Women’s swimming blasts slower Amherst; men clutch home victory with come from behind win in final event

The Amherst swim team survived the snowy and treacherous drive to Williams this Saturday only to realize that the real safety hazard lay in the Williams pool. As alums, parents and students looked on, the Williams men and women destroyed their arch rivals. The men avenged their 1998 dual meet loss against Amherst, and the women extended their winning streak.

The Ephwomen started the day, as Jocelyn Sutton ’01, Erin Anderson ’00, co-captain Jessica Stokes ’99 and Amy Warren ’01 combined in a deadly 200-yard medley relay to out-touch the Amherst team by five hundredths of a second. A second Williams team of Britta Hult ’02, Cara Yoder ’99, Charis Anderson ’01 and Rachel Seys ’02 took third place for the Ephs.

The winning tradition continued in the 1000-yard freestyle. While allowing Amherst’s top swimmer to stay with them in the beginning, distance mavens Tiffany Talley ’99 and Liz Overbay ’00 soon pulled ahead of the pack. Overcoming her injuries in an impressive fashion, Talley touched first in 10:56.35 and Overbay followed closely.

Williams packed another 1-2 punch in the 200-yard freestyle, with Stokes and Liana Thompson ’01 finishing in 1:58.2 and 1:59.34, respectively, leaving the rest of the heat to touch above the two minute mark. Amherst managed its first win in the 100-yard backstroke, but Sutton and Cristin Brennan ’02 were close on the heels of the sister of an Olympian.

Showing that even Brits can breaststroke, E. Anderson dominated the 100-yard event. Powering to the finish, she clocked in nearly a second beneath the National A cut and earned yet another trip to Nationals. Yoder took fourth.

In the grueling 200-yard butterfly, Hult pulled out a win and a National B cut. C. Anderson swam to third in a personal best time just off of the B cut. Janey Rountree ’99 followed in fourth.

A trio of sophomores — Warren, Carissa Carter ’01 and Thompson — challenged Amherst in the sprint freestyle events. In a close 50-yard freestyle race, the three secured second, third and fourth. After a break for diving, in which Eph diving co-captain Heather Cyr ’00 dominated the one meter board, the sophomore speedsters reunited for the 100-yard freestyle. Making a National B cut, Warren finished second, Thompson fourth and Carter fifth.

After Sutton and Brennan placed second and third in the 200-yard backstroke, E. Anderson, Hult and Yoder bested their breaststroke competitors. Anderson took charge of the race from the start, built her lead throughout, and finished with a National A cut. Hult achieved another B cut with her 2:28.08.

In the 500-yard freestyle, three tough-as-nails Ephs humiliated the ’Herst. Despite a case of the flu and the fatigue of two backstroke races, Brennan still triumphed in the 500. Overbay finished a close second and Rountree touched in fourth, completing the “Iron Cross” of events in style.

The most impressive event of the women’s meet was yet to come — the 100-yard butterfly. In only her third time ever swimming the event at Williams, Stokes sped to a blistering time of 58.38. Not only did she break the one minute barrier for her first time ever, she bettered a four year old team record set by national champion butterflyer Marla Robertson ’98. C. Anderson and Carter swam excellent times, earning third and fourth.

In the meter diving, Cyr won, while frosh Niki Cosgrove and Rebecca Steuer flipped their way to fourth and fifth.

In the 200-yard individual medley, Stokes returned for another win and National B time. Kicking it in on the breaststroke and freestyle, Hult placed third.

By the last event of the meet, Williams had so utterly dazed and confused the Lady Jeffs with their speed and spirit that the Amherst 200-yard freestyle A relay team swam the wrong event. The Williams teams coasted to first and third, and the Lady Jeffs finished the event several minutes later. The Williams women ended the meet as they began it: far ahead of the defectors. The final score was 176-118.

More havoc was yet to be wreaked on Amherst. It was time for the score to be settled between the Williams men and the Amherst boys. The meet was swum in the traditional short format, and the lead changed hands after almost every event. In the nail-biting fashion that seems to have become their trademark, the Ephmen brought it down to the very last leg of the very last relay.

