Women’s swim, dive take first at NESCACs

Women’s swim/dive team dominated the NESCAC championship this past weekend at Bowdoin College. Besides winning the meet by a considerable margin, the women captured national records, pool records, school records, meet records and 12 girls qualified for NCAAs. The team’s enthusiasm and unity carried them through a truly incredible victory.

Williams finished with a final score of 1,830.5; Middlebury followed with 1,448 points. While the team was recognized for its talent and strength, multiple individual Ephs were also acknowledged for their performances this weekend. Lindsay Payne ’05 was named the NESCAC swimmer of the meet and Caroline Crocker ’03 was NESCAC diver of the meet. Crocker was also recognized as the diver who won the highest number of points over her 4-year career in the NESCAC. Zibby Stokes ’03 was given the parallel award for amassing the highest number of points during her college swimming career.

Head Coach Steve Kuster was named coach of the meet and Diving Coach Kit Callahan was recognized as diving coach of the meet.

This only begins a long list of this weekend’s accomplishments. The Ephs won every single relay this weekend and broke meet records in all of them. All of the relays automatically qualified for nationals.

Kuster sums it up. “This was, by far, the best championship meet that I’ve been associated with – both men and women – in my four years here.”

There was also an array of amazing individual performances. Notably, Payne broke a host of records in her 100-yard breaststroke performance (1:03.2). She broke the meet record, the Bowdoin pool record, the NESCAC record, the College record and the national record. Payne also won the 200-yard breaststroke (2:17.5), breaking the NESCAC record, the school record and the meet record. Payne will swim again at the NCAA meet in three weeks.

Twelve Ephwomen qualified for Nationals this weekend. The 100-yard butterfly was a particularly strong event for the Ephs. Stokes, Mary Stranghoener ’05 and Robin Kim ’06 finished second, third and fourth, respectively.

Stokes achieved a national “A” cut, which automatically qualifies her for nationals. Stranghoener and Kim both swam national consideration times. Stranghoener got her “A” cuts in the 200-yard IM and the 200-yard butterfly. Meredith Olson ’04 finished second in both the 200-yard IM and the 400-yard IM, finishing with national qualifying times. The Ephs were also particularly powerful in the backstroking events, picking up a huge number of points. Jessica Yankura ’05 and Meghan Faughnan ’06 took first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard backstroke and both qualified for nationals. In the 200-yard backstroke, Faughnan finished first, with Yankura following in second.

The NCAA championship meet has a long list of regulations, describing who can and cannot swim in the meet. Those swimmers which have achieved “B” cuts and are also swimming in relays that have automatically qualified can swim their individual events. As such, numerous Ephs who achieved their “B” cuts this weekend will be traveling to Atlanta for nationals.

Crocker won both the one-meter and three-meter diving events. In the 3-meter, half of the eight finalists were Williams divers, gathering a huge number of points for the Ephs.

Co-captain Stokes was amazed by her teammates’ performances and by persisting spirit of the team. “Not only did everyone swim out of their minds, but we had a blast the entire weekend, from the moment we set foot on the bus to leave for Bowdoin until the moment we returned,” Stokes said. “Our spirit and support at the meet was unparalleled.”

Co-captain Anne Mayall ’03 agrees. “I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Mayall said. “For me, the most special thing about this weekend was the team unity. It was a group of girls who were so strong in so many ways individually, yet they all came together to makes themselves and others stronger. All the hard work and dedication paid off.”

The next step for the Ephs is the NCAA championship meet held in Atlanta, Georgia on March 13-15. After this weekend, the women are increasingly excited for the national meet.

“Those of us continuing on to nationals are fired up to build on our swims from this weekend,” Stokes said.

“A lot of swimmers and divers have qualified and in particular, some of our relays are seeded in front of Div. III powerhouses Kenyon and Denison, which should make for a very exciting meet,” she said. “We’re also very excited to have our athletic director, Harry Sheehy, and our president, Morton Schapiro, making the trek to watch us swim!”

The women continuing to NCAAs will continue to train lightly for the following weeks and will travel to the Emory University for the meet.

The men’s swimming and diving team will compete at Williams next weekend for the NESCAC title.