A decade of pool dominance

The trend the women’s swimming and diving teams started in 1988 at the New England Championships was stronger than ever at this year’s meet held at Wesleyan University. From the first day of the meet, the Williams women displayed unmatched strength, racking up a record score of 1693 points, over 700 points ahead of the second place Amherst team. Incensed by a close second place finish to Amherst in the initial 200 freestyle relay, Williams sprinters Sarah Watts ’00, Jessica Stokes ’99, Erin Anderson ’00, and Amy Warren ’01, all later proved themselves a force to be reckoned with.

In the 500-meter freestyle, Williams began their high-scoring trend when all five of their swimmers qualified to swim in the finals. Purple and gold dominated the top places on the awards stand with Marla Robertson ’98 in first place, Tiffany Talley ’99 in third and Tory Nicholson ’98 in fourth place. Scoring in eleventh place was Kate Nolan ’99, while Liz Overbay ’00 and Erin Gately ’99 made a strong showing in the bonus consolation heat.

The 100-meter butterfly saw Katie Darling ’00 to a guaranteed spot in the National competition, with her third place finish. Charis Anderson ’01 scored her first points for the team in this event as well, finishing in seventh place. Moira Shanahan ’01 took eleventh place for Williams from the consolation heat, and Carissa Carter ‘01 dominated with her performance in the bonus consolation heat.

Competing against an unusually quick group of backstrokers, Jocelyn Sutton ’01 took fifth place for the Ephwomen in the 200-meter backstroke. Meanwhile, training partners Sarah White ’00 and Amanda Griffth ’98 enjoyed the fruits of their hard work earning ninth and twelfth place finishes.

Unable to find any suitable competition in the rest of the field, E. Anderson and Warren were left to compete against each other in the 50-meter freestyle. While Warren captured a meet record from her performance in the preliminary session, E. Anderson took first place and the record in the finals. Warren’s second place finish left little to be desired; with her closest opponent nearly a half-second behind. Scoring in the consolation final with swift races as well were Liana Thompson ’01 and Watts.

Stokes got a chance to flaunt her talent with a clear victory in the 200 Individual Medley, while Beth Boyd ’00 put in a great performance for fourth and Molly Cummins ’01 took eighth place. Rounding out the first days’ events was the 400-meter medley relay combo of Sutton, E. Anderson, Robertson, and Warren. The versatile quad decisively dominated the event while breaking a pool record that had been set by another Williams 400-meter medley relay team.

Competition on the first day was supplemented by impressive performances on the 1-meter board by Williams divers. Kristine Taylor eked out a first place finish by mere fractions of a point, while Heather Cyr took fifth place overall.

Going into the second day of competition, the Williams women had already set a precedent for purple and gold dominance of the New England Championships. The team scores told a convincing story about Williams victory, and while they knew they had plenty of hard work ahead of them, the Williams women were ready to rise to the occasion.

Unwilling to accept another second place finish in a relay, the combination of Sutton, E. Anderson, Stokes, and Warren set a meet record on their way to victory in the 200-meter medley relay. In a 400 individual medley, a race traditionally dominated by Williams swimmers, Robertson, Boyd, and Nicholson managed to pull off a 1-2-3 sweep. Gately added points with her strong consolation heat finish..

The 50-meter butterfly was yet another opportunity for Williams to showoff its sprinting depth. In an exceedingly close race, Warren, Darling, and Carter finished within tenths of a second of each other and took third, fourth, and sixth place. Also scoring points for the Ephs were Lyssa Castonguay ’01, and Watts, with their tenth and eleventh place finishes.

Swimming in the championship heat in the 200-meter freestyle for the Ephwomen were Stokes, Thompson, and Nolan. Stokes knifed her way through the yielding water to her second individual event victory of the meet, while Thompson took seventh place in a National consideration time, and Nolan pulled in close behind for an eighth place finish.

The experienced backstroke line-up of White, Sutton, and Griffith took on the 100-meter backstroke with vivaciousness. They put in a strong showing for Williams, with White placing eighth, Sutton ninth, and Griffith in fourteenth place.

E. Anderson left another mark on the record board at Wesleyan with her 100-meter breastroke victory, with Cummins putting in an excellent showing for a fourth place finish. The final event of the second day was the 800-meter freestyle relay, composed of Nolan, Thompson, Stokes, and Robertson. The Williams team cruised to a first place finish, despite a long day of racing.

Williams approached the third full day at the Wesleyan pool with an endorphin rush of enthusiasm. The Ephs’ opponents, who had already seen a lot of purple and gold on the awards stand, still did a double take when confronted by yet another Williams 1-2 sweep of an event. This time the top two spots were captured in the 100-meter free by Stokes and Warren. Thompson tied for the top spot in the consolation final, and Watts finished in thirteenth.

Engaged in a mile-long battle for first through third places in the 1650-meter freestyle, Talley fought her way to a second place finish, while Nicholson pulled in for fifth. Teaming up next to each other were Overbay and Lainie Holzapfel ‘00, a newcomer to this event. Their consistently smooth races led them to fourteenth and sixteenth place finishes respectively.

The now-familiar combination of Sutton, Griffith, and White finished up their backstroke marathon with a sprint. Swimming aggressively but with finesse, Sutton and Griffith took seventh and eight places in the 50-meter back, while White placed eleventh in the consolation final.

Unstoppable E. Anderson continued to re-write the record board with her first place finish in the 200-meter breastroke, and Cummins took fourth place in a close field. The 200-meter butterfly saw Robertson and Darling to yet another 1-2 sweep on the awards stand for Williams. Boyd finished off her meet with a sixth place finish, while C. Anderson took tenth place in the consolation heat. In the final individual event, the 100-meter I.M., Castonguay contributed her sprinting talents to the Williams point total with her sixth place finish.

Adding coordination and grace out of the water to the repertoire of Williams team talents, divers Taylor and Cyr competed on the final evening in the 3-meter diving competition. The diving duo made their teammates proud with their second and fifth place finishes.

Purple-clothed Ephwomen lined the side of the pool to cheer on the relay veterans E. Anderson, Robertson, Stokes, and Warren in the 400-meter freestyle relay, the final event of the meet. The talented group set a pool record in the process of winning.

For some, this meet was the capstone of a season, or of a career. Others will continue on to the National competition, held at Washington University in St. Louis March 12-14. But for all, the meet was an example of the powerful positive effect of a team.