Sprint, Backstroke Depth Lead Harvard to Sixth Straight Ivy League Crown

Photo Courtesy: Ivy League Athletics

Sprint, Backstroke Depth Lead Harvard to Sixth Straight Ivy League Crown

A deep sprint contingent and excellence in backstroke led Harvard to its sixth straight Ivy League men’s swimming and diving championship this weekend.

The Crimson cleaned up on the relays, winning all but the 800 free. With Umit Gures starring in the sprints and a pair of backstroke 1-2s, the Crimson scored 1,545 points to put down the challenge of Princeton, with 1,433.5. Yale was third.

Harvard has won every Ivy League title since 2017, with the 2021 meet cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has 29 all-time men’s championships, two behind Princeton for the most in league history.

Ivy League Men’s Championships

Ivy League Men’s Championships Team Scores

  1. Harvard 1,545
  2. Princeton 1433.5
  3. Yale 1052
  4. Columbia 975.5
  5. Brown 887
  6. Penn 879
  7. Cornell 695
  8. Dartmouth 373

Princeton’s runner-up finish brought individual hardware. Raunak Khosla scored 96 points to share the Phil Moriarty High Point Swimmer of the Meet honor with Yale’s Noah Millard. Khosla also earned the Harold Ulen Career High Point Swimmer Award with 380 career points, including four-for-four sweeps in the 200 individual medley and 200 butterfly.

Columbia’s Jonathan Suckow swept the diving events to earn the Karl B. Michael High Point Diver of the Meet. He’s won that each of his four years, meaning he’s got the maximum of 256 career points for the Ron Keenhold Career High Point Diver Award.

Harvard’s sprinters, though, ruled the meet at Brown University. Gures won the 50 freestyle in 19.36 seconds, a Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center record. Marcus Holmquist tied for second (with Yale’s Joe Page), and Ryan Linnihan finished fourth. Page would win the 100 in 42.73, but Holmquist was second and Linnihan tied teammate David Greeley for fourth.

The 200 free relay was a romp, the Crimson clipping six tenths off the meet record it had set last year to go 1:16.54, an NCAA A cut. Gures, Linnihan, Greeley and Holmquist comprised that squad. The concluding 400 free relay was closer, with the same foursome winning in 2:51.23, three tenths up on Yale for a pool record.

Harvard saw its streak in the 800 free relay that dated to 2016 ended. But the consolation was the Crimson winning both medley relays. The 200 squad (Anthony Rincon, Jared Simpson, Gures and Linnihan) went 1:23.79 to win by more than a second, downing the meet record set last year and coming within .03 of an NCAA A cut. Gunner Grant and Holmquist subbed in on either end of the 400 squad that went 3:05.51, another meet and pool record.

The second part of the relay equation for Harvard was the backstroke brilliance. Grant won the 100 back in 46.34 with Rincon second. He claimed the 200 back for the third straight year with a time of 1:41.43, Rincon again grabbing silver.

Gures won the 100 fly for the fourth straight year, his time of 44.91 downing a pool record he had set in 2019 but falling .02 shy of his meet record from last year. Holmquist finished fourth in the 200 free, two spots behind teammate Ben Littlejohn. Cole Kuster finished second in the 1,000 free and fourth in the mile.

Khosla delivered an outstanding valedictory meet. He won the 200 IM and 200 fly for the fourth straight year each and the 400 IM for a third time. He’s the first man ever to win four 200 fly Ivy League titles and ties the record for most career IM titles at seven (with Harvard’s Geoff Rathgeber and Dan Scevchik).

Khosla went 1:43.34 to win the 200 IM, nearly 1.5 seconds slower than the time he used in 2022. He led teammate Lucas Strobek in a 1-2 in the 400 IM, Khosla clocking in at 3:41.95. He downed his 2019 pool record in the 200 fly by going 1:41.72, leading Nicholas Lim in another 1-2 result. He also delivered the fastest split of the squad (1:32.98) to lead the Tigers to the 800 free relay crown, joining Lim, Mitchell Schott and Max Walther to a time of 6:16.77. The Tigers were in the top three in all five relays.

Schott took home a trio of bronze medals, in the 100, 200 and 500 free. John Ehling was a spot behind him in the 500, then climbed to third in the 1,000 free and second in the mile. Lim was third in the 100 fly, as was Tyler Hong in the 100 back.

The other standout was Noah Millard. The Yale sophomore dominated distance. He destroyed the meet record in the 500 free, his time of 4:10.62 hollowing nearly three seconds out of Brennan Novak’s meet record from 2018. It’s also an NCAA A cut. He won the 200 free in 1:32.85 and routed the field in the mile in 14:47.51. He also anchored the Bulldogs’ 800 free relay in 1:32.05, the quickest split of the meet to get them third place, and led off the Bulldogs’ runner-up 200 free relay in 19.88.

In addition to Page’s sprint medals, Yale also picked up silver medals from Connor Lee in the 100 fly and JP Ditto in 3-meter diving.

Columbia swept up the other five gold medals. Suckow cemented his place as one of the best divers in Ivy League history. He annihilated the field on 1-meter with a score of 437.00 points. That blew his meet record from last year (398.25) out of the water, and improved the Brown pool record set in 2013 by Harvard’s Michael Mosca by nearly 50 points. His 3-meter win was just as comprehensive if not as historic, scoring 434.00 points, a winning margin of nearly 75 points, but behind his pool and meet marks.

Demirkan Demir did the breaststroke double, setting a pool record of 52.03 to win the 100 breast to repeat as champ. He went 1:52.94 to win the 200 breast. Teammate Yu Tong Wu won the 1,000 free in 8:51.94 after finishing as Millard’s runner-up in the 500. Wu also grabbed bronze in the 200 fly.

The pool record Demir set in the 100 breast had been taken down by Brown’s Jack Kelly in prelims at 52.08. He went 52.16 in finals to finish .13 behind Demir. Kelly added silver in the 200 breast and bronze in the 200 IM. Teammate Aidan Wilson nabbed bronze in the mile, as did Lukas Scheidl in the 400 IM.

Penn picked up a pair of bronze medals via Matt Fallon in the breaststroke events, despite him entering as the top seed in both (and the meet record holder in the 200). Cornell secured a silver medal via Sebastian Wolff in the 200 IM and a bronze from Pietro Ubertalli in the 200 back.