Women’s swim and dive earns fourth straight NESCAC championship

Women’s swimming and diving (10—0, 5—0 in the NESCAC) earned its fourth consecutive and 16th overall NESCAC title last weekend at Bowdoin. Over three days, the women set personal bests and broke meet and pool records, finishing with 1856 points – 489 more than second-place finisher Amherst.

The 2017 NESCAC championship began Friday at Bowdoin’s Greason Pool. The evening kicked off with the 200 freestyle relay, in which the “A” team of Delaney Smith ’18, Olivia Jackson ’17, tri-captain Lauren Jones ’17 and Emma Waddell ’18 took first with a time of 1:33.96, setting a meet and pool record. 

Tri-captain Olivia Clark ’17 represented the women in the first individual event of the session, the 50 breaststroke, and touched seventh at 30.21. The momentum continued in the 50 butterfly, in which the Ephs claimed first, sixth and eighth. Maia Hare ’19 won with a time of 24.98 and was followed by Maddie Downs ’18 at 25.66 and Erin Kennedy ’19 at 26.07.

In the longest event of the night, the 500 freestyle, the women demonstrated their versatility. Jones finished second at 4:54.67 and Alison McNamara ’19 followed in third at 4:56.61. In the 200 IM, four Ephs made the championship final. Waddell stole the show, taking first by almost 2.5 seconds with a time of 2:01.98. Following Waddell were Caroline White ’20 at 2:04.47, Jackson at 2:04.88 and Maddie Deardorff ’20 at 2:07.65 in third, fourth and eighth respectively.

Caroline Conforti ’20 placed fifth in the 50 backstroke with a time of 26.77. To round off the evening’s sprinting success, Delaney Smith ’18 took fifth in the 50 freestyle at 23.85, with Hare coming in seventh at 24.09.

Tri-captain Ariana Ross ’17 once again dominated in the diving events. Her score of 471.95 on the 1-meter board was 25 points above that of the second-place diver.

The night concluded with the 400 medley relay. The Ephs’ A lineup of Jackson, White, Waddell and Jones did just that, touching first at 3:42.79, a meet and pool record.

The women entered day two in first place with a 625.5 points. Amherst sat in second with 547.5.

Saturday’s session began and ended with victorious relay swims by the Ephs. To start the night, the A team of Conforti, White, Waddell and Hare set a meet and pool record in the 200 medley relay, finishing in 1:42.24. The 800 freestyle relay team of McNamara, Megan Pierce ’17, Madeline Wessell ’20 and Jones closed the night with another win, taking first by three seconds with a time of 7:29.67.

The women transitioned seamlessly into the later distance events. In the 1000 freestyle, the Ephs took first and eighth. McNamara touched first in 10:06.15 and was followed by Emma Sawkins ’18 at 10:32.44.

In the stroke events, the Ephs registered four first-place finishes. Pierce set a meet and pool record with a 4:17.02 swim in the 400 IM, beating the field by over five seconds. Deardorff, Franny Dean ’19 and Veronica Wolff ’19 followed in fourth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

The next victory came from Waddell in the 100 butterfly. She touched the wall at 54.14 with Hare trailing in third and Downs in fourth. As the Ephs’ sole representative in the 100 breaststroke final, White did not disappoint, prevailing with a time of 1:02.80. Finally, Jacksons 55.56 swim won the 100 backstroke for the women, and Conforti took seventh at 57.69.

The Ephs did not hold back on day three, winning every event. The night began with the longest event of the weekend: the 1650 freestyle. Last year’s winner Pierce defended her title, touching at 16:53.09. McNamara followed in second at 16:56.41. Sawkins also had an impressive race, coming sixth at 17:38.59.

In the 100 frestyle, Waddell earned another win. After setting a meet record of 49.87 in the preliminary session, she touched at 50.58 in the final. Jones’ 51.26 was good for second and Wessell’s 52.19 and Smith’s 52.39 earned fourth and eighth, respectively.

Jackson was unstoppable in the 200 backstroke, touching first at 1:58.44, almost four seconds ahead of the field. The next win came from White in the 200 breaststroke. She posted a pool record of 2:14.53 and was followed by Dean in fifth at 2:20.03. 

Ross concluded her NESCAC career with a victory on the 3-meter board, breaking a pool record with a score of 526.30 points. She will represent the Ephs at NCAA Regionals on Feb. 24-25.

The meet concluded with the 400 freestyle relay, in which the team of Jones, Downs, Smith and Waddell finished the weekend with a statement. Touching at 3:24.77, they beat rival Amherst by nearly three seconds.

Waddell was named both Swimmer of the Meet and Swimmer of the Year. Pierce was the NESCAC’s Four Year High Point swimmer. White was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, and Ross won her third NESCAC Diver of the Year award.

“I was really pleased with how the team performed as a group,” Head Coach Steve Kuster said.

Coming off of their strong showing at NESCACs, the women will travel to Wesleyan for the February Invitational on Sunday.