Women’s swimming looks for 9th straight NESCAC title

Women’s swimming and diving has become a NESCAC powerhouse over the past decade. Last season, under the guidance of Head Coach Steve Kuster, the Ephs won their eighth consecutive conference title, and with a strong roster and talented rookies the team hopes to repeat this season.

With such a long winning streak at the conference tournament, the Ephs definitely feel the pressure to claim the title again this season. “It is very important to us to always win the NESCAC,” co-captain Amanda Nicholson ’09 said. “It’s pretty impressive to be part of a team that has never lost the NESCAC championship, and going for our ninth consecutive championship we will definitely be feeling pressure to continue the streak.”

After dominating NESCACs last season (Williams beat second place Middlebury by over 370 points) the Ephs had an impressive showing at NCAAs. The Ephs earned a competitive 269.5 points to claim fifth place in the nation. Nicholson, who returns to the team this year as co-captain, earned a national title with her first place finish in the 400 IM. Many other Ephs claimed top-10 finishes at nationals.

Nicholson noted that the team’s biggest strength this season is its depth in every event. Logan Todhunter ’12, Bonnie Patchen ’12, Nancy McInerney ’11, Lisa Cucolo ’10 and Ann Marie Zollo ’09 will all be strong competitors in the 100 butterfly, while Ellen Ramsey ’11, Patchen and Courtney Asher ’09 will lead the IM races. In the 500 freestyle, Erin Altenburger ’11, Ryan McChesney ’11 and Christina Metcalf ’10 will score for the Ephs. “Those are probably our strongest areas, but all around we have a lot of young talent, plus a lot of strong returning swimmers and a lot of depth,” Nicholson said.

The team looks forward to many upcoming dual meets. “This year I want us to take advantage of our early season meets and use them to gain momentum that will carry us into the later, more meaningful parts of the season,” Kristan McIntosh ’09 said. “Hands down, the one meet that I can’t wait for is the Amherst meet. It’s been so close for the past two years. This year we’re swimming against them at home, and that works to our advantage.” Nicolson added, “We are also looking forward to racing Div. I teams like Boston College, and of course are looking forward to our championship meets: the MIT Invite, NESCACs and NCAAs.”

The women begin their season at Conn. College on Saturday.