When the cheers of “W-I,” the ringing of cow bells, and the din of applause had subsided, the starter released the eight backstrokers of the 400 Medly Relay. Todd Gamblin ’02 stayed with the Amherst swimmer for the first 50 yards, but he fell behind in the next 50. He left his teammates, co-captain Jon Shade ’99, Jason Frink ’00 and Fred Licon ’99, with ground to cover. Despite Licon’s amazing finish, they could not catch Amherst, and they placed second. The Williams B team of Geoff Allen ’01, Don Wood ’00, Jeremy Faust ’01 and Jamie Mackay ’01 added some much-needed third place points, but the Ephmen had their work cut out for them.

In the 1000-yard freestyle, Cyrus King ’00 achieved a win for the Ephs. King swam a smart race, staying with the Amherst men on either side of him until the 700 yard mark. He then pulled ahead and defeated them by a body length. Ben Doob ’02 held off his Amherst competitor to place fourth.

Following King’s example, Jeff McBride ’02 took his race out a little slower than the Amherst swimmer, but he stayed within striking distance. He was exactly tied with the Amherst swimmer at the 150 yard mark, and then he surged ahead to take first. Dan Morales ’02 surprised himself and the ’Herst by placing third from one of the outside lanes. Co-captain Mike Hodel ’99 finished a close fourth.

Dropping the distance down another notch did not faze the Ephmen, as Licon decisively dominated the 50-yard freestyle. Alex Poole ’00 and John Cole ’00 came in fourth and fifth.

The Ephs seemed to have set the agenda, but the 200-yard Individual Medley was a rough event. Amherst took first and second, while Brian Strickler ’02, Frink, and Gamblin rounded out the placing in third, fourth, and fifth. The seven points that Amherst gained on Williams in that event put them within two points of the Ephs.

The pressure was on divers Chris Wendell ’00, Barry Gross ’02, Mike Gross ’02 and Alex Golden ’02 for the one meter. After his Danish detour, co-captain Wendell dove well, but was slightly outscored by the Amherst diver. The other three followed. Diving ended with Williams still ahead by two points.

Unfortunately, the 200-yard butterfly proved to be another tough race. Amherst touched in first, second and fourth, with Frink and Morales sliding in at third and fifth. The Ephs fared better in the 100-yard freestyle, with Tom Pickard ’01 taking second, Poole third and Cole fifth, but the score afterwards was still Amherst 79- Williams 70.

However, Cyrus King then came through once again. He established an early lead in the 200-yard backstroke, and won it with a National B cut of 1:54.27. Gamblin had an excellent swim, passing his Amherst competitor in the last few lengths to place second and re-make his National B cut. Michael Simerman ’02 completed the strong Eph showing by out-touching the nearest Lord Jeff for fourth place. The score at the end of the 200 Backstroke: Williams 85- Amherst 83. The tide had turned.

In the next event, the 500-yard freestyle, McBride took charge from the outset, and won by a good margin. Doob rallied in the last 50 to beat an Amherst swimmer and place fifth. Williams kept its lead.

All attention then turned to three meter diving. Wendell again performed well, falling short of the Amherst diver and his National cut by only a few points. The Gross twins also scored for the Ephs.

Williams proved itself stocked with breaststrokers in the 200. Though Amherst took first, Strickler, Elliott Gansner ’02, Shade and Wood shut out the rest of the Jeffs, placing second, third, fourth and fifth. Williams outscored Amherst by one point in the 200-yard breast.

Entering the last event, Williams was two points ahead. The team of King, Mackay, McBride and Licon had to place first in the 400-yard Freestyle Relay to win the meet. In a scenario reminiscent of last year’s dual meet and last year’s New Englands, it all came down to this. King swam a strong first leg, touching just ahead of the Amherst swimmer. Mackay had a slow start, so he fell slightly behind, but he caught up in the next four laps. McBride regained some ground, but not the lead. It was all up to Fred Licon. Licon had an explosive start. He quickly overcame the Amherst swimmer and pulled ahead by a body length and a half. He finished the race in first, capturing the victory for both his relay and the team. The B team contributed third place points to bring the final point total to Williams 126 – Amherst 115.

The exciting day came to a close, and Williams emerged triumphant. Both teams maintained their perfect season records and earned yet another Little Three title.

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