Women’s swimming finishes 5th in nation

Three weeks after a strong showing at NESCACs, women’s swimming took an impressive 15 out of 21 swimmers from the NESCAC group on to NCAAs at Miami University in Ohio. At nationals, the Ephs were led to a fifth-place finish by co-captains Michelle Kurkul ’08 and Jenna Barbary ’08, as well as Crissy Haley ’08 who returned for her fourth year of competition at nationals.

The first race of the meet was the 200 freestyle relay of Lisa Cucolo ’10, Sophia Sequeira ’10, Nancy McInerny ’11 and Olivia Card-Childers ’11. The squad placed 11th with a time of 1:37.51. Christina Metcalf ’10 was the highest-scoring Eph in the 500 freestyle (5:05.51) for 18th, as Ryan McChesney ’11 followed close behind at 5:06.45 for 22nd and Mary Wilson Molen ’09 came in 41st in 5:15.33.

As is usual for the team, its individual medley was strong throughout the meet, beginning with the 200 IM. In the championship final, Amanda Nicholson ’09 and Ellen Ramsey ’11 placed sixth (2:05.91) and seventh (2:06.24), respectively. Swimming in the consolation final, Haley took 14th in 2:08.71. In the 50 freestyle, Card-Childers scored her first individual points in 16th, clocking in at 24.29. The women finished the night strong by taking fourth place in the 400 medley relay, in which the team of Nicholson, Barbary, Haley and Card-Childers swam in 3:53.55.

Starting off day two strong with the 200 medley relay, Nicholson, Courtney Asher ’09, McInerny and Card-Childers teamed up for a third-place finish. The 400 IM was the best event of the meet for the Ephs as Nicholson placed first in 4:20.31, breaking the previous meet record of 4:22.75 and marking Nicholson’s first win at nationals. Ramsey and Haley also joined Nicholson in the championship final – the first year took fifth in 4:26.69, and Haley captured eighth in 4:32.23. In the 100 butterfly, McInerny swam in her first championship final, taking eighth in 57.64.

In the 100 breaststroke, Asher took 10th with a 1:06.00, and Barbary came in 25th in a time of 1:08.03. The middle day of competition concluded with the toughest relay, the 800 freestyle, in which the first-year and sophomore only team of McChesney, Metcalf, Sequeira and Ramsey raced to sixth place in a time of 7:38.90.

The first event of the final day of competition was the 1650 freestyle, in which McChesney placed 12th in 17:27.93 and Molen placed 18th in 17:39.26. In the 200 backstroke, Nicholson was again on her game, taking fourth with a lifetime best of 2:01.90. She was joined by teammate Ramsey, who swam 2:05.13 in the consolation heat to take 10th. Kurkul made it to finals in the 200 breaststroke, capturing 12th in 2:23.85, just shy of her best time of 2:23.01. Metcalf placed 17th in 2:25.13 and Asher finished 21st in 2:26.06.

The final individual race of the meet was the 200 butterfly, in which Haley, the four-time national team member, placed sixth in a time of 2:06.36 (earlier in the day she swam a lifetime best of 2:04.64). Anne Marie Zollo ’09 showed up strong in her best individual event as well, taking 10th in 2:07.22. The meet finished with the 400 freestyle relay, where the team of McInerny, Hancock, Sequeira and Card-Childers took eighth in 3:32.26.

“I think we had a very good meet,” said Kuster. “We had eight first-time swimmers at nationals, and 14 of the 15 swimmers we brought scored for us. Amanda Nicholson obviously had a great meet for us, and I thought our seniors finished off their careers very well. We’re pretty young, so hopefully we’ll be back here again.”