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Women’s Swimming and Diving | Tufts finishes seventh at NESCAC championships

Published: Friday, February 21, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 08:02

Ending this season for the team, women’s swimming and diving took seventh place this weekend at the NESCAC championships hosted at Williams College. With a 1-6 record, the Jumbos finished off the season four spots lower in the conference championships than last year.

Last season, Tufts turned around a 3-5 regular season scoring 1,017.5 points to edge out Middlebury and place third at the NESCAC championships, behind powerhouses Amherst and Williams. This year, Williams and Amherst traded places, as Williams took first for the 13th time in 14 years, followed by Amherst and Middlebury. 

The Jumbos reached the finals in 11 events over the three-day meet. The team saw three of its swimmers post National B cut times, which could make them eligible to compete at the NCAA championships next month in Indianapolis.

Though the team did not match its success from last season, head coach Nancy Bigelow and her swimmers said they are pleased with how the season ended given the facilities difficulties they had this year, namely the closure of Hamilton Pool. Tufts also lost significant talent with last year’s senior class graduating.

“We’ve been practicing under some interesting circumstances, you could say, for the past five weeks,” Bigelow said. “There was a lot of stress placed on our swimmers because of it, and there’s only so much stress your body can take. But, overall, I’m very pleased with how we performed at the meet.”

Senior Jenny Hu, who took home a conference title in the 50 breaststroke, led the Jumbos, broke three school records and swam two National B cut times. Following her NESCAC title in the 100 breaststroke last year, Hu tied for first in the 50 breaststroke on the Friday with Middlebury’s Jamie Hillas. Both swimmers posted identical 29.10-second times.

Hu first broke the school record in the 50 breaststroke — a time of 29.83 seconds, which she set herself in 2012 — in the preliminaries earlier that day with a time of 29.78 seconds. She again broke the record in the finals with her 29.10, which was also a pool record. 

Hu followed up her success in the 50 breaststroke with third place in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.01, which broke the school record she set last year. The time also represented her second National B cut time. She went on to place fourth in the 200 breaststroke, breaking the previous school record of 2:23.72 set in 2009 by Katie Swett (LA ’09) with her own time of 2:22.05. 

“I am thrilled with the way I ended my season,” Hu said. “I swam [my] best times in my main events and got to swim on four relays. I was also definitely frustrated with my 100 breast and wish that I could have stuck my finish better, but it was a best time and a great race.”

Hu was also recognized at the meet as a four-time All-NESCAC performer and for coming in second in the Senior High Point award.  

“I think the coolest thing for me was getting second in the Senior High Point award,” Hu said. “It was an honor to be recognized for a four-year achievement and made me feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to be a Jumbo and swim for Tufts.”

Two other Jumbos also recorded National B cut times at the meet. Freshman Amanda Gottschalk placed ninth in the 400 IM on Saturday, posting a time of 4:36.26. Junior Amanda Wachenfeld took ninth in the 1,650 freestyle on Sunday and recorded a National B cut time with a 17:33.52. Wachenfeld also placed sixth in the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 10:29.95. 

In another strong performance for Tufts, junior Samantha Sliwinski took fifth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.26 and took seventh in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.11. 

Supporting Hu’s first place in the 50 breaststroke, sophomore Laura Cui took 12th and Ellen Gage took 14th in the event. Following Wachenfeld in the 400 IM were sophomore Maddie Golison, who finished 13th and senior Katharine Majewski, who came in 16th.

Tufts’ relay teams were also successful at Williams, as the 200 freestyle relay team of Hu, Sliwinski, freshman Sophia Lin and junior Kathryn Coniglio took seventh, and the 400 medley relay team of sophomore Kelsey McAvoy, Hu, freshman Cassidy Hubert and Coniglio took eighth.

In a sign of the improvement that Bigelow’s team made in the final weeks of their season, Tufts finished ahead of rival Wesleyan, who had edged the Jumbos in a close meet last month by more than 170 points.

“I think we had a fantastic season,” Hu said. “The girls dealt with the ups and downs with a really great attitude and a lot of resilience. Even though we did not place as well this year [as last year], there were some fantastic swims and the atmosphere on deck was great.”

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