Swim and dive finish second at Northeastern Invitational

Competing against four NCAA Division I schools, Williams swimming and diving finished in second place overall at this weekend’s Northeastern Invitational with 803 points mustered by the pooled efforts of both the men’s and women’s squads. Boston College (BC) took home first with 1,087.5 points overall.

Despite falling short of first place, the un-tapered and unshaven Ephs still managed to best teams from Brown (714), the University of New Hampshire (UNH) (630.5) and Northeastern (572) while eight athletes also picked up national ‘B’ cuts at the meet.

‘A’ cuts automatically qualify swimmers to Nationals, while ‘B’ cuts provisionally qualify them. There is no automatic qualifying in diving, as divers are chosen based on videos submitted from the pool of divers who achieve a certain point standard during the season. In both swimming and diving, qualification is based on best times and scores from any meet in the season.
The Ephs benefited from a strong showing on Saturday; after Friday, the men?s team was third with 114 points while the women fared even worse, coming in at fifth with 74 points. “I was very pleased with how we competed and raced, and how we carried ourselves as a group,” said head coach Steve Kuster, who was particularly satisfied by the ?B? cuts his team received.

Boston College surged to victory based largely on the talents of their men?s squad. With 615 points, BC bested the Ephs, who finished in second (495), Brown (358) and UNH (324).

The hosting Huskies, who did not field a team on the men?s side, put in a strong showing on the women’s end – with 572 points, Northeastern was the big winner in the women’s swim and dive competitions. The Ephwomen placed fourth overall with 308 points, behind Northeastern (572), BC (472.5), Brown (356), and narrowly ahead of UNH, which finished with 306.5 points. It should be noted, however, that the Bears were not competing at full strength, as many of their swimmers were at this weekend’s U.S. Open.

This weekend’s meet was Williams’ first of the season, as NESCAC rules prohibited Williams from hitting the pool until Nov. 1, though the other schools at the meet have been practicing since the start of the academic year. Given that the team has only been practicing for a month, many members on both the men?s and women?s sides found this weekend?s results particularly encouraging.

“We’re at a significantly different place in the season than the other teams, as we’ve only been in the water for a month while they’ve been in since early September,” said Kuster. “Certainly, if this meet were in February, the outcome would have been different. But, I knew we could compete with all of them.”
The team looked a little shaky on Friday, managing only one win in the men?s 500-yard freestyle race, in which Jeff McBride ?02 (4:42.37) and Ben Doob ?02 (5:13.54) placed first and second, respectively. In the women?s 500-yard freestyle, Cristin Brennan ?02 placed third (5:11.17) and Chrissy Milkosky ?04 placed fifth (5:13.54) out of 32 competitors.

Friday’s action featured strong finishes by Williams first years in the first meet of their collegiate careers. Bryan Welsh ?05 (2:03.98) was the top Williams finisher in the men?s 200 yard individual medley as he placed sixth out of 23 competitors. Out of 45 swimmers in the women?s 200-yard individual medley, Mary Strangoener (2:16.00) and Lindsay Payne (2:16.66) placed 14th and 15th, respectively.

Payne, who placed 11th (25.63), and Katie O?Brien ?05, who placed 12th (25.67), were the top Williams finishers in the women’s 50-yard freestyle. Nick Pepe ?05, who placed ninth (22.92), was the top Williams finisher in the men?s 50-yard freestyle. Micah Halsey ’05 joined Pepe with 13th place (12.23) out of 40 swimmers.

In the relays, first-years dominated the women’s 400-yard medley relay, which managed a fourth place finish with a time of 4:03.30. Jessica Yankura ’05, Payne and Stranghoener joined the lone upperclassman, anchor Meredith Olson ’04, on this team. In the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay, O’Brien and Yankura teamed up with Olson and Sarah Wilson ’04, en route to a fourth place finish (1:42.23).

The team turned things around a little on Saturday, however, and finished the meet in second place finish. Leading the way for the men was McBride, who won four events overall: 500-yard freestyle (4:42.37), 200-yard freestyle (1:44.71), 1650-yard freestyle (16:34.27), and 100-yard freestyle (48.68). McBride was joined by Todd Gamblin ?02, who won the 100 (55.18) and 200 (1:58.82) yard backstroke, and co-captain Doob, who won the 400-yard individual medley (4:09.69).

For the women, Stranghoener placed third (2:10.52) in the 200-yard butterfly and fourth (59.80) in the 100-yard butterfly, while Payne placed fourth in both the 100- (1:08.26) and 200- (2:28.71) yard breaststroke. Brennan placed third (17:55.32) in the 1650-yard freestyle and Olson placed fifth (4:45.09) in the 400-yard individual medley.

In diving action, Caroline Crocker ’03 finished in second place on both the one-meter (243.60) and the three-meter (237.80) boards. Rachel Gealy ?04 finished third in the three-meter (227.75) and fifth in the one-meter (231.90) events, while Sara Gilliam ?04 and Jae Cody ?03 finished fourth (225.10) and sixth (208.90), respectively, in the three-meter competition. Brian Katz ?03 contributed points on the men?s side with his fourth place finish (122.20) in the men?s one-meter competition.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will next hit the pool on Saturday for their first home meet of the year, against Wesleyan at 1:00 p.m.