Women’s swimming looks to underclassmen

Women’s swimming and diving took the NESCAC championship last year, but also fell to Amherst and Middlebury in dual meets for the first time ever. This time around, the team is poised to rebound with a more characteristically dominant season.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” said Head Coach Steve Kuster. “I think this year we’re as strong if not stronger than last year.”

Last season brought mixed results, but it was also marked by steady improvement. Williams posted three losses in the dual meet season. Then in the post-season, the team regrouped and won the NESCAC championship, edging out Amherst by 156.5 points to take its seventh consecutive title.

Finally at NCAAs, Williams placed sixth in the nation. Amanda Nicholson ’09 raced to second place in the 400 IM. Former captain Laura McCarthy ’07, Cailin Collins ’07 and Karen Olson ’07 made valuable contributions in their last college races. The team also benefited from the impressive performances of Courtney Asher ’08, Annie Ferguson ’08, Crissy Haley ’08, Mary Wilson Molen ’09, Lisa Cucolo ’10, Sophia Sequeira ’10 and Christina Metcalf ’10. Several Ephs posted best times at NCAAs, but the Lord Jeffs bested them again, swimming to second place behind first place Kenyon.

Although the team lost several sprinters to graduation, many of its top swimmers return with hopes of improving on last season’s results. Having graduated McCarthy and Collins, the team will depend on Sequeira and Cuculo for their sprinting talent. Ferguson, Metcalf and Molen will lead in the distance freestyle events. Asher and captain Jenna Barbary ’08, who had her season cut short due to an eye injury last season, will lead in the breaststroke events.

Supplementing the strong group of returning swimmers is a strong incoming class, led by Ellen Ramsey ’11. Ramsey, sister to All-American and National Champion Amherst swimmer alumna Margaret Ramsey, is expected to have an immediate impact in the backstroke and IM events, possibly even challenging Nicholson. Also highlighting the strong first-year class are sprint freestylers Olivia Card-Childers ’11, Nancy McInerney ’11, Becca Tyson ’11, Jillian Hancock ’11 and Ryan McChesney ’11, each of whom come into the season with impressive times. Taylor Stevens ’11 also comes in as a well-established diver who could help Kera McClelland ’10 and Julie Van Deusen ’08 score more points for the Ephs on the boards.

With this lineup the team looks much stronger than it did at the start of last season. If last season’s drastic improvements are any indication of this season’s potential, it seems as though the sky is the limit for what this year’s women’s swimming and diving team.

The Ephs open the season against Conn. College at home on Sunday at 12 p.m.

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