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NESCAC Championships ahead for swimming, diving

Hu, Bloom looking to place in top three

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02


The swimming and diving team travels to Bowdoin this weekend for the NESCAC Championships, where they hope to place in the middle of the highly competitive conference. The Championships, which will start on Friday and run for three days, include 11 schools, each with 24 swimmers.

Twelve-time defending champion Williams is expected to carry the meet, although not without some pressure from Amherst. The two are ranked 10th and 13th in the nation respectively. 

The NESCAC has one of the fastest conference championships in the country, and, according to coach Nancy Bigelow, the energized pace of the meet is the right environment for athletes to drop time.

“There’s so much energy, and it helps you do the best you can,” she said. “We have a great tradition of swimming really well at this meet.”

The Jumbos are looking to this weekend as a chance to test themselves while taking advantage of the rest they’ve gotten these past two weeks. After completing the shave and taper process, the Jumbos are going into this weekend’s meet relaxed and confident.

Tufts has a few key swimmers and divers with shots at making it into the top-eight of the finals round, where most of the points are awarded. 

Junior Jenny Hu has been a force in short-distance breaststroke all season long, and is seeded second in both the 50 and 100-meter breaststroke events, where she will likely have the best shot at putting the Jumbos on the podium.

“I’d just be happy to swim faster than I have this season,” she said. “We’ve all worked really hard this season so it would be nice to post some best times.”

Hu, however, is cautious about putting too much emphasis on her seedtime. After her breakout performance at last year’s NESCAC Championship, where she exceeded expectations by placing second in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 50, Hu understands that the meet performance is really what counts.

“It doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in previous days, it matters what you do that day,” she said.

Hu is one of several Jumbo swimmers with a strong chance at a high finish in the breaststroke events, typically the squad’s deepest stroke. Junior Ellen Gage and freshman Laura Cui both have shots at cracking the top eight in the 50 breast and the top 16 in the 100 and 200, according to Bigelow. Along with junior Taylor Lentz and senior Kathryn Sullivan, the Jumbo breaststrokers are a well-rounded group with a big opportunity to place in multiple events.

Senior co-captain Christine Garvey is hoping to repeat her performance from last year and make it into the top eight in the 400 IM for the second consecutive year, but she is focused on staying within herself and having a strong swim.

“I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “I’m just going to swim my fastest and hope for the best.”

The squad is also looking to its freshman swimmers to pull through in a number of events, from Sarah Mahoney in distance freestyle to Sam Swinton in the butterfly. According to Bigelow, the freshmen have an opportunity to hit NESCACs without any preconceived notions.

“No one really knows them,” Bigelow said. “They can go out and do their thing.”

On the diving front, the squad is counting on junior Sami Bloom to pull through on both the one and three-meter. Bloom is seeded second on the one-meter and has the current highest score this season on the three-meter board. Senior Ali Maykranz also has a chance at placing in the top eight to finish off her career as a Tufts diver. According to coach Brad Snodgrass, the competition is tough enough that it will really come down to what happens the day of the competition.

“She is one of four, maybe five, divers that could win either board,” he said. “She certainly has a chance and really has the mental focus and dives to do it. We are going to go there, do the best we can, and hope for the best.

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