The men's swimming team will split up this weekend, with the top 17 swimmers heading to the Ivy League Championships in Cambridge, Mass., and the rest of the team competing at the ECAC Championships in Annapolis, Md.
Though the Lions have been relatively successful at Ivies over the last decade, they haven't been able to finish higher than third.
“No one has beaten Harvard or Princeton for the past 22 years in this meet,” head coach Jim Bolster said. “We finished third in seven out of the last 10 years, so that's certainly the position we would like to defend.”
The powerhouse Crimson and the Tigers are once again the overhwelming favorites going in. Harvard was undefeated in league matches this season and will be swimming in its home pool. Meanwhile, Princeton aims to become the first team in 50 years to win six consecutive Ivy League Championships and the only team to do so in the current format.
The two teams hold 85 top-10 seed times between them in the 14 individual swimming events.
The Lions will need to rely on team depth in order to fend off Yale, Penn, and Dartmouth and to avoid slipping past third, and the top performers—particularly the junior core—will need to continue to swim well.
Junior David Jakl led the team with 17 total wins in the dual-meet regular season, and holds the fifth-best time in the league in the 100-yard butterfly. Fellow junior Kevin Quinn has ended the regular season on a hot streak and is ranked third in the 200-yard butterfly. Junior Micah Rembrandt will be the top diver for the Lions, with 11 regular-season wins.
Columbia will need strong performances from some less-experienced swimmers as well. The Light Blue is sending five first-years to the Ivy Championships—the most of any team in the league. The fact that the Lions are only sending two divers rather than the typical three—thereby surrendering valuable points—raises the stakes even further for Columbia. The Lions only have two divers on their roster.
“There's very little margin for error. Every swimmer will have to perform well,” Bolster said.
For the first time ever, the Ivies and the ECACs fall on the same weekend, giving swimmers who were not selected for Ivies a chance to compete and prove themselves.
“If you swim fast, it doesn't matter where you do it,” Bolster said. “The end result is a lifetime best, which could get you to the NCAA or win you a spot on next year's Ivy roster, so everybody has an equal opportunity to make a statement on their training and talent.”
The Ivy League Championship will begin Thursday at 11 a.m., while ECACs will start Friday at 10 a.m.