Women’s swim races to undefeated conf. record

After two consecutive weekends spent in the Middlebury natatorium, women’s swimming (9-1) and diving remains undefeated within the NESCAC and against Div. III opponents. Last weekend at the Middlebury Invitational, the women hoped to squeeze in a few more fast swims before their conference championship meet on Feb. 15-16. After a long week this was no easy task, but as usual, the team came together for one final push before the commencement of championship season. Facing off against Middlebury, Amherst, Springfield and UVM, the women dominated the pool, posting many first-place finishes despite having swimmers compete in events in which they don’t typically participate. On Jan. 26, the women defeated Middlebury in their dual meet, 178-122. On Jan. 20, Williams hosted Tufts and Wesleyan, defeating both teams by margins of 198-100 and 194-97, respectively. On Jan. 19, the women recorded another victory over Springfield, with a score of 187-108.

In the last dual meets of their careers, the seniors led the charge. Co-captain Caroline Wilson ’13 had several impressive swims, placing first in all of her individual events including the 400 IM and the 50, 200 and 500 freestyles. Kate O’Leary ’13 was first in the 200 IM, with an impressive time of 2:09.80, while Rebecca Maher ’13 swam her way to first in the 1650 freestyle, finishing 45 seconds ahead of her closest competitor. The team was especially excited for Jenn Turner ’13, who finished out her season with best times in several events and fourth- place finishes in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.

“The Midd. Invite was really about the individuals finishing their seasons more than anything else, and they did an incredible job,” Wilson said. “It was awesome to watch them swim so well, especially the five seniors.”

On Jan. 26, while most of campus made a mass exodus for more exotic Dead Week locales, the women headed to Middlebury for its annual dual meet. Ending their dual season with characteristic authority, the Ephs swam to a 178-122 victory. The win was made possible by fast swimming across events and classes. Sarah Thompson ’15 had two exciting first-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle, and Wilson had a characteristically strong showing with victories in the 1000 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 200 IM. Katie Bennett ’16 was runner-up to Wilson in the 1000 freestyle, celebrating her debut in the event with a time of 11:00.07.

The women once again showed their depth even at their most exhausted. Breanna Nguyen ’16 charged to first in the 100 freestyle, with a time of 55.31. O’Leary and Tess Vorselen ’15 placed first and third, respectively, in the 200 backstroke, while Paige Haller ’16 and K.C. Ha ’13 went one-two in the 200 butterfly. Ha went on to win the 100 butterfly, closely followed by Anna Epstein ’16 in third and Maddy Holker ’16 in fourth. “The team did a great job of cheering and keeping the energy up,” said co-captain Liz Visconti ’13.

The women claimed their sixth consecutive Little Three title when they handily dispatched Wesleyan on Jan. 20. Impressive swims from that meet, at which the women also outtouched Tufts, included three individual firsts for Wilson in the 1650 freestyle, 50 freestyle and the 400 IM. In each of these events, Wilson’s first-place finish was followed by another Eph in second place. Thompson garnered the second spot in the 1650 freestyle, Emma Nuzzo ’16 and Bryn Dunbar ’13 followed in the two and three spots, respectively, in the 50 freestyle and Williams swept the top four spots in the 400 IM, with O’Leary, Haller and Kelsey Roggensack ’13 following Wilson.

On Jan. 19, the women took on Springfield, also at home, securing a comfortable 187-108 win. McKenzie Murdoch ’14 took first in the three-meter diving competition and second in the one-meter, while Michelle Higgins ’15 took third in both events.

Now, all that stands between the team and some undoubtedly fast swimming at the upcoming NESCAC Championship meet is two weeks of tapered training. As the end of the season draws closer, both the team and the coaches anticipate an exciting meet, the emergence of a strong NCAA team and the capture of a 13th straight NESCAC title.

The women will compete in the NESCAC Championships on Feb. 15-17 at Bowdoin.