley relay, the 1650 free, the 400 IM, the 100 fly, the 200 free, the 100 breast, the 100 back and the 800 free relay. Complete results, along with a live blog are available at www.ivyleaguesports.com.