Last week, 10 swimmers and one diver traveled to Oxford, Ohio to compete in the Division III National Championships hosted by the College of Wooster. After three thrilling days of competition the Ephwomen claimed third place with a total of 355.5 points. Perennial powerhouse Kenyon College won their sixteenth consecutive championship title with 664.5 points and Denison University was second with 503 points. Williams narrowly edged out rival UC San Diego, who finished fourth with 348 points.
In addition to their team success, the Ephwomen return to the Purple Valley with two national champions and ten All-Americans. Senior co-captain Jessica Stokes successfully defended her national title in the 200-yard individual medley, while junior Erin Anderson repeated as national champion in the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes for the third consecutive year.
Stokes and E. Anderson were All-American as were Heather Cyr ’00, Carissa Carter ’01, Jocelyn Sutton ’01, Liana Thompson ’01, Amy Warren ’01, Cristin Brennan ’02 and Britta Hult ’02. In addition, sophomore Charis Anderson was an All-American Honorable Mention.
Williams got off to a quick start on the first day of competition as the 200-yard freestyle relay team of E. Anderson, Thompson, Carter and Warren placed third in 1:36.76. Only Denison and Kenyon were faster. Keeping the momentum going, Brennan swam a season’s best time of 4:58.35 in the 500-yard freestyle to take second.
Stokes took the title in the 200-yard individual medley with a blistering 2:04.99. She took the lead early and never looked back en route to her second national title in this event. Swimming in the consolation final of the individual medley, Hult placed thirteenth in 2:10.20.
In the 1-meter diving competition, lone Eph diver Cyr contributed some critical points to the team effort as she finished ninth with 322.15 points. Finishing the first day of competition, the 400-yard medley relay team of Sutton, E. Anderson, Stokes and Warren swam a fast 3:53.79 to take second. In this relay Denison was first and Kenyon was disqualified when one of their swimmers jumped on her exchange.
Ending day one, Williams was in third place behind Denison and Kenyon, and much closer to both of those teams than anyone would have expected.
Opening day two, Sutton, E. Anderson, Stokes and Carter swam to third in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:47.62. Again only Kenyon and Denison were faster. Hult began the individual events in style, placing eighth in the 400-yard individual medley with a quick 4:36.57.
The 100-yard butterfly was a strong event for the Ephs as three women qualified to swim in the finals. Leading the charge was Stokes, who flew through the event in 56.95, good for second place. Her time was also a new school record by over a second. Swimming in the consolation final, Warren tied for thirteenth with a time of 58.95. C. Anderson had a strong swim to place fifteenth in 59.34.
Brennan represented the Ephs well in the 200-yard freestyle swimming a personal best time of 1:53.12 to take fifth place. Next to compete was E. Anderson, who successfully defended her national title in the 100-yard breaststroke, winning with a time of 1:03.83.
To wrap up day two, Brennan, Warren, Thompson and Stokes combined to swim the 800-yard freestyle relay. In fourth for the majority of the race, Stokes surged in the last 50 yards to pass the UC San Diego swimmer and pull the Ephs into third place. Overall it was the closest relay event of the meet, as a mere second and a half separated the top four teams. The Ephs’ third place time of 7:36.62 lowered the school record by an impressive two seconds.
Heading into day three, the Ephwomen were in third place, twenty points ahead of UC San Diego. Kenyon and Denison had both surged ahead in the team scores. The goal for the day was to maintain third.
Brennan got the Ephs started on the right note as she obliterated the school record in the 1650-yard freestyle with her second place 17:05.21. Stokes led the Ephs in the 100-yard freestyle, winning the consolation final (ninth) in 52.31, while Warren tied for fifteenth in 53.07.
The 200-yard breaststroke was the event that the Ephwomen were worried about in their fight for third with UCSD because UCSD had four people swimming that event to Williams’ one. The one person, however, was E. Anderson, who successfully defended her national title with a fast 2:19.19. Her time was a meet record and a new school record.
Down by just a few points in the team race after the breaststroke, C. Anderson did her part in securing third for the team as she touched out the only UCSD swimmer in the 200-yard butterfly. C. Anderson’s time of 2:10.73 placed her fourteenth.
With two events left in the meet it was up to diver Cyr to lift the Ephs above UC San Diego. She did so in style, placing fifth in the 3-meter diving competition with 438.75 points.
Back in third to stay, the Ephs could relax a little bit and enjoy the last event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay. E. Anderson, Thompson, Warren and Stokes finished the race with a time of 4:32.54 and fourth place. Kenyon, Denison and UCSD were the top three teams in that event.
Reflecting on the weekend, Stokes emphasized that the Williams women performed at a level that few outsiders expected of them. “We had a terrific weekend. No one expected us to do as well as we did. The odds were completely against us; that became very clear when each team stood on the podium, and we were significantly smaller than the other ‘top four’ teams.” In fact, Williams was the only ‘top four’ team not to have a full complement of seventeen swimmers.
Coach Carl Samuelson, too, was pleased with the weekend, commenting “we had a hell of a meet.” However, the meet may best be summed up by a comment that Samuelson made before finals on Saturday when he quipped, “I always know we’re doing well when the other coaches in New England stop talking to me. Well, here they haven’t really been saying much to me.”