Women’s swimming dominates at NESCACs

Women’s swimming and diving claimed its 12th consecutive NESCAC title on Sunday at Wesleyan, amassing an impressive 1923 points to secure the conference crown. Williams won the meet in dominant fashion, finishing nearly 500 points ahead of its nearest challenger, rival Amherst. The Jeffs ended the competition with 1430.5 points. The Ephs led the meet by 125 points after Day One and never looked back. The women took a 283.5-point lead into the third and final day of the competition and finished the meet emphatically, winning three individual events and one relay to secure the championship on Day Three.

On Sunday, the final day of the meet, Caroline Wilson ’13 set the tone for the evening by cruising to victory in the 1650 freestyle with a winning time of 16:58.10. Later that evening, the Ephs placed six swimmers in the top eight spots of the 200 butterfly. The podium contingent, led by co-captain Logan Todhunter ’12, included KC Ha ’13, Kelsey Roggensack ’13, co-captain Bonnie Patchen ’12 and Aly Levine ’14.

On Saturday evening, the Ephs swept the top four places in the 400 IM. Caroline Wilson came in first, winning the event for the third consecutive year. Completing the sweep were Katherine O’Leary ’13, Patchen and Roggensack. Later that evening Sarah Thompson ’15 won her first NESCAC title, claiming victory in the 200 freestyle, in a time of 1:50.60. Carolyn Geller ’12 placed third in the event, and Abbie Deal ’12 placed 18th with a time of 1:56.17. In the 100 breaststroke, rookie Molly Prindle ’15 added to the standout meet, placing third. Liz Visconti ’13 also scored points, placing 12th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.13.

Performances such as Prindle’s were what Head Coach Steve Kuster was hoping to see over the weekend, “I had said earlier in the year that if we were going to be as good a team as I knew the team wanted to be, that the sophomores and first years were going to have to contribute in a big way,” he said. “I thought they did exactly that.”

The first day of the meet saw the Ephs take a commanding lead, winning five out of seven individual events and two relays. The 200 freestyle relay ‘A’ squad of Geller, Roggensack, Todhunter and Catherine Treesh ’15 swam to victory and a pool record time of 1:35.13. In the 500 freestyle, Caroline Wilson took an early lead and held off the competition, swimming to first in an impressive 4:53.61. Thompson finished second in 4:55.61, and Becca Maher ’13 secured seventh in 5:04.73 to put three Ephs in the top eight finishers for the 500 freestyle. Williams also dominated in the 200 IM, with four Ephs on the championship podium. O’Leary surged ahead early to win the event in 2:05.67. She was closely followed by Stephanie Nguyen ’14 in third with a time of 2:07.32, Patchen in fourth with a time of 2:08.50 and Roggensack in sixth with a time of 2:08.67.

In the sprint events, Geller successfully defended her title in the 50 freestyle. With a blistering time of 23.64, the Eph sprinted ahead on the final lap to win the event by over two tenths of a second. In what was perhaps the most exciting event of the evening, the ‘A’ relay squad of Nguyen, Maher, Todhunter and Geller pulled out a dramatic come-from-behind victory to close out a successful day. After falling behind Middlebury going into the butterfly leg, Todhunter executed phenomenal turns to speed past the Panther she was chasing. Geller finished off the relay with a strong freestyle leg time of 50.8.

The remarkable team victory was complemented by several notable individual performances. McKenzie Murdoch ’14 was named Diver of the Meet after she won both the one-meter and three-meter, smashing Williams’ record on the three-meter in the process. Hannah Wilson ’12 was honored as the Senior High Point Diver of the meet, an award given to the senior diver with the highest cumulative score at the NESCAC Championships over four years. Todhunter was also named Senior High Point Swimmer of the meet. The senior swept the butterfly events and is the reigning national champion and NCAA record holder in both the 100 and 200 butterfly.

Kuster praised his team’s performance: “Overall I thought the women swam and dove very well,” he said. “One of our main goals was to be supportive and spirited and make the experience memorable. I would say they accomplished that and then some.”

The Ephs will spend the next month preparing for the Div. III NCAA Championships. Qualifying swimmers will compete in Indianapolis on March 21-24.