After the first day of the women's swimming Ivy League Championships, Columbia trails leader Princeton by nearly 200 points and holds only a one-point advantage over Penn.
The Lions shouldn't have trouble shaking the Quakers—it's Yale that will be the Light Blue's primary competition for the next two days, as the two teams enter their annual head-to-head for heavily (and regularly) contested third place.
Here are some highlights from yesterday's competition and storylines to watch on the final two days.
1. Kluge's second NCAA bid?
Senior co-captain Alena Kluge certainly made her presence known. Her pool-record time of 1:58.74 in the 200-yard individual medley was nearly two seconds clear of the second-place finisher and cleared the NCAA B-cut, giving her a provisional qualifying time for the Division I National Championships.
Last year, it took a 1:58.51 to be invited and that time will likely only get faster this year. But Kluge has yet to swim her specialty, the 400-yard individual medley, which is later today. The 400 IM got her a NCAAs invite last year.
Admittedly, swimming fast, whatever the stroke, is no easy feat, but freestyle is such a vital part of the championship that the point deficit there is probably the Lions' biggest worry. Yesterday, Columbia took fifth in the 200-yard free relay, 15th and 18th in the 500, and 10th and 16th in the 50, while top opponents Harvard, Yale, and Princeton flooded the higher-level heats.
2. Freestyle Deficit
Junior Mikaila Gaffey put up a scorching 50 split yesterday morning in the 200-yard freestyle relay, but the Lions may find themselves consistently lacking that third or fourth swimmer to take the longer relays, not to mention the individual 100, 200, 1000, and mile distances.
3. Fresh Faces
Anyone who's been watching the Lions' stellar season might not be surprised by this, but class-wise, the biggest point contributors of the first day are, drumroll...the first-years. Two first-years, Gabbie Toback and Trudi Patrick, are already school record holders and should continue to stun today in their best events—the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly, respectively.
Who and what to watch for today:
- Alena Kluge in the 400 IM. The senior will try to defend her championship title, lower her school record, and put up a time good enough to earn another invite to the NCAA. She enters the preliminaries seeded only fourth, however, so she'll have to hold off two young upstarts from Yale and a Tiger in the process.
- First-year Trudi Patrick and sophomore Christina Ray should make it back to the A-final in the 100-yard fly, where each will have to drop about a second in a bid to overwrite Kristina Parson's record (set at this meet last year). Patrick already owns the school record in the 200-yard butterfly.
- The Lions' breaststroke corps may be at its best ever. Junior Mikaila Gaffey and first-years Jen Shahar and Celia Frick form a formidable trio: Each are seeded within the top five of the 100-yard breaststroke, and each have a legitimate shot at the title. This event should be a huge boon to Columbia's points total.
- In the 100-yard backstroke, first-year Gabbie Toback is seeded second. She'll have the lane next to Lisa Boyce, probably Princeton's best swimmer. That may push Toback to re-break the school mark that she's already lowered twice this season and land her on the podium.