Swimming and diving teams return to action against Yale and Penn

The meet at Penn marked the Big Green’s first time competing in more than a month.

by Andrew Doerr | 1/10/22 2:15am

by Daniel Berthe / The Dartmouth

The Dartmouth swimming and diving team returned to action this weekend after a month-long break from competition, competing in the Penn Invitational against Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. 

The team was eager to get back into the pool, but they were not sure they would be able to compete this week, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases locally and nationally. 

“As a team, we didn't really know whether or not we were going to go because it’s the first week back and there were a lot of COVID cases,” Leko said. “Until the day we're supposed to leave, we were unsure whether we’d go, especially since other teams were canceling their competitions.”

While the team may have been unsure about the status of the event, they came prepared, having spent much of the break training together and going on a team training trip. Rachel Zhang ’24, a swimmer, said she was excited to get back in the pool for competition and believed that the team felt the same way. 

“During the winter break and training trip, I think everyone worked really hard,” Zhang said. “The coaches really touch on those tough practices, so it was exciting to finally get in a real race and see the work that you put in.”

The hard work paid off for Zhang, who set a new lifetime best time in the 200-meter breaststroke at Penn. 

As the team approaches the last meets of the season, Joseph Moll ’22, a swimmer, said he was concerned about the physical toll that training and competition can have.

“[The training] was definitely a lot,” Moll said, “Especially because of all the training, your body is definitely beaten up in these couple of weeks in early January.”

Despite Moll’s concerns about being worn down from a long season, he was still able to place fourth in the 200-meter freestyle event — just behind Isaac Wiegel ’25, who finished in third. Moll, Wiegel, Matt Molloy ’25 and Tim Cushman ’23 also took home fourth place in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

The women’s team also had some notable moments at the meet. Leko said she was impressed with her teammates’ performances this weekend. She herself finished second in the 200 fly, third in the 200-meter freestyle and fourth in the 200 IM. 

“We had some really good standout performances by [Isabella Lichen ’22] when she got first place on the three-meter dive, and then our freshmen [Alyssa Palacios ’25] got first place on the one-meter,” Leko said. “We completely swept the diving competition, and then we had a few really good swimming finishes as well. I was happy with my performance since I got some season-best times.”

These performances capped off a solid outing from the team. Another positive note that the team felt was important this week was their enthusiasm and support when cheering on teammates. Zhang noted how the team’s energy is encouraging and something few schools can replicate.

“I feel like our team always has really good energy on deck,” Zhang said. “Even though we're definitely the smallest team out of all the Ivy League, I think sometimes we’re the loudest, which is really nice.”

As the team looks ahead on their schedule, the Tate Ramsden Invitational at Dartmouth and the Ivy League Championship are important events to cap off their season. Moll is particularly excited for the Ivy League Championship.

“We’re looking forward to the Ivy League championships at the end of the year and seeing what this team can do,” Moll said. “In swimming, it's all about the end of the season and how you perform.”

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