Men’s Swimming and Diving Enjoys Another Stellar Season in 2008-09

Men’s Swimming and Diving Enjoys Another Stellar Season in 2008-09


The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team posted an 8-1 overall mark, including 6-1 in the Ivy League, en route to a No. 20 national ranking and a second-place finish at both the ECAC and Ivy League Championships.  The Crimson also qualified two swimmers for the NCAA Championships and garnered 16 All-Ivy League selections, representing seven events.


The Crimson kicked off its season by sweeping Cornell (158-142) and Dartmouth (253-47) at Blodgett Pool Nov. 15.  A week later, the team moved to 3-0 by doubling-up Columbia, 200-100, in another dual-meet hosted at Blodgett.  Harvard then traveled south to Athens, Ga., for the Georgia Invitational and took second at the meet.  Jordan Diekema led the way with a victory in the 200 backstroke (1:45.97), as Harvard moved from No. 25 to No. 22 in the national rankings. 


On Dec. 19, the Crimson completed the first half of the year with a 4-0 mark, as the squad downed Arizona State, 121-108.  Bill Jones claimed the 50 and 100 butterfly races with times of 22.46 and 50.27, respectively, while Justin Davidson (26.85) and Simone Melillo (26.88) went 1-2 in the 50 breaststroke.  Harvard also had a 1-2 showing in the 100 breaststroke with Melillo coming out on top in 58.39 and Davidson taking second in 58.42. 


After returning from the holiday break, Harvard picked up a 188-112 victory over Navy Jan. 3.  The Crimson handed the Midshipmen their first loss of the season by winning 11 of 16 events on the day.  Zac Ranta won both the one and three-meter diving events, qualifying for the NCAA Zone ‘A’ Diving Championships along the way.  Ranta scored 296.47 in the one-meter, while earning 349.51 points on the three-meter board.


The Crimson returned to the Ivy portion of its schedule against Penn Jan. 10.  Harvard cruised to a 213-85 victory as the team won 14 of 16 events, including two by Jordan Diekema (100 freestyle and 100 backstroke) and Bill Jones (200 freestyle and 100 butterfly).  The Crimson also earned wins in both relay events (200 medley and 200 freestyle) to improve to 6-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Ivy League.  One week later, the Crimson remained perfect by defeating Brown, 169-119, in another meet held at Blodgett Pool.

Harvard’s biggest test of the regular season came at the annual HYP meet hosted by the Crimson Jan. 31-Feb. 1.  The team claimed three events on the first day of competition, led by Ranta’s dominating performance in the one-meter dive.  Ranta collected 288.06 points, 28 more than the second-place finisher. David Guernsey (1:36.16) and Eric Lynch (1:36.59) swam 1-2 in the 200 free, while Alex Meyer captured the 1,650 freestyle in 15:00.13.  On day two, the Crimson won three more events, including the 200 medley relay, as the foursome of Diekema, Melillo, Jones and Guernsey completed the race in 1:28.52.  Diekema led a 1-2 finish in the 200 backstroke in 1:45.16, while teammate Robert Newell touched the wall in 1:46.93.  Meyer rounded out the individual winners as he claimed the 500 free in 4:22.83.  Overall, the Crimson topped Yale, 251-102, but fell to Princeton, 193-160, for its only loss of the year.

Head Coach Tim Murphy and his squad opened the postseason three weeks later with the ECAC Championships, also held at Blodgett.  The 22nd-ranked Crimson, seeking its third straight ECAC title, recorded two second-place showings on day one.  The quartet of Eric Taylor, Graham Frankel, Rick McKellar and Tyler Holland completed the 200 freestyle relay in a collective 1:22.39 for second.  Evan Schindewolf (1:50.88) had a second-place effort in the 200 IM, as he was the first of five Harvard swimmers to touch the wall in the top 8 of the race.  On the next day, Schindewolf grabbed another second-place showing, this time in the 400 IM (3:58.50).  On the third and final day of racing at the tournament, Frankel took second in the 100 freestyle (44.85) and joined McKellar, Taylor and Holland in a second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (3:00.80).  Overall, Harvard finished the meet in second place with 512.5 points, trailing only Navy, which accumulated 703.5.


The team then traveled to Princeton March 5-7 looking to defend its Ivy League title.  Harvard opened the meet by breaking two meet records and swimming six NCAA ‘B’ qualifying marks en route to 360 team points on day one. Lynch established a new meet and DeNunzio Pool record in the 500 free, as he touched the wall in 4:19.91.  Later in the evening, the 400 medley relay team (Diekema, Melillo, Bill Jones and Guernsey) earned 56 points by breaking the meet record (3:12.30) and finishing second.


The Crimson shattered four records on the following day, led by the first-team All-Ivy performance of the 200 medley relay team of Diekema, Melillo, Jones and Guernsey.  The group set a new mark of 1:27.61, and gave Harvard 64 valuable team points.  In the 1000 free, Meyer headed a 1-2-3 performance for the Crimson with a record time of 8:57.28.  Eric Lynch (8:59.82) and Blake Lewkowitz (9:01.46) were second and third, respectively.  Jones surpassed the previous poll and Ivy record in the 100 butterfly, as he took second in the event in 46.12. The 800 freestyle relay team also placed second as the quartet of Douwe Yntema, Guernsey, Lynch and Jones had a collective mark of 6:30.96.


Harvard closed out the meet by grabbing first place in the 1,650 freestyle, as Meyer set a new pool record in 15:01.18.  Harvard finished second by accumulating 1,311.5 points over the course of the weekend, trailing only Princeton (1,663.5) in the final standings.


Meyer headlined the All-Ivy selections for the Crimson as he garnered first-team honors in the 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle races.  Jones received three second-team accolades (100 butterfly, 800 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay).


On March 14, Ranta made his second career appearance at the NCAA Zone ‘A’ Diving Championships, as he placed 11th in the three-meter event with a score of 295.50. 


Two weeks later, Jones and Meyer represented Harvard at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.  Jones, competing at the NCAA meet for the second time, placed 28th out of 47 swimmers in the 100 butterfly (47.11), while Meyer was 25th in the 1,650 free in 15:06.58.  He also finished 44th in the 500 free, as he cruised to the wall in 4:24.38.