On March 18 through 21, the women’s swimming competed in the Div. III NCAA National Championships in Shenandoah, Tx. This was the conclusion to an impressive 2014-2015 season for the Ephs, who went undefeated in regular season dual meets and dominated the conference competition in February. The women sent a group of 12 athletes, including 10 swimmers and two divers, to Texas.
The Ephs started strong on the first day of competition, with co-captain Sarah Thompson ’15 taking home the gold in an impressive time of 4:45.13 in the 500 free. Lauren Jones ’17 finished 12th in the event. Emma Waddell ’18 opened her first NCAA meet with a second-place finish in the 200 IM, touching the wall in 2:02.58, and Olivia Jackson ’17 took sixth in the event. Divers Michelle Higgins ’15 and Ari Ross ’17 took 12th and 13th, respectively, on the three-meter board. The session finished with an exciting 200 medley relay, with the team of Katherine Bennett ’16, Olivia Clark ’17, Faye Sultan ’16 and Waddell touching the wall in fourth place, securing a NESCAC and school record time of 1:41.95. The women finished Day One in a strong third position.
Day Two began with a team and NESCAC record-setting seventh-place finish from the 200 free relay, consisting of Catherine Treesh ’15, Waddell, Sultan and Thompson. In the first individual race of the day, Megan Pierce ’17 finished second in the grueling 400 IM with a time of 4:19.23. Waddell touched first in the 100 butterfly, winning the event in a speedy 53.65 seconds. Thompson continued her impressive meet with a second-place 200 free swim, and Jones followed in ninth. The session concluded with a third-place finish in the 400 medley relay, consisting of Breanna Nguyen ’16, Bennett, Waddell and Thompson. The women remained solidly in third after the second day.
The third day of competition showed no signs of the Ephs slowing down. The first event of the evening was the 200 butterfly, in which Pierce touched fifth in a time of 2:02.25. The following individual event, the 200 backstroke, was another impressive event for the Williams women. Bennett finished fourth while Jackson followed close behind in ninth. Ross posted an impressive fourth-place finish on the one-meter board in the final diving session of the meet. The 800 free relay saw the Williams quartet of Jones, Nguyen, Pierce and Thompson fly to a first-place from an outside lane, winning the event for Williams for the first time since 2012.
On the final day in Shenandoah, the Ephs held their own in the battles for team and individual points. The 1650 freestyle was an impressive final swim for Thompson, who won the event in a time of 16:21.44, setting new NCAA, NESCAC and team records. Pierce finished second in the event, lending huge points to the women and setting the tone for an exciting evening of competition. Waddell touched third in her final individual event, the 100 free. In another thrilling one-two finish for the Ephs, Jackson and Bennet came first and second in the 200 backstroke, separated by only .01 seconds, finishing in 1:57.24 and 1:57.25, respectively. Nguyen then captured an 11th-place finish in the final individual event of the competition, the 200 breaststroke. The competition ended with the 400 free relay consisting of Sultan, Jones, Waddell, Thompson touching third.
Thompson was named Female Swimmer of the Year and Head Coach Steve Kuster was named Women’s Coach of the Meet.
Thompson said, “NCAAs was a great meet for Williams and a really fun way to end the season. Everyone swam really fast and dove well, and it was so exciting to see people drop time and place really well. It was really fin to get third as a team and I’m so proud of how the team finished the season.”
The women will lose Higgins, Treesh, Thompson, Tess Vorselen ’15, Molly Prindle ’15 and co-captain Erica Bucki ’15 to graduation.