Women’s swimming and diving conquers Middlebury and MIT

Caroline White '20 won the 1000 freestyle with a time of 10:28.59 against Middlebury on Saturday. Photo Courtesy of Sports Information.
Caroline White ’20 won the 1000 freestyle with a time of 10:28.59 against Middlebury on Saturday. Photo Courtesy of Sports Information.

Women’s swimming and diving (9—0, 6—0 in the NESCAC) completed its undefeated dual-meet season over the weekend, winning 205-95 at MIT and 183-111 at Middlebury.

The Ephs have now won their last 56 NCAA Div. III meets.Their last defeat came on Jan. 12, 2008 to Amherst, a home meet that they lost 152.5-147.5.

In addition, the Ephs have won their last five meets against NCAA Div. I teams. They last lost to a Div. I team on Dec. 1, 2012, when Fordham defeated Williams 166-128.

The event lineup consisted of more sprint races than the typical dual-meet, which gave the Ephs the opportunity to try out some 50s before the championship season begins.

The women began the afternoon with a relay victory in the 400 medley. The A-team of Caroline Conforti ’20, Megan Pierce ’17, Emma Waddell ’18 and tri-captain Lauren Jones ’17 led the medley with a time of 3:56.29, finishing three seconds faster than the Middlebury team in second.

The individual races began with the 1000 freestyle, in which Caroline White ’20 took first with a time of 10:28.59, proving herself a competent performer in more than just the breastroke events. Olivia Jackson ’17 followed her in second at 10:49.73. The distance success carried into the 500 freestyle, with the Ephs grabbing 1-2-4-5. Jones led the pack at 5:05.70, followed by White at 5:09.28, Emma Sawkins ’18 at 5:18.48 and Kristina Barry ’19 at 5:20.49.

While the Ephs are talented in mid-distance stroke races, Saturday’s meet provided the women the chance to prove their sprint abilities. Waddell claimed another victory in the 100 IM at 59.17, coming close to breaking the pool record.

The 200 freestyle concluded the swimming races for the meet. The Williams A-team of Dana Chung ’19, Delaney Smith ’18, Madeline Wessell ’20 and Jackson out-touched the Panthers by .08 seconds to win with a time of 1:39.08.

Tri-captain Ariana Ross ’17 once again dominated in the diving well, winning both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. Most notable was her 1-meter score of 300.75 points, almost 45 points higher than the second place diver.

Since Middlebury was the final dual meet of the season, swimmers had a chance to try new events.

“Swimming different events at Middlebury gave people an opportunity to just have fun and to give their best effort,” Assistant Coach Brogan Barr said. “The coaching staff was generally pleased to see team members embracing races in different events.”

“When we move people into secondary events we can still field a very strong lineup,” Head Coach Steve Kuster added.

On Friday afternoon, women’s swimming topped MIT 205-95 at the Engineers’ home pool.

The Ephs arrived ready to race with plenty of energy. They began the afternoon with a 1-2 finish in the 400 medley relay. Their dominating performance set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and energized the swimmers as they headed into the individual events.

In the 1650 freestyle, the longest individual event on the agenda, Pierce stole the show. She touched first at 17:15.91, her fastest time this season. Alison McNamara ’19 followed her at 17:33.47, almost 17 seconds before the first Engineer finished.

The women proved just as impressive in the mid-distance events. The Ephs took 1-2 in the 200 freestyle, with a photo finish between Waddell and Jones, who finished at 1:53.36 and 1:53.56, respectively. The 500 freestyle ended with Pierce victorious again at 5:07.85, followed closely by Wessell in second at 5:08.00 and Maddie Downs ’18 in fourth at 5:14.81.

After the Ephs dominated the longer events, the sprinters took their turn. The women took first through fourth in the 100 freestyle, with Waddell leading the way at 52.27. Behind her were Jones at 53.08, Smith at 53.84 and Erin Kennedy ’19 at 54.44.

To no one’s surprise, the women provided many notable performances in individual medley and stroke events. White touched first in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, besting her in-season time in the 200 at 2:19.86. In the 100 butterfly, the Ephs took first and second, led by Hare at 57.79 and Veronica Wolff  ’20 at 58.57.

Continuing her incredible performance at the meet, Pierce grabbed her third individual victory on the day in the 400 IM, which she won at 4:29.86 with a seven second lead. The Ephs also took second and third in the event, with Wolff coming next at 4:36.81 and Waddell immediately after at 4:38.26.

Ross completed another notable performance on the 3-meter board, winning with a total of 299.93 points. With this score, Ross proved that her routine was competitive not only in the NESCAC, but also on the regional and national level.

“MIT is often one of the teams that is our biggest competition, so it was awesome to have such a strong showing against them,” tri-captain Olivia Clark ’17 said. “The energy was great this weekend, and it’s really exciting to have another undefeated regular season under our belt. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence.”

The Middlebury meet marked the 26th consecutive win for the senior class. They have won four straight Little Three titles and three straight NESCAC Championships and have posted three consecutive top five finishes at the NCAA Championships.

“Obviously going undefeated in the regular season is great, but there is a lot more they are looking to accomplish,” Kuster said.

“We’re planning on going back to work on next week, fine-tuning some technical details and finishing out Winter Study training,” Barr said.

The first championship meet for the women is the Middlebury Invitational, which will take place at the Middlebury Natatorium Friday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. and will continue throughout the day on Saturday.