Women swim surges to third at NCAAs

Women’s swimming traveled to the University of Minnesota for the NCAA Div. III Championships on March 17-20. The women validated on an already banner season and improved from last year’s NCAAs, moving up from last campaign’s fourth to third overall with a staggering 367 points. Coaches and athletes alike were honored, as Head Coach Steven Kuster was named Women’s Coach of the Year while Logan Todhunter ’12 earned female Swimmer of the Year and was recently named a finalist for Div. III Woman Athlete of the Year. The team was bested only by first place Emory and second place Denison while beating out long-time national force Kenyon for third place.

Todhunter spearheaded the Ephs’ weekend, besting her own national records in the 100 and 200 butterfly in scorching times of 52.94 and 1:57.47, respectively. Todhunter led an especially impressive Eph championship heat in the 200 butterfly: She and her teammates claimed three of the top five spots in the race, with Bonnie Patchen ’12 finishing second in 2:01.82 and KC Ha ’13 finishing fifth in 2:03.25. Todhunter’s third individual title came in the 200 IM.

Caroline Wilson ’13 was also a major force in leading the women to their success at NCAAs, claiming three national titles of her own in the meet. Wilson set a new national record with her 4:45.47 finish in the 500 yard freestyle, and also shattered the existing record in the 1650 freestyle with her time of 16:25.21. The Eph bested Amherst’s Kendra Stern by only .06 seconds in the 500 but opened a gap of almost 27 seconds over second place finisher Liz Horvat of Emory in the 1650. She also claimed first place in the 400 IM.

The women also provided thrilling relay performances. Starting off the meet was the 200 medley relay team of Ha, Todhunter, Lisa Cucolo ’10 and Carolyn Geller ’12, which finished third in 1:44.55. Todhunter, Wilson, Geller and Kate O’Leary ’13 claimed sixth in the 200 freestyle relay in just 1:35.06. Ha, Cuculo, Todhunter and Wilson took fourth in the 400 medley relay, while the 800 freestyle relay team of Wilson, Ellen Ramsey ’11, Joanna Hoffman ’10 and co-captain Sophia Sequeira ’10 finished in third. The team rounded out its performance with a fourth place finish by the 400 freestyle relay team of Geller, Wilson, Todhunter and Jillian Hancock ’11.

Additional women’s finalists included O’Leary in the 200 IM, Cucolo in the 100 breast-stroke, co-captain Christina Metcalf ’10 in the 200 breast-stroke and Hancock in the 500 free. Ramsey also represented the Ephs in the 200 IM, 200 backstroke and 400 IM, while Kelsey Roggensack ’13 swam the 400 IM and 200 butterfly. Also invited to the meet were Rebecca Maher ’13, who competed in the 1650 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 200 breaststroke, and Liz Visconti ’13, who debuted at NCAAs in the 200 medley relay and 100 breaststroke.

Metcalf was impressed by the team’s performance overall, as the Ephs put a capstone on an excellent season and a dynastic few years in order to peak at this year’s NCAAs. “I think we really surprised ourselves with how well we did,” she said. “Personally I never thought we would really beat Kenyon. I think this shows that things are getting more and more within reach for us and if we continue to approach the season the way we did this year, we can continue to surprise ourselves and everyone else with our success.“

Williams will look to continue this season’s success into next year. Though the women will lose nine swimmers to graduation, a strong and deep returning roster will hopefully lead the Ephs to even more dominance of the NESCAC and Div. III in the 2010-11 season.

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