Women’s Swimming and Diving | Jumbos’ season ends with strong finish
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 09:03
Women’s swimming lived up to the high expectations set by last year’s squad and the years before them by placing third in NESCACs and sending a relay squad to the NCAA Championships as they have done in past years.
Going into NESCAC weekend, coach Nancy Bigelow was hopeful that her squad would be able to place fifth, but the Jumbos surprised their coach and themselves as almost all swimmers recorded new best times for the season.
“Overall I’m more than thrilled with the season,” Bigelow said. “It more than met expectations. The fact that we were third was incredible.”
Despite losing many strong seniors after last year and suffering from some illnesses early on, the team pulled together at NESCACs for a come−from−behind win over Middlebury.
Sophomores Kathryn Coniglio and Samantha Sliwinski and seniors Christine Garvey and Elizabeth Grainger, who is also a news editor at the Daily, qualified for Nationals in the 800 meter freestyle relay, and will swim several other events at the meet. They are currently seeded tenth in the 800 after dropping almost 16 seconds at NESCACs.
The NESCAC championship was a successful end to a season that showed consistent improvement for the Jumbos.
Tufts started off the season with a tough schedule and lost against top−ranked Div. III schools such as Conn. College, Keene State and MIT, although they fared better against Wellesley and Wheaton during their only two home meets of the season.
Their annual winter−break trip to Puerto Rico and the hard work the swimmers put in as a team finally paid off, they said, especially in the last meet of the season. According to Bigelow, Tufts has a history of performing well at NESCACs, and this year was no letdown.
“I didn’t have any concrete expectations going into the season,” Garvey, a co−captain, said. “I wanted to get third at NESCACs but I didn’t know if it was possible because the league gets stronger every year. I was just hoping to carry through what we did last year.”
Garvey is one of four Tufts swimmers who were invited to Nationals, but there were several other top swimmers who just missed this year’s cut, which ended up being higher than in past years.
Any swimmer that makes it in as part of a relay is entitled to swim in any of their other events that make the “B” cut. The rest of the swimmers are filled in based on time, but there is also a limit to the number of spaces.
This means that junior Jenny Hu, ranked 15th in the nation in the 100 breaststroke, will not get a chance to compete at nationals this year because the cut was moved to 12th place. The junior has had some of the best finishes for the Jumbos all year, and missed out despite winning NESCACs with a time of 1:05.15, just 1.7 seconds off from the NCAA automatic “A” cut.
But although Hu did not qualify and not many Jumbos individually qualified, the team finds itself pleasantly surprised after a strong finish to the year. They will try to continue to grow without Garvey and Grainger and climb in the NESCAC as they look to next year.