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Women's Swimming and Diving | Jumbos open second half of season with back-to-back losses

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 08:01

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Caroline Geiling / The Tufts Daily

The women’s swimming and diving team opened the second half of their season with a pair of losses this weekend against MIT and Wesleyan, leaving them still in the hunt for their first win of the season. The Jumbos were outmatched Saturday against a strong MIT team, losing 213-80 in Cambridge, and came up just short Sunday, falling 156.5-139.5 at Wesleyan. 

Despite the disappointing results, Tufts saw several strong performances at both meets. There were first-place finishes from sophomores Sarah Mahoney and Laura Cui on Saturday and from sophomore Kelsey McEvoy and junior Sam Sliwinski on Sunday. 

Sunday’s meet against the Cardinals was the Jumbos’ best chance thus far at securing the first win of the season. McEvoy and Sliwinski both turned in great times for the Jumbos, as McEvoy took first place in the 50 and 100-yard backstroke, while Sliwinski won the 50 and 100-yard freestyle, in addition to helping win the 200-yard-freestyle relay. Nevertheless, Wesleyan still managed to edge Tufts by 17 points and send the Jumbos home empty-handed.

On Saturday, Tufts faced a tougher foe in MIT. Mahoney kicked off the action against the Engineers, winning the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:54.97, supported by a second-place finish from junior teammate Amanda Wachenfeld. Cui followed up Mahoney’s win with one of her own in the 100-yard breaststroke, where she was followed by freshman Sarah Elghor and senior Ellen Gage, who took second and third place, respectively. 

“Coming off of our winter training you never really know how you’ll swim, and the fact that my 1000 was a season best was really exciting,” Mahoney said of her first-place finish. “As a team I thought we had some great races and a lot of people surprised themselves. Unfortunately, MIT is an extremely strong team overall and we just didn’t have the speed to beat them.” 

Though the losses were disappointing, several factors were at work against Tufts this weekend. During winter break, Hamilton pool — the training and competition facility for both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams — was closed for repairs. The pool has been shut indefinitely, leaving the team without a home pool for practices or meets until at least mid-March.  

The swimming program has been fortunate enough to secure pools at MIT and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden as alternate training facilities in the meantime. Using these pools, however, requires 6 a.m. practices at the Malden pool or 9 p.m. practices at MIT. This drastic change in routine may have prevented the Jumbos from performing to the best of their abilities Saturday and Sunday. 

“The closure of Hamilton pool hasn’t been the most convenient thing to happen to us, but we have all been very positive given the circumstances,” Cui said. “I think our team will come out to be stronger than ever if we can get through this obstacle.”

Tufts was also without some of its leading swimmers and divers this weekend. Senior swimmer Jenny Hu and senior diver Sami Bloom, who have been prolific point-scorers for the Jumbos this season, were both out due to injuries, and unable to contribute in their usual fashion.

Hu was able to compete in a limited fashion both Saturday and Sunday, though not in her main events, while Bloom could not compete at all. Without Bloom, Tufts failed to win a single diving event for the first two times this season on Saturday and Sunday, losing crucial points that could have won the meet against Wesleyan.

This weekend’s events leave the team still winless as they enter the season’s final weeks before the NESCAC Championships at Williams College from February 14-16. But the Jumbos believe that they will be able to turn their season around and find success as they head into next Saturday’s match-up against Wheaton College.

“At times, it can be incredibly frustrating that we have not won a meet,” Mahoney said. “However, we understand that our team is a championship meet-performing team. Last year we had a similar record going into championships and came out third behind Amherst and Williams, and ahead of Middlebury and [Connecticut College], two powerhouse schools. Whether or not we go into NESCACS without a win, we’ll be a team to contend with.” 

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