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High Five: Men's Swimming and Diving Wins Fifth Straight Ivy League Title

Harvard men's swimming and diving competes in the 2020 Ivy League Championships at Blodgett Pool. It won a title that weekend, which it successfully defended last week in Princeton, N.J.
Harvard men's swimming and diving competes in the 2020 Ivy League Championships at Blodgett Pool. It won a title that weekend, which it successfully defended last week in Princeton, N.J. By Zadoc I.N. Gee
By Brahm Erdmann, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard University's men's swimming and diving team traveled to Princeton’s DeNunzio Pool last week in hopes of winning the program's fifth straight Ivy League title. After four days of electric racing, the Crimson emerged victorious in a closely contested championship.

No. 18 Harvard tallied 1,596 points, edging out fellow Ivy heavyweight Princeton (1,492) by 104 points. Both schools beat out third-place Penn (1,066) by a significant margin.

Harvard has not lost the Ivy league championship since 2016, continuing a run of success for head coach Kevin Tyrell, who captured his sixth title and the 28th Ivy title in program history.

Harvard did not hesitate to put its mark on the meet on Day One, taking first place in both the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle to sweep the two opening events of the championship in convincing fashion and put itself atop the points tally going into Day Two.

The quartet of senior Dean Farris, junior Jared Simpson, junior Umitcan Gures, and senior Raphael Marcoux set school, meet, and pool records with an NCAA A cut time of 1:24.06 in the 200 medley relay. In the 800 free relay, first-year Ben Littlejohn, sophomore Marcus Holmquist, senior Mahlon Reihman, and Farris registered another pool record with an NCAA A cut time of 6:16.19.

Day Two saw Harvard’s freestyle contingent continue its dominance, with Reihman claiming the 50-yard freestyle from lane one with an NCAA B cut time of 19.42, followed by Farris in second and two other Harvard athletes placing in the top five.

“If you've got a lane, you've got a shot”, said Reihman after his surprising victory. Not among the favorites entering the race, even he was in disbelief after seeing his name on top of the board: “[it took] me a little double take to realize, and it was just true ecstasy.”

The Crimson carried this momentum from the individual event to win the 200 free relay, with Reihman, Marcoux, Holmquist and Gures closing the night with a meet record time of 1:17.14.

Senior Jake Johnson also set a new school record in the 200 IM (1:43.82) for his second program record of the meet, but the performance was not good enough to match Princeton superstar Raunak Khosla.

Day Three was Harvard's most successful of the meet, with the Crimson tallying four individual event titles and a victory in the 400 Medley relay.

Gures won the 100-yard butterfly for the third straight season behind an NCAA A cut time of 44.89, setting school, meet, and pool records in the process. Harvard took three of the top five spots, and extended its win streak in the event to four years in a row.

Senior Dean Farris won the 200-yard freestyle, also for the third time and for the program's fourth time in a row with an NCAA B cut time of 1:32.67.

Sophomore Will Grant was next on top of the podium, capturing the 100-yard backstroke with an NCAA B cut time of 46.58.

The 1000-yard freestyle gave spectators a glimpse at the program's future, with first-years Shane Washart and Arik Katz taking first and third respectively. Washart won the event with a time of 8:52.09.

“I really just wanted to go out, easy speed, nice and controlled, and then really start to turn it on in that second half,” Washart explained after the win. “I was really happy with the way I swam it, especially after last night taking third place. To be in my home state, and being a freshman, it doesn't really get better than this.”

Closing the night with the 400-yard medley relay, Harvard won the event with an NCAA B cut time of 3:05.72, establishing new school, meet, and pool records in the process. The group of Farris, Gures, Holmquist and junior Jared Simpson helped the Crimson win the event for the 20th time, and the third time in the last four seasons.

The fourth and final day saw three Harvard athletes win their second individual titles and the team capture a victory in the 400 free relay.

Washart won the 1650-yard freestyle with an NCAA B cut time of 14:47.51, capping off an outstanding Ivy league championship for the first-year.

Grant captured the 200-yard backstroke, to add to his 100-yard backstroke gold with an NCAA B cut time of 1:41.43.

“200 back is my favorite event,” Grant said after the race. “I really enjoyed getting to score points for the team. It’s a pretty tight meet and the guys who had just swam the mile before me had really fired me up.”

Dean Farris finished a stellar four-year run in the Ivy League Championships with a win in the 100-yard freestyle in an NCAA B cut time of 41.97. Farris — who also contributed to four of the Crimson's relay wins — earned the meet's Career High Point Swimmer award.

Farris reflected on his final Ivy League Championships with Harvard: “It was pretty close with Princeton all the way — we haven't really had that in my three other years here. … I’m proud of our guys for pulling it out. In my freshman year we kind of built a powerhouse, and we’ve continued it from there. We have some great recruits coming in, so I’m really pumped to come back and sit in the stands to watch these guys.”

Harvard finished the championships similar to how it started, closing the meet with an emphatic win in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Reihman, Holmquist, Farris and junior Ryan Linnihan won the race with an NCAA A cut time of 2:50.40, setting meet and pool records in the process.

“[We’re] just living in the moment. … It was just ridiculously exciting, and I’m just happy to be here with these guys,” exclaimed Linnihan after the win, which was the cherry on top in an outstanding Ivy League Championship.

Over the course of the four days, the Crimson won 13 events, sweeping all five relays. Harvard tallied four NCAA A cut times, five school records, five meet records, and five pool records. A total of 17 different Harvard student-athletes posted NCAA B cut times over 40 events in addition to two NCAA B cut relay times.

Coach Kevin Tyrell was grateful after a sixth Ivy League title.

“The greatest thing this year was just to have a championship, to have all eight schools. … The league’s a great place to be, and we want to keep it going,” he said.

Tyrell highlighted the role of co-head coach Samantha Pitter and diving coach Matt O’Neill in the team's success. “[Pitter] is an amazing coach, an amazing person, and we’re very happy to have [O’Neill] with us on the diving front, who’s only making great strides with the diving program,” he added. “It comes together with the coaching staff.”

Despite the victory, Tyrell and the Crimson are already looking to build on their conference title in the upcoming national collegiate championship meets in Atlanta, Ga. The NCAA Zone Diving Championships will take place between March 7 and March 9, followed by the NCAA Championships (March 23-26).

“The next challenge we have is NCAAs,” Tyrell said. “We're really looking forward to that, and hopefully, we can bring some credit to the league.”

—Staff writer Brahm Erdmann can be reached at

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