EAST MEADOW, New York, February 28. THE No. 25 Harvard women's swimming and diving team claimed its ninth league championship with another strong performance Saturday, continuing to use its balanced attack to set three more school records and finish 249.5 points ahead of the field at the 2009 Ivy League Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center.
Freshman Meghan Leddy earned her first Ivy League title in the 200-yard backstroke, setting school and meet records in the process, while junior Alexandra Clarke's school record led another dominant distance performance for the Crimson with her record-breaking 1,650 freestyle swim. The sophomore quartet of Katy Hinkle, Katherine Pickard, Ali Slack and Kate Mills capped the meet with a record-breaking runner-up performance in the 400 free relay. Mills also set a school record in the 200 butterfly prelims.
Harvard finished the meet with six event championships, 10 school records and 11 NCAA Championships provisional qualifying times. The Crimson totaled 1,583.5 points, while three-time defending champion Princeton placed second with 1,334 and Yale also broke into four digits with 1,038 points. Harvard had finished second each of the last three years since claiming its last league title in 2005.
After yet another strong preliminary performance put Harvard in position to seal the championship, the finals session started in familiar fashion—with an outstanding performance by the Crimson's distance corps in the 1,650. Clarke finished second in 16:10.92, completing her rewriting of the Harvard distance record book in a three-day span, to lead four Harvard swimmers in the race's top five. She was followed by sophomore Christine Kaufmann, junior Katie Faulkner and freshman Catherine Zagroba. Alicia Aemisegger won the race for Princeton.
When Harvard was not showing off its depth this weekend, the Crimson was simply winning. In the 200 back, Leddy finished more than two seconds ahead of the field, knocked more than one second off the meet record and topped her own Harvard mark with her time of 1:57.51. Classmate Margaret Fish also made the A final, placing seventh.
Crimson sophomores were three of the top six finishers in the 50 free. Slack touched the wall in 50.98 seconds, followed by Hinkle and Pickard. Columbia's Hannah Galey won the event. The freshman class took a turn in the 200 breaststroke. Helen Pitchik and Victoria Pratt made their second straight breast final. Pitchik placed sixth, and Pratt was eighth, as Yale's Susan Kim won the event.
Junior Sophie Morgan led three Harvard finalists with a runner-up finish, her second of the meet, in the 200 fly. She finished the final in 2:00.62 after she swam a time of 1:59.87 in the morning heat and Mills broke her own Harvard record in 1:56.23 in the morning. Mills placed eighth in the final, three spots back of freshman Kristi Korsberg.
In the three-meter diving, freshman Leslie Rea placed eighth with 247.45 points in the final round.
Harvard wrapped up the meet in appropriate fashion, with a strong team performance that did not win the event but capped the weekend with a school record. Pickard gave the Crimson an early lead, and Pickard and Mills swam sub-50 splits on the way to a time of 3:21.36, cutting nearly a second off the previous record, set at the Georgia Invitational in December.
Penn finished fourth in the team standings with 948 points, edging Columbia (916). Dartmouth scored 630 points to squeak past Brown (627) for sixth place. Cornell placed eighth with 494.5 points.
Special thanks to Harvard for contributing this report.