Women’s swimming claims 3rd place at Div. III NCAAs

Women’s swimming capped off a memorable season with its second straight third-place team finish at Div. III NCAAs in Knoxville, Tenn. on March 24-26. Emory claimed the national team title with 612 points, while Williams finished with 382 points, just 42 points behind second-place Denison. The team’s finish marked the women’s highest point finish since the program’s first NCAA appearance in 1981.

“I thought the women competed unbelievably well at NCAAs,” said Head Coach Steve Kuster, who was named Co-Women’s Coach of the Meet at the conclusion of the NCAA competition. “The team broke 12 school records, five league records and two national records. The school records included all five of the relay records, and many of them by quite a bit.”

“I think without a doubt this year’s Nationals was the most exciting meet I’ve ever been to,” tri-captain Erin Altenburger ’11 said. “It was a great close to an already exciting season.”

Logan Todhunter ’12 started the women off strong on March 24, smashing her own school record in the preliminaries of the 200 individual medley in 2:01.93. She then proceeded to break her record again, finishing in 2:01.71 for her sixth career national title in the day’s finals.

Katherine O’Leary ’13 finished in 13th, while Stephanie Nguyen ’14 took 18th.

Carolyn Geller ’12 also broke a school record in her event, the 50 freestyle, with her sixth-place time of 23.38 seconds. The 200 medley relay squad also saw a school record: Nguyen, Caroline Wilson ’13, Todhunter and Geller combined to earn third.

The 500 freestyle saw Wilson slip to second behind Amherst’s Kendra Stern. Stern edged Wilson with a first-place time of 4:43.57, while the Eph finished in 4:47.98 for second. Williams finished the day in third behind Emory and Denison.

Wilson jumpstarted the women’s races on March 25, shattering the national record by nearly two seconds with her first-place time of 4:13.90 in the 400 individual medley. Bonnie Patchen ’12 came in just behind her teammate in fourth, while O’Leary finished in 11th.

Todhunter also claimed a national title in the day’s 100 butterfly, breaking the national record in her morning preliminary swim in 52.84 and then taking first in a time of 53.50 in the finals. Nguyen set a new school record of 57.07 in the preliminaries of the 100 backstroke, in which she placed 16th.

Todhunter collected yet another national title in the 200 butterfly at 1:57.61, completing her three-year streak of wins in both butterfly events at NCAAs. Patchen, Kelsey Roggensack ’13, O’Leary and Ha came in eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively.

The second day of competition closed with a second-place finish in the 400 medley relay and a third-place result in the 200 freestyle relay. Both the medley relay team of Nguyen, Wilson, Todhunter and Geller and the free relay squad of Todhunter, Altenburger, Geller and Olivia Card-Childers ’11 posted new school records. The Ephs held strong in third after the conclusion of day two.

The impressive Williams showing on March 26 cemented the women’s third-place finish. Wilson swam to a national title in the 1650 freestyle, dropping 23 seconds off her seed time for a 16:31.34 finish. Altenburger took third in the event.

Geller took seventh in the 100 freestyle, collecting a school record and All-American honors along the way, while the 400 freestyle relay contingent of Altenburger, Wilson, Todhunter and Geller capped the meet off with a school record-breaking time good enough for fourth.

Kuster emphasized that the six seniors’ contribution to the team has been an invaluable one. “We will very much miss our senior class,” he said.“They will be hard to replace.”

“As far as next year, [we] very much look forward to working with the returning group and incoming first-years,” Kuster said. “For as good as this season was, I know there are people who can perform better. I am excited to have another great season and hopefully make another run at finishing higher than third at NCAAs.”