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Women’s swimming and diving upset at NESCACs

Amherst surprises Williams, Tufts bests Middlebury

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 00:02

It was a weekend of upsets at this year’s women’s swimming and diving NESCAC Championships, from a historic win for Amherst to a last minute push from Tufts to snag third place. The Jumbos went into the meet with hopes of placing in the middle of the 11−competitor pack but pulled off a surprising third−place finish.

The Lord Jeffs took the win with 1972.5 points, followed by Williams with 1909.5. Tufts came in a distant third with 1017.5 points, but just ahead of fourth place Middlebury’s 1006.5 points.

Throughout much of the three−day event Middlebury held a 30−point lead over Tufts, but the Jumbos came back strong with an impressive final push on Sunday. In the second−to−last event of the day, the 200 meter butterfly, the Jumbos had four swimmers make it to the finals, and the combined points from the event were enough to give the Jumbos a 24−point lead over Middlebury. The Jumbos were able to keep the Panthers at bay in the final event of the weekend. In a meet where scores went into the thousands, the 11−point difference at the end of the meet could have swung easily in either direction.

“It was such a close race between us and Middlebury, anybody’s race if they’d given up a second could have made the difference,” junior Jenny Hu said.

Hu recorded Tufts’ only victory of the weekend when she completed the 100 meter breaststroke in 1:05.15. At last year’s NESCACs, then−sophomore Jamie Hillas from Middlebury edged Hu out for first place in two events. This year, Hu came back to beat Hillas in the 100 breast, despite being seeded seventh in the finals.

“I didn’t really think about winning the heat, I just did the best I could,” she said.

And that was enough to propel her to the victory all the way from lane one.

The next day, senior co−captain Christine Garvey was able to pull off a similar feat in a massive come from behind second place finish for the Jumbos in the 200 meter butterfly. Her time of 2:04.74 earned her second place and an NCAA B−cut, and lost to Amherst’s Sarah Conklin by just 1/100th of a second.

“I could not believe how close it was at the end,” Garvey said. “When I touched and saw that I was in second I was shocked.”

Garvey contributed 28 points with her second place finish, but it was the depth of the squad during the 200 fly that pulled Tufts into the lead over Middlebury. Freshman Maddie Golison earned 16 points with her 11th place finish and senior co−captain Lizz Grainger and freshman Sam Swinton rounded out the event with a combined 13 points.

According to coach Nancy Bigelow, it was the team effort from the Jumbos and not solely individual performances that allowed the squad to pull out a third place win. Of the 24 swimmers who attended the meet, every one of them contributed points in either a relay or individually. According to Bigelow, only the top teams in the conference can say that.

In the diving well, it was a challenging meet with some tough competition. Junior Sami Bloom was off from her best diving scores and placed sixth on the 1−meter board and seventh on the 3−meter. According to coach Brad Snodgrass her finish was strong after being abroad for half of the season.

Senior Ali Maykranz competed in her first championship and got better as she adjusted to the atmosphere of the meet.

“In this sport there is a big learning curve being in championship,” Snodgrass said. “The atmosphere got to her in first event, but she came back really strong in the three−meter and ended up tenth. It was a fantastic finish for her and the team.”

Several individual swimmers, including Garvey, Hu and sophomore Sam Sliwinski, and the 400− and 800−free relay teams made NCAA B−cuts. The NCAA automatically takes swimmers who make the competitive A−cut time, and invites the top B−cut swimmers to fill out 16 people per event. By next week, the Jumbos will know who will get an invitation to the NCAA Championships.

There, they will hope to keep their momentum rolling after a weekend that surpassed even their loftiest expectations.

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